What Scents Will Repel Rats? Using Repellents in IPM for Rats

by | Nov 9, 2021 | Pest, Rodent Control

Rats are a pain in the butt. And a dangerous pest. Many prefer to simply use some smells that rats hate to repel them for good. Although they’re not a silver bullet, rat repellents can be part of a good Integrated Pest Management strategy for rats, along with sealing rodent entry points and monitoring.

What Smells Do Rats Dislike?

Rats are extremely intelligent and have highly evolved ways to determine if they like a smell (and want to eat it), or if they hate the smell and it deters or disrupts their behavior:


  • Rats can smell another rat’s breath to determine if a smell is safe to eat.
  • Rats usually nibble on anything new they smell first, then wait a while to see how they feel, to tell if it’s safe to eat.
  • In rat colonies, a juvenile will be sent to test a new smell to see if it’s safe.

Eco-friendly Rat Control. 

If the rats dislike a smell and decide it is dangerous, it can be disruptive to their behavior. Occasionally it will repel or deter them. Usually it will just disrupt their normal behavior for a while.

Sometimes professionals use this to their advantage by adjusting or adding equipment after applying a repellent. It can be handy in situations when dealing with smart or trap-shy rats.

What Scent Repels Rats?

Rats have an extremely acute sense of smell. They can detect odors down to the parts per million. That’s why the best rat exterminators will take great caution not to contaminate their traps & bait, smoke tobacco while setting traps, or ever touch equipment without disposable gloves.

*Note: If you’re using natural rat repellents along with rat traps, be sure to keep the trap’s bait fresh. Rats don’t like the smell of old, moldy & putrid peanut butter or other baits.

What will deter rats?

1. Balsam oil — Some registered rodent repellents contain balsam oil among other ingredients. The pungent piney smell has been reported to be effective at repelling mice & rats from enclosed spaces like RVs and cars. 

2. Raccoon urine — Raccoon urine is another odor that rats hate. Raccoons are excellent predators of rats, capable of sneaking up and capturing them for food. If rats detect a raccoon’s scent, they will be deterred from hanging out in that area. 

3. Peppermint oil — Essential plant oils like peppermint, rosemary, citronella, sage and lavender have strong botanical scents that rats dislike. One customer successfully repelled a rat by stuffing a peppermint oil soaked tissue into the rat hole chewed into the wall. The rat appeared to never come back. Essential oils can be used with a diffuser to prevent rats from eating car wires.

4. Chilli powder — If you know where rat burrows & tunnels are, you can use freshly ground spicy chilli peppers. Sprinkle liberally into burrows, and along runways. Reapply weekly or after heavy rains. Since rats groom themselves, they will probably be deterred by having to clean hot chilli powder off themselves over-and-over again.

Do Pest Repellents Really Work?

Pest repellents really work for rats & mice– but generally just in the short term. Rats & mice are highly evolved alongside humans, and easily become comfortable with repellent smells… and even ultrasonic noises.

Do not rely solely on one repellent all the time. Always rotate the repellent you’re using, where you apply it, and frequency to prevent rats from getting used to it.

Click to Get Rid of Rats.   

Best Natural Rodent Deterrent

The best natural rodent deterrent is locking up every possible food source, and clearing any possible hiding place. Without food there will be no reason for rodents to visit. Without a safe place to hide, rats will go elsewhere or risk being killed by predators.

Does Cat Urine Deter Rats?

Yes and no. Cats are a well-known, highly-lethal predator of rats. And rats know this. But they also know how to evade cats, mostly by squeezing into smaller spaces than cats can fit. So although outdoor cats may deter rats, there is always the chance rats will become accustomed to cat urine odor and adapt behavior to it. Unfortunately, rats do invade homes with indoor cats more often than we hope.
calico cat headshot

Integrated Pest Management for Rats

Be aware that city rats are smart, one of the toughest pests of humans in existence. Always follow the steps of Integrated Pest Management for the best rat control.

If you have a good rat repellent story, or if you’re looking for eco-friendly rodent control in Portland Oregon, feel free to get in touch today.

Pest and Pollinator contact information phone 9712319945 email info@pestandpollinator.com