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What causes rats to come in your house? How do you keep rats away? Do cats keep rats away? What smells keep rats away?

Is there a scuttling in the walls keeping you up at night? Perhaps there’s faint squeaking that comes and goes and you are wondering if you might be losing your mind? The more likely outcome is that you aren’t imagining it and that you have a rat infestation – something that really isn’t all that uncommon. But, what do you do in such an event? 

In this article, we’re going to answer the following questions for you: “What causes rats to come in your house?” “How do you keep rats away?” “Do cats keep rats away?” and “What smells keep rats away?” 

This article offers a comprehensive look and the furry little buggers and how to keep your home pest-free! 

What causes rats to come in your house?

So, what causes rats to come in your house? There are a number of reasons that you may have rats scuttling around at night:

  • Warm and cosy: The fact is, rats enter a home for the same reasons as most other animals – because they’re looking for warmth, comfort, shelter, and food. Your average Australian home can provide exactly that
  • Food glorious food: Unlike most toddlers, rats aren’t fussy eaters! In fact, many things that we don’t even consider to be food are fair game to rats, which is why you need to be especially careful with what you are leaving around at night. Unsecured food will be sniffed out and sought-after! 
  • Pet waste and compost: Yep…as disgusting as it sounds, rats REALLY aren’t fussy eaters. They’ll even go after digested food if there is any nutrition to be found
  • Dripping pipes and consistent water sources: Just as rats like to eat, they get thirsty as well. As such, if you have dripping taps and leaking pipes, a rat will be drawn to it like a moth to the flame
  • Easy access to your home: Rats can infest a home for no reason other than there was easy access and the fact is, rats can fit into holes as tight as 0.96 inches (a small coin). They can even climb trees easy enough so if yours are branching close to open windows, they’ll find a way in – mission impossible style 
  • Indoor fruit and nut plans: Roof rats will take advantage of potted fruit plants, especially if they’re in the warmth and comfort of a sheltered home

How do you keep rats away from your home?

How do you keep rats away from your home? That’s a good question because often the best pest control for rats is simply prevention. Here are some tips for keeping rats away from your home: 

  • Fill holes, cracks, and gaps: Again, rats can fit through the smallest of gaps so be vigilant – go around your home and inspect closely for potential points of entry
  • Do not give them food: Keep your kitchen surfaces clean, tidy up after yourself, and keep food stored in sealed containers
  • Remove their ideal habitat: Rats love clutter – by keeping your home tidy and free of junk and clutter you will make it difficult for them to nest 
  • Trim back trees and shrubs near your home: Cutting the tree branches back away from your windows is a good way to keep the rats from getting into your home 
  • Set mouse traps inside your home: Setting mouse traps inside the home is an ideal prevention tactic – there are various traps you can purchase or build that will not kill the rats (the difference between pest control and an exterminator
  • Use baits and poison outside: You can get your hands on various baits and poison that are quite effective, but you must be extra careful if you have pets and/or children! 
  • Speak with your neighbours: This could be a larger problem affecting your neighbourhood. It’s always worth checking with the other residents in your community just in case 
  • Call the pest control experts: failing all else, if you can’t seem to keep the rats away from your home then simply call in the experts! 

Do cats keep rats away?

The important question now is, do cats keep rats away? The answer is…yes and no. The fact is, even though cats do indeed catch and eat rats, this does not always deter rats altogether. Rats are sneaky and will do whatever they can to secure food, water, and shelter. If they can find their way into the walls and make a shelter out of the reach of cats, then they will do so. 

However, for the most part, cats are highly effective at catching rats and indeed keeping them away. Whilst cats don’t mark their territory with urine, but by brushing up against surfaces and leaving their fur. This scent tends to frighten rats off – but not always!  

What smells keep rats away?

Are there any smells that keep rats away? You’ll be pleased to learn that there are indeed plenty of smells that rats hate! This is due to the fact that they have an exceptionally keen sense of smell. Here are some smells you can utilise to upset them and try to manage the rat problem in your home

  • Clover
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Hot peppers
  • Ammonia
  • Coffee grounds
  • Peppermint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Predator scents (cats fur)
  • White vinegar 
  • Citronella oil


We hope that this article has been helpful for you. Here’s a quick summary of what we have learned: 

  • Rats are attracted to warmth, comfort, clutter, food, and water
  • Rats can be kept away by keeping your house immaculate and ultimately removing any potential mess for them to use as nest-building materials 
  • Cats make wonderful rat repellents but they are not a cure-all 
  • There are a wide range of smells that can deter rats 

Ultimately, if you are dealing with a rat infestation, your best and easiest approach will be to contact your local pest control expert, for example, SWAT Pest Control. Attempting to rid your home of rats by yourself can be a tricky and lengthy process whereas an expert will certainly make short work of it and can even help you with pest-proofing the home.