How to Keep Rats Out of Your Shed

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We’re blessed with mild winters here in the Austin and Houston, TX, areas, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have our share of chilly weather. Rats, mice, and other rodents share our natural environment and our desire for warmth and comfort in the winter months. 

Rat in old shed

Even when the sun is shining, and the sweat is dripping from our foreheads, you may find rodents trying to escape the heat in your garage, shed, or other outdoor structures. It may seem like a losing battle, but you don’t have to tolerate unwanted visitors who can bring disease and illness to your household. 

To help you fight smarter rather than harder, we have some tips and tricks for building effective rodent barriers. We’ll start with our answer to a question we hear all too often here at Natran Green Pest Control…

How Do I Get Rid of Rats in My Shed?

Do you jump a little when you open the shed door, and a rat or two scurries across the floor or ducks for shelter? Or are you so used to that experience that you expect it before pulling the door open? Either way, you can block the intrusion of rats, mice, and other rodents with a little preparation starting right now. 

Let’s start by covering the very basics of rodent elimination and prevention. These are standard tasks that every property owner should do routinely to ensure they aren’t welcoming rats and mice in rather than discouraging their presence. 

  • Maintain a clean environment without trash, dirty dishes, and other potential food sources left out. If you can keep trash cans away from outdoor buildings, you can eliminate a big attraction for rodents. 
  • Empty any source of standing water in or around the shed or garage. Rodents will come around for nourishment and water if it’s provided freely. 
  • Clean up cluttered areas, especially those with stacks of paper or fabrics that can provide warmth and hiding. 
  • Look for cracks and other open areas large enough for rats to squeeze inside. Even a hole the size of a dime is enough for small mice to get in. Start at the floor level, but go all the way up to the doors, windows, and ceiling. The more thorough you are, the less likely rodents will get into the structure. Seal all holes with steel wool or plaster thick enough to withstand the sharp teeth of a rat.
  • Keep the area surrounding the outdoor structure clean and free of potential nourishment, warmth, and hydration. Venture beyond the garage or shed to find other attractions that could lead rodents your way. 

With that done, it’s time to think about more advanced ways to keep mice and rats out of your shed, garage, and other outdoor buildings. Our steps are still quite simple and easy to implement, but they will get you a little further than basic cleaning and sealing holes. 

How Do I Keep Mice Out of My Shed for the Winter? 

Early winter is when we get more calls from Austin and Houston area residents and businesses concerned about mice and rats seeking warmth in their sheds and garages. The furry visitors seek warmth and protection just as we do in our homes, but they aren’t friends anyone wants to keep around. 

So, how do you keep mice out of your shed during a cool Texas winter? The following tips will walk you through the process. 

  • Keep checking for new holes in the structure of your shed every three to four weeks. One check isn’t enough because rats and mice chew through wood and other materials to make new entrances. Put routine structure checks on your calendar every winter. 
  • Fill any space under the shed door. That’s an easy entry point even for larger rodents if the gap is large enough. 
  • Put all seeds and pet foods in containers that seal airtight. Rats and mice have a good sense of smell, so you want to prevent them from picking up the odor of a potential food source. Any type of seed is potential nourishment, including flower, vegetable, grass, and bird seeds. 
  • Elevate your firewood stockpile or find a new storage location. Rats and mice will hide in a stack of firewood because they can go unseen while getting out of the wind and enjoying a bit of warmth. You can raise the pile 18 feet from the ground or keep it somewhere else that is less prone to intrusions. The further away from your home and shed, the better. 
  • Clean up landscaping surrounding the building. Overgrown bushes and cluttered plantings can provide warmth and shelter. They may also allow rodents to easily climb up to the roof, where they will make their way inside by chewing. 

What About Keeping Rodents Out in Warm Weather? 

Those tips will help you keep rodents out of your shed when the weather starts warming up. The goal is always to eliminate the three things that are likely to attract rats and mice: 

  • Food 
  • Shelter
  • Water

You may just need to work a bit harder in the warmer months. Planting seasons will require you to open those airtight containers to rejuvenate your lawn and plant new landscape features. You may open and close the doors to the shed more often as well due to more frequent mowing, weeding, and gardening projects. 

As you start planning those landscaping and gardening projects, ensure you’re placing features as far away from outdoor structures as possible. Planting bulbs in new flowerbeds by the shed may attract pests who want to dig up and eat those bulbs. Water features are beautiful and fun, but they can provide water to the creatures you’re trying to keep away. 

How Do I Get Rid of Rats in My Shed and Under My House? 

Let’s move from the shed to the crawlspaces, basements, and other areas below your home. Rats and mice can damage your property and cause serious problems if they reside there. They may also eventually move into your primary living space, walls, and attic, creating an even bigger problem. 

Whether you’re already noticing signs of rats and mice under the house or you just want to protect your property, the following tips will get you started. 

  • Consider having crawlspaces waterproofed and encapsulated. Professionals will remove any organic materials that keep the crawlspace damp and habitable for rodents. They will seal it to keep water out, along with many pests. 
  • Eliminate humidity in crawlspaces. Warm, moist environments are perfect for rodents, especially in areas that aren’t routinely visited by humans for inspection. 
  • Illuminate your basement and crawlspace with light. A simple flashlight turned on under the house can help. The light signals that humans may come around while eliminating the dark environment that rats and mice enjoy. 
  • Cover dirt floors to deter rodents from digging tunnels that lead in and out of your basement or crawlspace. You can use thick plastic sheets, metal plates, stone, and other materials. 

How Do I Get Rid of Mice in the Garage?

“I have mice roaming around in my overly cluttered garage…” 

So begins the story of frustration for many homeowners. You have a garage or even a workshop, and you don’t want to deal with chewed electrical wires, rat droppings, and piles of shredded paper appearing in unusual places. 

These are all signs of a rat or mouse infestation, but there are some things you can do to get it under control. Start with the tips we shared above for keeping mice and rats out of a shed. Those will apply to your garage and any other outdoor structure. 

Then consider spraying a mixture of peppermint essential oil and water around the edges of the garage. Mint has a strong smell that rats and mice don’t like, so it tends to drive them away from an enclosed space like a garage. It’s also safe for humans and won’t harm pets as long as they aren’t left in the garage for a long time to breathe in the peppermint.

If you already have an established rat or mouse presence in your garage, consider calling a pest control service for extermination. You can then clean the area and spray natural oils to discourage repeat infestation. 

Other Texas Rodents to Worry About 

Rats and mice are the primary invader's Texas residents worry about, but you’re sharing your environment with some other rodents who may find your home equally appealing. 

The tips we have provided so far will discourage or stop most rodents from getting into your sheds and garages. We want to provide a bit more information specific to these other rodents before leaving you to safeguard your property. 

Opossums

Opossums are marsupials rather than rodents, but they’re still challenging intruders for Texas homeowners. They’re hardy and can survive in low temperatures and vicious storms that are likely to drive away or take out some other wildlife. You may also have a harder time getting rid of them if they do make their way into your property. 

The best thing you can do to avoid opossum trouble is to ensure they have no food sources around your home. They will dig into pet food in a heartbeat and are drawn to trashcans. Ensure all trash is tightly sealed and foods are in airtight containers. 

Squirrels

Squirrels love to hang in trees, so make sure you keep every tree near your home, shed, or garage neatly trimmed. Even a slight overhang is enough to send squirrels from the trees to your roofs, where they can cause damage or make their way into your home or outdoor buildings.

If you notice squirrels outside your home often, you may want to have your roof inspected at least every year or two. Ask professionals to check for roof intersects that may pull apart with time, exposing holes large enough for squirrels to enter. 

Raccoons

Raccoons are among the most difficult to eradicate and can cause substantial damage to a home. All of the tips provided here will help, but you also want to pick up any fruit that may fall from trees around your property. If you have a vegetable garden, consider fencing to help keep the raccoons out. 

When to Call for Professional Help in Texas

How do you know when it’s time to stop battling the rodents on your own and call a pest control service for help? You can call for help the moment you suspect rats, mice, or other rodents are a problem, but you should do so immediately if any of the following scenarios apply. 

  • You’ve unsuccessfully tried to keep rats, mice, and other rodents out of your shed, garage, workshop, or other buildings. The longer you wait to ask for help, the bigger the problem. 
  • You have a serious infestation that goes beyond the occasional unwanted visitor. Established infestations require immediate attention to ensure your living environment doesn’t become toxic from the accumulation of droppings and other debris created by rodents. 
  • You want to protect your property before rodents become a problem. Working with a professional can save you time and money on extermination and repair bills later. 

Whether you’re battling rodents at the moment or just want to get a start on prevention, Natran is one call away at (281) 326-9858. We offer comprehensive pest control services for residents and businesses throughout the areas of Austin and Houston, TX.

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