1. Home

Discuss in my forum

Keep Rats Away

Will Birdbaths or Herbs Attract Rats?

By

Reader Question: We have a bird fountain in our yard that is about two feet off the ground, and has two layers of running water. If the birds go to the fountain and the water is running (from an electric pump), will this attract rats or will the rats stay away from it? Also, will rats be attracted to the house if we have a rosemary plant, basil plant, or other herbs plants?

Will rats drink from birdbaths or fountains?

Rats are cautious creatures, so they may not approach the fountain initially, but that is not likely to keep them from the water for long, particularly if there is no other readily available source. Rats live in underground sewers, which have both still and running waters. Thus, having a fountain in the water is not likely to keep rats away, but, on the other hand, it is not likely to attract them anymore than does the water itself.

The fact that birds are drinking at the fountain also is fairly insignificant for rodents. This is because the birds will be at the fountain during the day, but rats are nocturnal, so they would be venturing to the water at night.

Other rat facts applicable to this situation, including a few from the City of Dearborn, are:

  • Some pet rats have been known to enjoy playing in water.
  • Rats can climb effectively, so will not have an issue climbing the two feet to the fountain. (They also can jump three feet high from a standing position and drop 50 feet without getting hurt.)
  • Rats can swim. They will swim through sewers lines against currents and can tread water for three days, so fountains are unlikely to be an issue.
  • They drier the weather, the fewer sources of water there will be available, so the more likely it is that the rats will be attracted to the bird fountain, as well as the water in swimming pools and outdoor pet water bowls.
  • Rats can squeeze through openings: as small as a ½ inch, so could even wiggle through gaps to climb the inside of the fountain – in the same way that they can
  • Rats also can gnaw through many materials, including wood, paper, lead sheeting, cinderblock, aluminum siding, glass and even concrete that was not properly cured.

Will Rats Eat Herbs?

Rats primarily prefer to feed on cereal grains, meats, fish, nuts, and some fruits, but they will eat just about anything – including herbs. However, having an herb garden in your yard is not likely to be a significant attraction for rats.

However, rats – as well as mice and many insect pests – are attracted to foods – including pet food – and trash that is left unattended outdoors. Thus, the best control of any rodent, outdoors or indoors, is sanitation and exclusion. In most cases, rats will only enter homes because it is seeking food, water, or shelter.

  • Sanitation. To reduce the availability of food and water, employ sanitation methods: covering or packaging all foods; keeping all food and food-preparation areas swept, mopped, and wiped clean; keeping trash areas clean; and removing or limiting exposed water.
  • Exclusion. To reduce the opportunity for rats that are seeking shelter to enter your home, build out the rodents through rodent-proofing and pest proofing techniques .

For this reason, the reader's explanation that they have done everything possible to shore up the house – filling every hole, and putting rat traps and rat boxes outside to deter rats from coming into the garden and the home – is the exact right approach to keep rats and other pests from the home.

And having a regular professional pest management service monitor and empty traps, as the reader does, will also help to deter rodents from the property and from entering the home.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.