12 Plants That Repel Rats [With Science]
Gardeners cultivate plants that repel rats, mice, and other rodents such as voles, gophers, squirrels, groundhogs, squirrels, and raccoons. Do you know the plants that repel rats, and those that attract them into your home or garden? Read on.
The most common plants that have been scientifically proven to repel rats are:
- Black pepper
- Camphor laurel
- Christ plant
In addition, there are also 10 plants that have been found to repel rats, as well as 14 plants that are used in the commercial manufacture of rat repellents.
Who knew that some plants attract rats while others repel them? In other words, without us knowing it, plants in our garden or on our kitchen window may be driving rats and rodents away – or inviting them in. Rats!
The Risk of Having Rats In The Garden
The rodents that you will most likely encounter in your home, farm, or garden are house mice, ricefield rats, Norway rats, black rats, multimammate mice, or the lesser bandicoot rat.
The thing is, rats and mice are pretty smart. They nibble to test new food sources. If it makes them sick, they will simply avoid it in the future, so no poison is guaranteed to work 100%.
So, back to the question: why do we need to repel rats? Here’s why: Rats damage crops and human property, destroy food supplies, and bring diseases.
For instance, salmonellosis pathogens in the urine and faeces of rats, mice, and rodents on plants can spread diseases to humans. In addition, ticks and fleas on their bodies can also infect humans with murine typhus. Cats, dogs, and other pets can be infected with leptospirosis from a bite or by drinking unclean water.
PRO TIP: When watering your garden, bacteria from rat droppings can splash on and contaminate leaves and fruit of your herbs and vegetables. This can cause stomach cramps and severe diarrhea.
Be careful when evaluating Internet sources about plants that are claimed to be rat repellents. Many online sources contain confusing ideas. For your convenience, this article summarizes garden lore as well as scientific research for your convenience and informed decision-making.
The Facts – What Science Says
At least 12 plants have been proven by many studies and house owners as effective in repelling rats. Here’s an alphabetic list:
- Amaryllis bulbs contain toxic substances (alkaloids) that produce symptoms similar to gastroenteritis, including diarrhea or vomiting.
- Bergamot essential oil, which includes linalool, limonene, and linalyl acetate, are effective in repelling house mice.
- Black pepper is said to make breathing hard for rats. Research shows that essential oils of black pepper oil are effective in repelling rodents.
- Camphor laurel or camphor tree emits a smell that rats dislike. Studies show that camphor can cause diarrhea or vomiting in rats.
- Christ plant, also known as Crown of Thorns, repels rats due to its sharp thorns. As well, phorbol esters in the sap are poisonous and can cause skin irritation, dermatitis, or blistering, severe stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Chrysanthemums are said to repel rats. Studies show that chemicals from the dried flowers are effective insecticides that can also kill rats.
- Daffodils or jonquils are effective in stopping rodents from feeding on plants. Rodents avoid all types of daffodil bulbs.
- Elderberry or black elder bark contains lectins, chemicals that cause acute nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Geraniums yield essentials oil that has been proven to be effective in rat control.
- Quamash or Camassia bulbs are edible when cooked but rodents don’t like the raw bulbs.
- Snowdrops or Flore Pleno bulbs are always avoided by rodents.
- Wintergreen, also known as American wintergreen, eastern teaberry, boxberry, or checkerberry, is used to produce an essential oil that is effective in rat control.
Other Plants That Can Repel Rats
Researchers have identified 10 other plants that are effective in repelling rodents. Here’s what we know.
- Blue thistle – The stemless atractylis, also known as blue thistle or bird-lime, contains poisonous glucosides that cause severe hepatitis and fatal liver failure.
- Boxwood, also known as the European box, is effective in preventing rodents from feeding on plants.
- Chinese Geranium – The essential oils of Chinese geranium are effective in repelling rodents.
- Crownvetch, also known as purple crown vetch, is effective in deterring rodents from feeding on plants.
- Eucalyptus – Several studies on the use of eucalyptus oil extract indicate that it is effective in stopping rats from damaging plants and farm crops.
- Frangipani – A study on the red frangipani confirms that it is an effective rat repellent.
- Japanese pachysandra is effective in stopping rodents from feeding on garden plants and farm produce.
- Japanese prickly-ash, also known as Japanese or Korean pepper – Rodents avoid eating any food treated with an extract from this fruit.
- Mouse killer – The Kakawate or mouse killer yields an ethanolic extract that is effective in stopping rats from feeding on plants.
- Pine oil – The monoterpenes in pine oil are effective in stopping rodents from feeding on garden plants and agricultural crops.
How To Solve Your Rat Problem
At least 14 plants and their essential oils have been tested by a number of companies, who are now selling them as main ingredients of bio-organic rat repellents.
- Balsam fir oils are used in rat-repellent products such as this good one on Amazon
- Castor beans or castor oil plants yield castor oil, which is used in this one Amazon
- Cayenne or chili pepper contains oleoresin that repels house mice, deer mice, and squirrels. One product based on cayenne pepper is this Oil Rodent Repellent Spray on Amazon
- Cinnamon – Research shows that the natural oils of cinnamon are effective rat repellents. Cinnamon-based rat repellents are quite common as this one on Amazon
The Myths: What Science Doesn’t Say
A number of popular beliefs about plants that are effective as rat repellents are being recommended as alternatives to hazardous pesticides.
Here are 19 plants that are believed to repel rats. We cannot find scientific research that confirms their effectiveness. If you happen to try any of these, please let me know if they work or not. At the end of this article lots of research discussing them!
- Basil leaves do not harm rats. Studies indicate that basil can improve health in rats by lowering their cholesterol levels and improving their motor ability.
- Catnip is said to repel rats but research shows that catnip increases the sleeping time and penile erection in rats.
- Cucumber skins are said to be effective as rat repellents.
- Fritillary bulbs, also known as snake’s head, drooping tulip, leper lily, bell, chequered lily, or chequered daffodil, are said to repel rats.
- Grape hyacinth is said to repel rats.
- Glory of the Snow bulbs have been observed as avoided by rats and other rodents, but there’s no formal study on this.
- Lavender is said to repel rats. However, a study reveals that lavender essential oil, which contains linalool and linalyl acetate, has no effects on house mice.
- Leeks are said to repel rats.
- Marigolds are said to repel rats. However, other sources say that marigolds don’t always repel rodents.
- Oregano is claimed to repel rats. However, oregano essential oil is 100% effective in repelling bed bugs but it is not toxic to rats.
- Painted daisies are said to repel rats.
- Purple coneflower is claimed to be able to repel rats.
- Sweet pea is said to repel rats.
- Thorn apple, also known as jimsonweed or devil’s snare, is said to repel rats.
- Thyme has long been believed to repel rats. However, a study showed that thyme essential oil, which contains thymol, had no effects on house mice.
- Winter aconite flowering bulbs are avoided by rodents.
- Wood hyacinth or wood squill bulbs are to repel rats and other rodents.
- Wormwood is said to repel rats.
Plants That Attract Rats
Keep in mind that rats are attracted to plants that provide them with easy food, safe shelter, and in cases where food is scarce, any safe and filling food sources.
- Bay leaves are used by some rat species to protect their nests against ectoparasites.
- Starchy tubers, roots, and bulbs: rats will eat the bulbs of most types of tulips, crocus, iris, and hyacinth as well as many bulbs of wisteria, purple prairie gay feathers, lily flowers, and other starchy roots.
- Sheltering plants that give rodents cover from the weather and from natural predators include juniper bushes, cypress trees, bamboo, Himalayan blackberries, date palm trees, Algerian ivy, and Italian cypress.
- Seed-bearing plants on your patio, deck, yard, or gardens provide rats, mice, and other rodents with food. Examples are corn and sunflower seeds,
- Vegetables are also a food source. If rats can’t find any corn, grain or seed, rats will feed on vegetables such as green beans, peas, turnips, potatoes, zucchinis, leeks, cabbages, and cauliflowers.
- Low-hanging fruits with thin skins such as tomatoes are favored by rats.
PRO TIP: If you’re growing fruits plants indoors, such as tomatoes, berries, and calamondins, you can slip pantyhose over the fruits to prevent rats from nibbling on your prized fruits.
Rats and mice are pretty smart. They learn and adapt fast. They nibble to test new food sources. If it makes them sick, they will simply avoid it in the future, so no natural poison is guaranteed to work 100%.
If you have an issue with mice in your home or garden, grow some plants that will keep them away. This is a natural way to control mice and rats without using poisons or rat traps.
You can drive away rodents from your plants or garden by spraying flavors and scents of the leaves, flowers, roots, or bark of known rat-repelling plants.
Since many of these plants are also kitchen herbs and decorative plants, these helpful botanicals are win-wins for you.
If you want to share some thoughts related to this article – or ask some questions. I’d love to hear from you.
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