Use This Essential Oil To Keep Pesky Rats From Invading Your Bird Feeder

Looking out your window, the last thing you want to see is a rat nibbling at your birdfeeder, but that's a common problem in many areas. However, you can protect the food supply by using peppermint essential oil. While the peppermint isn't likely to cause any harm to the birds that you want to welcome into your yard, the rats have no interest in it, and the strong, potent smell will keep them away from the feeder itself.

It's always a good idea to find a high-quality, pure essential oil that contains no types of chemicals or other ingredients that could be harmful to birds. However, you don't want to mix it directly into the food. Too much peppermint oil, especially at a high concentration like in essential oil, isn't recommended. Instead, use it around the birdfeeder to create somewhat of a scent block that keeps rats away.

There are several other steps to take to ensure your feeder is less accessible to rats and other pests, but if you want to naturally keep rats away without having to worry about setting traps for them, this trick will work well in most homes. A word of warning, though, this method may not be safe for indoor, caged birds.

Why peppermint oil is such a deterrent

Birds seem to not be phased by the scent of strong spices like peppermint, but rats are more dependent on their sense of smell to find a food source. Considering this, there are two ways that peppermint works to deter them. First, when present, a rat isn't going to go near that food source because it doesn't smell appetizing to them.

Secondly, the scent itself works to mask the presence of the bird food. Since rats are opportunistic munchers, they are not likely to know there's tasty food in the birdfeeder. They are often going to seek out the easiest access point instead. When close to the ground and packed with seed, especially from birds who drop more than they eat often, rats are drawn to that area if they smell the goodies. If you see several rats at your birdfeeder, peppermint oil is a good starting point, but for a large infestation, this may not work as well. It does work very well as a type of prevention strategy. If you know rats are near your feeder, use this as a way to keep them from making your bird food a buffet.

How to use peppermint to protect your birdfeeder

There are two options for using peppermint to keep rats out of the bird feeder. The first is to plant several peppermint plants near the base of the birdfeeder. That's going to be an instant turnoff for any invading pests, including other rodents. If you don't have time for that or the space for it, the next best option is to use a peppermint essential oil and water mixture in a spray bottle. Mix this with just a small amount of peppermint (like 1 to 2 drops) to every 10 to 20 ounces of water. Put it into a spray bottle and shake well. Then, spray along the base of the birdfeeder and pole. You can also spray it on any nearby surfaces, like trees, that may create a path into the feeder. This method could also get rid of spiders from your birdfeeder as well. You'll need to reapply this spray every few days initially to help keep the rats away. 

In situations where you have determined rats, go further to protect your birdfeeder. For example, place the birdfeeder high and use a baffle under it, which stops rats from making their way up the pole. With a large presence of rodents, it may be best to call in an exterminator to find their nest and move them to a safer location. Remember that rats can carry diseases that you don't want to spread to your home.