A fish pond can be a remarkable addition to anyone’s backyard. In addition to housing a thriving ecosystem, they can regulate the temperature around your property.
However, as you might’ve expected, a pond isn’t only alluring to humans, as it can draw many animals and birds, including unwanted ones. So, do ponds attract rats?
One of the main challenges of having a backyard pond is that they attract rats and other rodents. Rats can severely harm the pond and its fish by contamination and may even attack them. But luckily, you can get rid of them in a variety of ways.
In today’s article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about rats attacking ponds, including different tips to keep them at bay. Let’s dive right in!
Rats are always on the lookout for a safe, convenient place where they’ll have access to food and shelter, which makes a backyard pond a great spot for them to hang around.
For starters, rats are surprisingly great when it comes to swimming, especially in relatively shallow waters like backyard ponds.
In fact, according to an article by National Geographic, rats are capable of treading water for up to 3 days and even holding their breath for up to 3 minutes underwater. Since the pond is a great source of water, they are not scared of going near it.
Not only that, but as major scavengers, rats will happily eat just about anything, including fish food. In other words, for rats, a fish pond is an excellent source of food and water.
Lastly, since rats have many predators, finding a good place for shelter is critical for their survival. If you grow tall plants around the pond, they’ll likely nest there.
Rats aren’t the only pests that you’ll have to keep in mind while setting up a fish pond in your backyard.
A wide range of pests have a similar appetite to rats, so they’ll likely hang around ponds too. This includes mice, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, and a lot more.
Ponds can also attract a variety of backyard birds who are more likely to land and nest near a small body of water. Some of these birds are enjoyable but others can be quite annoying and problematic.
As previously established, rats are excellent shallow-water swimmers. On the other hand, rats will eat just about any food they can lay their hands on. This includes raw food, cooked food, or even rotten food.
Since fish have a distinctive smell, rats are capable of smelling them from a huge distance. A hungry rat might even jump into the water and attack the fish of the pond or even try to eat them.
This also includes bottom dwellers because rats can dive underwater and hold their breath for a long time.
Typically, rats will try to attack smaller pond fish, such as minnows. However, they can also attack larger fish species if they’re slow enough, so larger fish like koi aren’t safe from their attacks as well.
The impact of rats on your backyard can be seen from a variety of angles. Here’s a quick look at all the reasons why you should never let rats near your backyard pond:
To avoid getting caught by predators, rats will spend most of their time burrowing and digging holes where they can nest underground.
If a rat isn’t able to access your pond from the top, it’ll simply dig its way from the underground. The problem here is that they’ll chew through the liner in the process, which damages the infrastructure of the pond and drains its water.
Depending on the size of the hole that the rats made, the pond might drain very quickly and your fish would be at serious risk of suffocating to death.
Rats are always hungry for any food that they can get their hands on. Although they’ll always try to go for the small fish species first, they will settle for excess fish food in the pond if they can’t catch them.
Since most people will typically give fish more food than they need, leftovers will usually be floating around the surface.
The problem here is that rats will start munching on these remains which can starve the fish and cause malnourishment, especially if you’re going to be away for a while.
Rats carry a myriad of dangerous microbes and parasites on their bodies, so they can spread a lot of diseases to almost all life forms.
Some of the most common diseases that a rat can spread are also quite dangerous and even fatal.
This includes diseases like Weil’s disease, hantavirus, salmonella, tularemia, leptospirosis, and more!
Rats will also urinate in the water which also spreads diseases and increases the concentration of toxic wastes in the pond water, making it dangerous for inhabitant fish species.
Contaminating the water can spread diseases among fish that can kill them within a few days to weeks.
Rats multiply quickly, so they’re always looking for new spots where they can find more food and safer shelter.
While infesting your backyard, rats will attack small birds and kill their chicks. Additionally, their next stop would be attacking your garden and eating any plants or fruits they can find.
Even worse, rats can invade your house and chew through the insulation layers as well as the wires in the walls, which can be very costly to repair.
As you can see, rats can be a huge headache, but luckily, you can keep them away from your pond using some of the following tips:
While scouting for a new spot to seek shelter, rats and other rodents always prioritize spots with plenty of hiding spots.
This is because rats have many predators so they always need to be hidden. Things like small tree branches, fallen leaves, and other backyard clutter offer the perfect chance for rats to blend in nicely and hide from predators.
If you like to eat outside, make sure that you pack away all the remains and throw them in the trash as soon as you’re done.
For that reason, always make sure that you clean the area around the pond and keep the grass short so that rats deem the spot unfavorable.
If you already suffer from a rat problem, your best bet here is to use mouth traps. Mouse traps come in a variety of types, with some of them designed to capture live rats and others will kill them.
The most irresistible bait to rats is berries and nut butter. By placing various traps around the pond, you’ll be able to catch all the rats within a few days.
Although nothing beats poison when it comes to eradicating rats, you should never use it around the pond.
For starters, rat poison takes a few minutes before it activates. By that time, the rat might find its way to the water, which will spread the poison to all the fish in your pond.
Additionally, rain and wind can end up seeping the poison into the soil and water, which will damage the whole area and take a very long time to recover.
To make the pond less attractive for vermin and pests to invade, avoid overfeeding your fish because leftovers can be a major attraction to rats.
Also, never leave fish food exposed or near the pond because rats will try to chew their way through.
Instead, keep the food packed inside an airtight container and stored safely in a cool and dry spot inside your house.
Although rats won’t mind eating through a lot of things, there are some plants that they typically like to avoid.
Although the mechanism of deterring varies between different plants, most of these plants emit fragrant scents that are annoying to rats, as they cause problems in their nervous system.
Among the most popular plant and herb species here are garlic, onions, peppermint, tomatoes, sage, daffodils, and marigolds.
You can also plant oregano, rosemary, lavender, and other plant species that produce a lovely scent while keeping the rats at bay.
Although rats will go just about anywhere as long as it provides them with food and shelter, they won’t dare to go anywhere near their predators.
A good way to keep them at bay is by using your pet, especially cats, which are excellent hunters when it comes to catching rats.
Even better, you can opt for fake owls, preferably ones that produce a hooting sound, and move their head around every now and then. These can be deployed at your house 24/7 and won’t attack your fish like cats might do.
With a decent ability to swim and an ample appetite to munch on anything edible, rats can easily wreak havoc in your backyard pond. They can damage the vegetation, contaminate the water, and even attack the fish.
For that reason, always make sure that your pond and the surrounding region are always clean and avoid leaving excess fish food in the open. Additionally, utilize the help of natural deterrents and rodent predators to keep the rats at bay.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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