The space under your decking can be attractive to rats since it provides a safe space to shelter in.
Unfortunately, rats under the decking increase their chances of finding their way into your home. So, you need to act fast if you suspect rats are hiding in that location.
Having rats nesting under your deck can be a nightmarish ordeal. They’re likely to chew the decking material and weaken its structure.
So, it’s important to rodent-proof your decking to keep them out.
Rats can cause serious damage to your deck if they gain access to it. Their strong teeth can chew through some of the toughest materials known to man.
According to the Mohs scale, which ranks minerals on a scale of 1-10 based on their hardness, rats’ teeth are a 5.5. This makes them harder than human teeth (5.0), so they can chew through wooden decking.
However, the safety of your decking isn’t the only thing you need to worry about if you have rats living under it. The proximity of your deck to your home means there’s a chance of rats getting indoors.
There are methods you can use to get rid of rats living under the decking, including:
A rodent bait station is a small box with a hole that rats and mice can enter. It holds a poisoned bait securely, protecting pets and children from accidental poisoning.
Here’s how to use rodent bait stations to get rid of rats from under your decking:
- Place a poisoned bait inside the rodent bait station.
- Set the rodent bait station under your decking in places with high rodent activity.
- Ensure the opening isn’t obstructed.
- Repeat the process and set them at intervals of about 15 feet of each other around your deck.
After setting the bait stations, monitor them every few hours to check whether rats have consumed the baits.
Rats seldom die in bait stations, so don’t be alarmed if the bait is gone and there’s no rat in sight. In most cases, rats enter a bait station and consume a lethal amount of the bait, then retreat to their nest, where they’ll die in a few days.
While rodent bait stations kill rats, they aren’t humane. They also create the challenge of finding the dead rats once they consume the bait.
Since rats don’t die instantly after being poisoned, you may end up with a foul stench of dead rats. Unless the rats die in the open, it can take several days before you can find and dispose of their bodies.
To avoid this, you can use rat traps, which are galvanized-steel cages with wire mesh covers. The cages are easy to use.
You only need to put an attractive bait inside a rat trap and set it near your deck. When a rat gets inside the trap to eat the bait, it’ll step on a trigger that seals the trap, imprisoning the rodent.
Signs of Rats Under Decking
Since rats are most active at night, you may not see them during the day.
Even so, there are several things you can look for if you suspect that you have rats living under your decking but haven’t made any physical sightings.
Rats are notorious for leaving droppings on paths and other locations they visit, producing up to 40 droppings in a single day.
The droppings are sausage-shaped and range in length from 1/2-3/4 inches. Additionally, you may detect the smell of ammonia (from rat urine), which is a sign that you have rats on your property.
Rats like to dwell underground and will frequently construct burrows and subterranean passages to avoid encounters with humans and predators.
If you see 2-4 inch holes under your decking, there’s a high chance that rats are sheltering there.
Gnaw Marks on Decking Material
Rats have long front teeth that never stop growing, so they gnaw on hard materials to keep their teeth trim and sharp.
So, if you have rats living under your decking, you might notice gnaw marks on the wooden planks that make up your decking structure.
Rats usually leave greasy marks on objects when they rub against them with their bodies. Consequently, if you have rats sheltering under your decking, you’re likely to see dark marks on the decking material.
Rats are prolific nest builders that can fashion a comfortable shelter for themselves using the most basic materials, including cardboard boxes, fabric, and shredded material.
If you notice heaps of such material under your decking, then you may be having a rat infestation.
Rat poison is one of the most effective ways of getting rid of rats that live under your decking.
So, if you’re dealing with a serious infestation around your property, you may need to leave some rat poison under your decking until there are no more rats.
With that said, using poison to get rid of rats requires caution. Pets and children can suffer accidental poisoning if they inadvertently ingest the chemicals.
Therefore, you may want to use rodent bait stations as the receptacles for the poison. These devices typically have a small hole through which rats can enter, but pets and children can’t.
You can do several things to rat-proof your decking and make it inaccessible or unattractive for rats, including the following:
Install A Rat Barrier Around The Base of The Decking
Rats can shelter under decks mainly because the space underneath is easily accessible.
So, to keep rats out, you need to seal this area completely. You can use chicken wire to fence around the base. Since rats rarely chew through this material, they can’t gain access to the underside of your deck.
Remove Any Leftover Food
Rats are attracted to areas where they’re assured of feeding opportunities. So, if you have any leftover food around your deck, they’ll most likely sniff it out and attempt to take advantage of it.
To avoid this, remove any leftover foods around the decking area once you are done eating. You might also want to clear up any food scraps that may have fallen on your deck while eating and remove the garbage can placed near the deck.
This will ensure that rats have nothing to feed on, thus making your decking less appealing.
Remove Water Sources
If you have any damaged pipes or faucets in your yard, have them repaired to prevent water leaks. Also, ensure pet watering bowls are emptied and stored during the night.
Rats are likely to exploit overgrown bushes and shrubs as hiding places. So, mow your lawn regularly and trim any plants to ensure they don’t harbor rodents.
If you have woodpiles in your garden, move them to an elevated platform where rats can’t access them. Also, keep your compost bins sealed so that rats can’t scavenge for food inside it.
According to Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, rats can detect the presence of predators in their surroundings. As a result, they tend to avoid any location where the scent of their pheromones lingers.
For this reason, keeping a cat on your property can deter rats from hanging around your deck. However, if you decide to go this route, make sure your pet is vaccinated against rabies to protect it from infections if it gets bitten by a rat.
Rats are invasive pests that damage your deck and infest your home. You can safeguard your decking and home by taking the above steps to remove them.