Does Peppermint Oil Repel Rats? | Information and Facts

Rats are becoming smarter than ever, which makes them harder to eliminate. On the other hand, peppermint oil has been a topic of debate as to whether it can repel rats or not. As we all know, these unwelcome visitors carry diseases. Therefore, you should understand how peppermint oil works as a rat repellent.

Peppermint oil repels rats because it has a pungent smell that these pests cannot take. This essential oil is inexpensive and readily available. But although effective, the effect on rats depends on several factors. Using peppermint oil alone is not a guarantee that you can get rid of rats.

What Scents Will Keep Rats Away?

What Scents Will Keep Rats Away

Generally speaking, rats have a very strong sense of smell. In fact, most of them can smell not only food but also predators such as cats and dogs. There are also some strong scents that rats hate and can keep them away. They have some limitations, though. Even so, here are some of them that you can try at home:

  • Ammonia
  • Bleach
  • Chili powder
  • Coffee grounds
  • Garlic cloves
  • Mothballs
  • Onion
  • Some essential oils such as citronella oil and peppermint oil
  • Vinegar

Does Peppermint Oil Keep Rats Away?

Does Peppermint Oil Keep Rats Away

Peppermint oil keeps rats away. Despite having a pleasant odor, rats cannot tolerate the strong smell. In fact, a study in Thailand concluded that rats have spent significantly less time in areas that have a scent of peppermint oil. The same study noted that rats also avoided the smell of wintergreen oil and geranium oil.

How Do You Use Peppermint Oil to Repel Rodents?

How Do You Use Peppermint Oil to Repel Rodents

There are several ways to repel rodents using peppermint oil. Note, however, that large quantities can harm children and pets when inhaled or swallowed. Therefore, be extra careful during application and storage. If you are sure that everyone is safe, here are some ways to use peppermint oil to repel rodents:

  • Dip some cotton balls or small pieces of cloth into the peppermint oil.
  • Place them in areas (or holes) where rats could be present or passing by.
  • Alternatively, you can use it as a spray.
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How Do You Mix Peppermint Oil for Rats?

Mix at least 2 teaspoons of peppermint oil with 1 or 2 of water in an empty spray bottle. For stronger solutions, you can add a few drops of rubbing alcohol or dish detergent.

Although higher concentrations have a higher possibility of repelling rats, this is not a permanent solution. In most cases, re-application is necessary.

How to Make Peppermint Oil From Mint Leaves?

How to Make Peppermint Oil From Mint Leaves

If you don’t want to buy peppermint oil, you can make your own. But first, you have to plant peppermint in your yard or a container. With sufficient sunlight, water, and care, peppermint plants can grow into maturity in 90 days outdoors. At this point, you can now make peppermint oil from the mint leaves. Here’s how:

  1. Get fresh peppermint leaves from the plant, but don’t include the stem.
  1. To remove foreign substances from the leaves, wash them thoroughly with cool, clean water. If there are damaged and discolored portions, remove them. 
  1. Dry the leaves completely. Shake them well and use a clean cloth to absorb moisture easily.
  1. Crush the peppermint leaves gently using a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon. You can also squeeze the leaves by hand, but don’t grind them too much.
  1. Place the crushed leaves inside a glass jar with an airtight lid.
  1. Add unscented carrier oil such as olive oil until the leaves are submerged. Note that too much carrier oil will reduce the concentration of the peppermint oil.
  1. Cover the jar properly and leave it for 1-2 weeks under normal temperature. For faster and better mixing, shake the jar every 12 hours.
  1. Strain the infused oil slowly into another container, and discard the leaves. Don’t allow any part of the leaves to join the oil.
  1. You can now use the oil but seal the container properly when not in use.
  1. Store the peppermint oil in a safe place at slightly below room temperature.
  1. If you need more peppermint oil, simply repeat the process and add it to the extracted oil. 
  1. The darker color of the oil means it has a stronger aroma. The shelf life of peppermint oil is usually 3-6 months.
  1. Once there is already a strange color or bad smell, throw it away.

What Can Repel Rats the Most?

Technically, all the rat repellents mentioned above are effective. But again, their scent will soon run out, and you have to apply them frequently. Their efficacy also depends on the concentration, amount, environment, and tolerance of the rats. This is why it’s very hard to tell which of them can repel rats the most.

Meanwhile, rats also hate unfamiliar sounds, especially from ultrasonic rodent repellents. Products such as Loraffe Plug-in Rodent Repellent Ultrasonic 4-in-1 Pest Repeller  are effective in keeping rats away, but not for a long time. So far, no rat repellent has been scientifically proven to be a permanent solution. 

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Can Vinegar Repel Rats?

Vinegar can repel rats. To use vinegar as rat repellent, soak a handful of cotton balls into it and place them in areas where they are rat activities. You can also pour vinegar into a bowl or use it as a spray. Like peppermint oil, white vinegar has an unpleasant smell that rats hate. But then, it is also not a long-lasting solution.

Can Mothballs Repel Rats?

Mothballs can repel rats, as well as other rodents. Old-fashioned mothballs  contain either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, which kills moths and their eggs.

But although mothballs are effective rat repellents, they release gas that poses serious health risks to humans and pets, especially in long-term exposures. 

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Can Bleach Repel Rats?

Bleach can repel rats away because of its strong chlorine smell that rats cannot withstand. In fact, a bleach solution is also an ideal disinfectant against rat droppings and urine. But then, exposure to bleach can irritate your skin or eyes and can cause lung diseases. The effect of bleach on rats is also temporary. 

What Is a Good Natural Rat Repellent?

Scent-based botanical repellents such as peppermint oil are considered good natural rat repellents. But as mentioned above, you may need to apply it again once the odor is gone. Some rats also become accustomed to the smell and will ignore it. If that is the case, you should think of other ways to repel them.

What Kills a Rat Instantly?

Rats are quite resilient creatures, and they can easily adapt to any changes in their environment. This is the main reason why rat repellents are not effective in heavy infestations. Although the presence of cats may help, some cats tend to ignore them. Meanwhile, here are some effective ways to kill a rat instantly:

1. Poison Bait

Poison bait  can kill rats within a few minutes. The poison causes rats to suffer from blood clots or massive internal bleeding. But since rat poisons don’t work at once, poisoned rats may slowly move away and eventually die in the dark. If the dead rat gets unnoticed, it will soon smell and will attract more rats and other pests.

2. Dry Ice

Dry ice kills rats immediately after it turns into carbon dioxide gas. In 2018, dry ice was used to kill rats in New York City. The key here is to insert dry ice in rat nests underground. Hence, it is also applicable to rats in your yard. Although safe for humans and pets, it takes more than 24 hours before dry ice turns into gas.

3. Shooting

Shooting a rat in its head will cause the animal to die instantly. However, some guns, such as BB guns and some airsoft guns, may not be effective, although they can seriously injure rats. Some states also consider them illegal unless you have a license. More importantly, guns can harm people if not used properly.

4. Electric Rat Traps

Electrocution is an effective and humane way of killing rats. Reusable, battery-operated devices such as Teal Elite Rat Zapper  release high voltage enough to kill rats instantly. To attract rats to enter the trap, you can use peanut butter, cat food, or cheese. An LED indicator will light up if the trap has already caught a rat.

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5. Snap Traps

Traditional snap traps such as Tomcat Rat Snap Trap  kill rats instantly and are very easy to set up. Like electric rat traps, all you need is effective bait and place them in the right place. However, snap traps can also harm children and pets that may trigger the snap accidentally. You should check the traps from time to time.

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Related: What Is the Best Way to Exterminate Rats and Mice? | Tips and Guide

When Should You Call a Rat Control Professional?

Calling a professional rodent control can be expensive, so some people tend to solve rat problems on their own. But while repellents and traps can help you get rid of rats, there are cases when they are not enough. So, if there is already a heavy rat infestation, the only solid solution is to call a rat control professional.

Rats are common pests not only in houses but in the yard as well. It is common for us to try different ways to get rid of them. But remember, rat repellents such as peppermint oil have only a short-term effect. Once you have eliminated them, another batch will later arrive. Therefore, preventive measures are a must. 

List of Sources

Kalandakanond-Thongsong, S., et al. (2010). The Efficacy of Pure Natural Repellents on Rat Responses Using Circular Open Field. Chulalongkorn University.

Baker, B. P., Grant, J. A., Malakar-Kuenen, R. Peppermint & Peppermint Oil Profile. New York State Integrated Pest Management, Cornell University.

Pierce II, R. A. (2012). Controlling Rats. University of Missouri.

Rodenticides and Mothballs. Connecticut Poison Control Center.