So you’ve got a lovely decking area to enjoy but are noticing some burrowing around the edges, rustling and shuffling coming from below, or even teeth marks and droppings in the beams?
These are all signs that a small animal, or family of them, has made its home under your decking.
In the UK rats and garden mice are the most common animals to live under decking. Both can be treated in a similar way, but it you suspect it could be something bigger like a rabbit or badger, it’s always best to confirm.
Is it a rat, mouse or rabbit?
Most garden pests are nocturnal but you might have been able to spot one of the critters running around in the dark. If you have seen them, you’ll know roughly whether its small enough to be a mouse or rat, or large enough to be a rabbit, hedgehog or badger.
You can also look for droppings to confirm the species, as well as the size of any burrow marks under the decking.
Finally, you can try trapping one, in either a live trap which doesn’t kill them, or a conventional trap, to confirm what is really living under there.
How to get rid of mice and rats that live under decking
There are a couple of ways to get rid of these rodents, some more humane than others, depending on how fast and thoroughly you want them to disappear.
By far the fastest and most effective way of getting rid of these rodents is by using conventional rat poison. You should NEVER use rat poison if you have a garden-dwelling pet such as a cat, dog, rabbits etc, as the chemicals used are strong enough to kill even much larger animals who will also be attracted to the smell.
Using rat poison is not advisable if you have young children who may touch it when unsupervised. Also consider whether there are any other garden visitors that might be damaged by rat poison, such as hedgehogs, squirrels and foxes.
Warnings aside, rat poison will kill the pests, and will do it quickly leaving your decking clear.
Rat poison usually comes in pre-packaged bait stations, if the one you buy doesn’t have its own container then create your own limited containers rather than spreading poison around the garden. Keep the space it as limited as possible.
Rodents consume poison and then usually go back to their nests, probably under the decking, where they will die. This means you will need to get under the decking to remove the dead rats, or deal with the smell…
Another effective way of removing rats and mice is to lay traps to catch them.
There are traps that will kill the rodents and also trap-and-release traps that don’t harm them. You’ll need to think about where you could release a pest if you are going to use a trap-and-release, which is by far the more humane way of removing mice and rats from your decking.
Call someone out
Another option is calling out pest control to remove the mice or rats. This is usually a pricier option, with thorough results. There are plenty services like ‘rentokil UK’ which provide pest control for decking.
Pest-proofing the decking
Once you’ve made the effort to remove the rats or mice you will want to protect your decking to prevent them coming back again. This also takes some work but is worth it in the long run.
Seal decking with chicken wire
Rodents enter the decking through small holes and by burrowing under the decking so the first thing you’ll need to do is close off any entrance points.
Patch up any gaps and holes in the decking, make it tight so no small babies could squeeze through.
You’ll also need to create a barrier into the earth with chicken wire or mesh. Rats and mice can get through anything with holes bigger than 12mm, so make sure to buy a mesh or wire finer than this.
Wire or mesh will need to be sunk into the earth around 1 foot below the decking, enough to stop even a very hungry and determined rat from burrowing under. There are plenty of ways you can find online to make this look attractive and not ruin the look of your decking.
For example, using a trellis backed with wire, or framing the wire with matching wood/composite the same colour as the decking. When having decking installed, it’s always best to do this step as it can be hidden inside the decking instead.
Remove the attraction
Often the reason mice and rats chose your decking for their new home is a buffet of delicious food available to them – this comes in the form of bird seed, bbq or brunch crumbs, vegetables close by or cat and dog food left outside.
To prevent rats and mice coming back again consider these ways to minimise food availability for them
- Move your bird feeder away from the decking and be sure to regularly pick up fallen seeds.
- Use an outdoor mat, rug or wood block beneath your bbq and dining area to prevent crumbs falling through decking
- Plant peppermint near any vegetables as rats are repelled by the smell.
Whether it’s a mouse or a rat living under your decking there are several effective options for luring them out. You’ll need to be vigilant about protecting your decking and keeping food scraps clean to prevent them from coming back again.