The Q&A Archives: Rats

Question: I recently moved to southern California and have a hillside property that needs groundcover for stability and drainage purposes. There is a lot of English Ivy, Asparagus Fern, mondo grass and ficus. I've heard differing opinions on which of the above (or others) that rats like and or detest! My goal is to rip out the groundcover they like and replace it with something less habitable for them. I would love to be able to get some cats or a dog but unfortunatley I'm allergic. Any suggestions on the groundcover issue?

Answer: Rodents like the security of densely growing groundcover so ivy would be their favorite. Asparagus fern and mondo grass would offer some protection, but not quite as many hiding places as the ivy, and therefore would be their second choice.

In my experience, a rat problem is best dealt with on a variety of levels, including physical exclusion, trapping, and elimination of food sources, safe places to dwell, etc. Predator urines are sometimes used, but are effective in areas where the predators are already present and recognized by other creatures, so if you don't have coyote and fox around already, they won't be useful. Also, sometimes rat management is only truly effective on a municipal scale, especially if you live in an area where there are restaurants and dumpsters nearby. I suggest you contact your county extension or your municipal public health department for help in determining the best ways to battle a rat infestation problem. Good luck!

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