Does Rodent Repellent Work? What You Need to Know

Last Modified on May 6, 2024 by Zachary Smith

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Are rodents damaging your home or garden? If so, you’re probably looking for a fix, and rodent repellent may seem like the perfect option.

Unfortunately, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Here at Smith’s Pest Management, we help Bay Area homeowners get rid of rodents daily, so we know what works and what doesn’t.

In this blog, we’ll take an honest look at the efficacy of rodent repellent and discuss alternatives.

What are Rodent Repellents?

rodent repellents

Rodent repellents are substances used to deter rodents from entering or damaging property.

The main types of rodent repellents include chemical-based and natural options.

Here’s a quick breakdown of each:

  • Chemical repellents often contain ingredients like naphthalene or rodenticides that can discourage rodents through smell or taste aversion.
  • Natural alternatives, however, might use essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus, or citronella, which are less harmful to the environment and non-toxic to people and pets. Another main ingredient of natural rodent repellents is castor oil, which can effectively deter various digging pests.

People may choose to use rodent repellents as a preventive measure to protect their homes, gardens, and health without resorting to lethal traps or poisons, aiming for a humane and safe approach to managing potential rodent issues.

Do Rodent Repellents Really Work?

They can, but they’re not nearly as effective as methods like trapping, habitat modification, and exclusion techniques.

For instance, several studies have shown that ultrasonic and other “hazing” repellents aren’t effective, and we have tons of experience in the field that shows that chemical repellents aren’t your best bet, either (although there is a bit of research to suggest that predator odors like coyote urine can be effective at repelling some rodents).

Ultimately, repellents should never be used as your primary form of rodent control. At most, they’re a temporary or complementary solution that can be totally unpredictable in terms of efficacy.

Integrating repellents with comprehensive control measures ensures a more effective, long-term solution to rodent infestations, addressing the root of the problem rather than merely offering a temporary reprieve.

The Drawbacks of Rodent Repellents

While rodent repellents can help you get rid of burrowing pests, they have their fair share of drawbacks and limits.

Here are a few of the biggest.

  • Cost: Store-bought rodent repellents are expensive! Some cost as much as $40-$50 dollars a gallon (or more) and require you to apply up to a pint a day. This can make them cost-prohibitive for many families and may even make them more expensive than hiring a professional pest management company in the first place.
  • Application Volume: To effectively use rodent repellent, you need to saturate the soil around the area you want to protect. This means homeowners must apply a considerable amount of the product, which not only adds to the expense but also to the labor involved in the application.
  • Moisture Requirement: After dousing the ground with the repellent, you’ll need to water it into the soil. Although this is a crucial step that helps the product take effect, it requires a HUGE amount of water. In areas where water conservation is a priority, or there are drought restrictions in place, this can be difficult or impossible.
  • Reapplication: Another major drawback is that rodent repellents need to be reapplied frequently – especially after heavy rains. For many families, this means that you’ll be caught in a seemingly endless cycle of apply-water-reapply – leading to frustration and lots of wasted time.
  • Efficacy: While we’ve had some success with store-bought rodent repellents in the field, the effectiveness of other options, like essential oils, is often debated. Many find that these natural remedies do not provide the same level of deterrence as their store-bought counterparts, which may mean that you’ve wasted lots of time, money, and effort on a solution that just doesn’t work.

What to Do Instead: How to Get Rid of Rodents

rat traps

Getting rid of rodents can be a daunting task – especially since rodent repellent isn’t the magic fix it’s marketed as.

Don’t worry, though – it is possible to get rid of these pests.

Here’s how:

1. Eliminate Food Sources

Your first line of defense against rodents is to minimize food sources.

Here are a few tips:

  • Store food in sealed containers and clean up crumbs and spills promptly.
  • Secure pet food and birdseed, which are often overlooked as potential food sources for rodents.
  • Pick up ripe or fallen fruits and veggies from the garden.
  • Seal trash, compost, and recycling in rodent-proof bins.

2. Seal Entry Points

Rodents can squeeze through incredibly small openings – often the size of your thumb or smaller! With that in mind, it’s critical to seal all potential entry points around your home.

Here’s how:

  • Fill gaps around doors, windows, and where utilities enter your house.
  • Use steel wool or wire mesh to seal gaps, since rodents can’t chew through it.
  • Install dig-proof barriers around gardens, trees, and other high-interest areas.

3. Set Traps

Setting traps can be an effective way to control rodent populations.

Various types of traps are available, including snap traps, live traps, and electronic traps. When setting traps, it’s crucial to place them along walls or areas with high rodent activity and to use proper bait, such as peanut butter or nuts.

For more information, check out our guide.

4. Hire a Professional Pest Management Company

The fastest and most effective way to get rid of rodents is to call in the professionals. Working with a team like Smith’s Pest Management ensures humane, complete removal of rodents and easy follow-ups to keep your property pest-free.

Sick of Dealing With Rodents? Smith’s Pest Management is Here to Help!

rodent exclusion services

Say goodbye to rodents once and for all.

The team here at Smith’s Pest Management can help you identify and deploy rodent control methods that are more effective than repellent could ever be.

Ready to get started?

Contact us today at (408) 471-6988 to learn more about our rodent control services and how we can help you reclaim your space. 

Author Bio: Zach Smith

Landscape Pro Turned Gopher Pro: Owner, Zach Smith, graduate of Cal Poly’s Horticulture program worked nine years as a landscape professional- dealing with gophers, moles, and ground squirrels and was quickly recruited by other local gardeners. Fast forward to the past 15+ years, where Zach and his team trap and remove burrowing pests from residential, municipal and commercial properties throughout the San Francisco Bay area, from Marin to Monterey.