Do Onions Kill Rats?
If you have rats, the only thing you want to know is how to get rid of them fast. Many people do not want to use poisons because of the potential danger to pets, children, and wildlife. A quick search on the Internet leads to many articles that claim onions will get rid of rats, but is this just a myth, or is it something you should try?
How Do Onions Get Rid of Rats?
Information on whether onions kill rats is controversial at best. Many claim that rats can be poisoned by eating onions. Others claim that it does nothing at all. Rats do seem to be repelled by onions because the pungent odor irritates their eyes just as it does when we cut an onion. An onion will not keep rats out of your entire house and will only work for a few feet around the onion.
The best information on this topic comes from those who own pet rats and want to keep them alive. The consensus is that rats should not consume raw onions because it causes a type of anemia called hemolytic anemia, where red blood cells become weak and are destroyed. However, if you are trying to get rid of rats, rats would not likely eat enough raw onion to poison themselves because of the pungent smell.
Other websites claim that you can kill rats by cooking the onions and hiding them in foods like gravy and other people food they like. When it comes to this technique, the bad news is that some people with pet rats say feeding them cooked onions is okay.
Onions contain disulfide and thiosulphates, which can be toxic to your pets, including rats, cats, and dogs. Cooking them reduces these compounds but does not eliminate them completely.
Cats seem to be more sensitive to dogs, and certain breeds of dogs are also more sensitive. Both raw and cooked onions have the same effect. In these animals, even a small amount can be fatal. However, rats seem to tolerate the amounts found in onions occasionally, and some feed cooked onions to their pet rats a few times a week with no ill effects.
How to Use Onions to Get Rid of Rats
When the research is in, the answer to whether you can use onions to get rid of rats seems to be mostly in the realm of old wive’s tales. No clinical veterinary studies could be found on rats and onions, but plenty of studies on feeding them to dogs and cats. One study did explore red onion extract in pet rats and found it to have a therapeutic effect for them in small doses. All rats in the study lived and were healthy afterward.
One site claimed that you could mix a small amount of onion with meat, and the rats would accidentally eat the onion and die instantly. This is simply not true. Rats would have to consume large amounts of onions day after day for it to be effective. They might experience a little tummy upset, but they will recover. Rats are intelligent animals and are not likely to consume enough accidentally to become ill.
Other Ways to Get rid of Rats Naturally
Now that the myth about repelling or killing rats with onions has been debunked, you are probably wondering if any natural remedies do work. The answer is that there are some ways to get rid of rats without resorting to toxic poisons.
Rats, and most rodents, have sensitive noses and are repelled by certain aromatic oils. You can place cotton balls by the holes where the mice are getting into the home, which might keep them away. Peppermint oil is one that many people claim to have had success with, but here are a few more that people have reported having good results:
- Cayenne Pepper
- Pepper Oil
The only essential oil that has been studied and found to be effective is eucalyptus oil.
You can place cotton balls with these oils around the areas of your homes where rats frequent and in front of any known entrances. You need to be aware that you will have to replace them frequently because the oil evaporates. When the smell becomes weak, it will not be effective any longer.
Other Myths For Getting Rid of Mice
Diatomaceous Earth & Rats
Another common strategy is using diatomaceous earth. The claim was that the rats would eat it, and they would dehydrate. The problem with that is the same as with onions. Rats would not be attracted to diatomaceous earth, and if there is a ready water source available, the rats are likely to recover.
Baking Soda & Rats
Some claim feeding rats baking soda mixed with sugar will kill them. The idea is that the baking soda will react with the rat’s stomach acid and kill them. The problem is that the rat needs to consume a lot of baking soda, which is not likely to happen. It is more likely that the rat will get a tummy ache and recover. Also, if you have many rats, it will not get rid of all of them.
Potato Flakes & Rats
Some sites claim that you can use dried instant potato flakes. They claimed that the rats would eat them and then become thirsty and drink water. The potato flakes would expand in their belly and kill them. Once again, it is unlikely that they would consume enough to kill them, and they would only end up with a tummy ache.
Effective Strategies for Getting Rid of Rats
No one has actually seen a rat die from eating onions, baking soda, potato flakes, or any other home remedies. The best way to get rid of rats is to make your home an inhospitable environment, and don’t put out the welcome mat. Here are some hints.
- Clean your home. Keeping your home clean is the best way to get rid of rats. Clutter and food lying around give them everything they need to become cozy. If they do not find anything to eat and there is no place to hide, they will go elsewhere.
- Empty the garbage. The smell of garbage signals that there is food nearby, so keeping your trash out will help you get rid of rats for good.
- Seal entrances. If you know where the rats are getting in, you can seal the entrances. One of the most overlooked spots is where water and sewer pipes come into your house. Sealing up will make it harder to get in. Rats can chew through many materials, but they seem to be deterred by placing steel wool in the holes.
- Don’t keep food in plastic or cardboard. Rats can smell food through plastic and cardboard packaging, and they can easily chew through it. Putting your food in glass jars and containers will eliminate this temptation.
- Eliminate water sources. If you have containers of standing water around your home, you are giving them more reason to stay. They do not need much water to survive, so you need to get rid of any that you can find.
Now, you know some ways to get rid of rats that work and some that do not. There is often no quick solution to getting rid of rats. It requires good housekeeping habits and vigilance to eliminate them and keep them from coming back.