Having a balcony is a definite advantage for many homes. But, as they’re pretty exposed spaces, they’re often an attraction for hungry rats looking for food and shelter. If that sounds familiar, you’ll want to know how to get rid of rats on your balcony.
To get rid of rats on your balcony, remove the things that will draw them to it. These include food, water, and shelter. Also, make sure garbage is in cans, and they’re closed securely. Trim back trees and shrubs and sweep up leaves and other debris blown onto your balcony.
These simple steps to get rid of rats on your balcony don’t involve any significant expense. You can read more about these and get other tips to help avoid getting expert help with your rat problem below.
1. Remove Sources of Food
Balconies are great places for the whole family to gather and relax. They’re also common places for feeding and keeping pets. All of this human and animal activity on your balcony can leave behind a trail of food morsels that rats love.
Human food is a particular attraction to rats, so make sure you clear away any leftovers straightaway. Resist the temptation to leave them outside, especially overnight.
If you use your balcony as your pet’s feeding place, that may be another reason you have a rat problem. Rats will happily feast on any pet food left on your balcony, even long after it looks unappetizing to your pet. This includes food left in the pet’s bowl or food that’s dropped on the balcony floor.
The same goes for food in bird feeders on your balcony. Rats can climb up and down bird feeder poles with relative ease, as shown in the following video:
So, it’s not good to leave bird food in your bird feeders, unless you’re also sitting on your balcony to watch them. And you definitely shouldn’t leave those bird feeders out overnight.
Anyone who’s watched birds feeding knows that a lot of the food gets thrown around in all directions. If you want bird feeders on your balcony, but don’t want a rat problem, clean up after feeding time.
Cleaning up after you’ve had any kind of food on your balcony is a must if you want to keep rats away.
2. Remove Sources of Water
Rats need water to survive. If you leave water on your balcony, you’re giving the rats a good reason to visit.
It may be convenient to have your pet’s water bowl on the balcony, but if you want to get rid of rats, you should consider keeping it indoors. At the very least, don’t leave it on your balcony unattended, and certainly, bring it in at night.
The same goes for any water you provide for birds on your balcony. That same water that attracts the birds is also a welcome sign for rats. You should empty drinking water and birdbaths at night. If possible, avoid putting water out for the birds whenever you’re not there.
If you have plants on your balcony, maybe you leave a bucket or watering can out there. Well, those are other sources of water that will attract rats. So, keep buckets and watering cans indoors.
3. Clean Up Animal Feces
Whether animal feces, like dog poop, is desirable to rats is an issue on which views vary. You’ll find some say it is and some say it isn’t. The truth is probably somewhere in between, in that it’s not the poop, but any undigested food that might attract rats.
Whichever view is correct, it makes sense not to leave animal poop lying around your balcony. Cleaning it up and thoroughly disinfecting the area to be sure to remove any odors that might attract rats.
4. Don’t Leave Garbage Bags on Your Balcony
If you’re using your balcony to store your garbage bags while you wait for collection day, you’re asking for rat trouble. Your balcony may be at a height, but rats climb most surfaces.
Just watch this video, and you’ll get the idea:
If you leave garbage bags on your balcony, any rat worth its salt will find a way up to get to those easy pickings. So, if you must leave your garbage on your balcony, make sure it’s in a closed garbage can with a heavy lid. You don’t want the lid flying away in strong winds.
You can get a bin with a secure lid like this Rubbermaid RM133901 32 Gallon Heavy-Duty Bin with Locking Handles. It’s for outdoor use, so it should stand up to the elements on even the most exposed balcony. With the lockable handles, the lid will stay in place even when up against a determined rat.
5. Clear the Clutter From Your Balcony
Apart from food and water, rats also look for shelter. If you use your balcony to store all your clutter, you’re creating conditions that rats love. Cardboard boxes, newspapers, old furniture, and disused grills are all attractive to a rat looking for a home.
To get rid of rats and other pests from your balcony, you’ll need to find another home for all that stuff. Also, don’t forget about leaves and other debris that can get blown onto your balcony. That kind of material is ideal nesting material for rats, so don’t let it accumulate.
6. Trim Trees or Shrubs Near Your Balcony
Did you know that rats can jump? Watch this video if you’re in any doubt:
So, if you’ve got trees or shrubs growing near your balcony, be sure to cut them as far back as possible. The greater the distance between them and your balcony, the better.
Although climbing plants are lovely, they can make it easy for rats to scale their way up to your balcony. If you have rats on your balcony, consider removing these plants to eliminate them as an access point.
7. Get a Cat
Okay, this option might not be for everyone. But, it’s one sure way of deterring rats from coming on your balcony.
You might have read that the odor from cat urine might send rats scampering. But a 2018 study suggests that often odor on its own isn’t enough to put off rats. It’s a physical presence that makes the difference.
Although with the presence of a cat, you may not see rats around, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve gone. The rats may only have adjusted their behavior to take account of the cat’s presence. They may still be lurking ready to take advantage whenever the cat isn’t around.
So, getting a cat doesn’t mean you can be complacent about the other steps outlined above.
8. Use Peppermint Oil Around Your Balcony
It seems that rats have an aversion to peppermint oil. So, having that scent on your balcony may be an easy means of keeping the rats away.
Alternatively, mix the oil with water in a spray bottle. You can then use the spray on surfaces that rats might use to access your balcony like walls and drain pipes.
You can even buy a ready-to-spray version such as Natural Armor Peppermint Repellent. It’s already diluted, so there’s no messing around.
9. Call Pest Control
If you still have rats on your balcony despite trying all the above steps, that’s a problem. You probably need professional help to get rid of them. It’s not good to let a rat problem linger because of the health risks that rats pose to humans and pets.
So, if all else fails, call in the experts.
As you’ve seen, most of the steps you can take to get rid of pests, such as rats on your balcony are good housekeeping and commonsense. Making sure you don’t leave out food or water is crucial, as is depriving rats of any form of shelter on your balcony.
With a little effort, it’s possible to return your balcony to a rat-free state without the expense of professional help.