How to Get Rid of Rats in a Horse Barn

Written by amy l. gouger
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How to Get Rid of Rats in a Horse Barn
The brown rat can climb trees. (rat image by RomainQuéré from

Rats invest barns because the structure offers shelter and a source of food. Barn owners hate the little rodents; they leave droppings and spoil grain. Because of other domestic animals in the barn, you cannot use methods, like poison or an abundance of snap traps. The most common rat, the brown rat which is also called Norway rat, sewer rat and barn rat, grows up to 12 inches long with greyish brown fur and a thick tail. The opportunistic eater reproduces about five times a year with six to eleven offspring in each litter. Getting rid of rats may take two months to a year to accomplish and the fight will continue until a permanent solution is reached.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Broom
  • Metal dustbins
  • Peppermint oil
  • Cotton balls
  • Wood or metal
  • Screws
  • Cat or dog

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  1. 1

    Put your grain into metal containers to save it from the pesky rodents. Sweep the floors daily to remove the grain pieces from the barn. While barn rats use the barn for shelter, they will infest an unclean barn quicker as it has a source of food.

  2. 2

    Seal up any visible access points with the same material used to create the barn. For example, if the exterior of the barn is sheets of metal then use metal. If the barn is wood, use plywood.

  3. 3

    Soak cotton balls --- the more you use the more effective the method -- with pure peppermint oil and scatter throughout the barn. You can purchase peppermint oil at local health food stores. Repeat when the peppermint smell dissipates.

  4. 4

    Set up mousetraps in corners. Dispose of the trap's contents daily. This method poses some risk to your pets.

  5. 5

    Get a cat. Local shelters are inundated with wild and domestic felines and often adopt cats to barns for a small fee. To make your feline a more productive rat catcher and more apt to stay around the barn, you should adopt more than one cat. Adult cats work better than kittens.

  6. 6

    Use a dog, specifically, a Jack Russell terrier or Rat terrier. Bred for hunting rodents, these dogs possess the instinct to kill rats. Getting a dog is a ten to fifteen year commitment. Consider the consequences before getting one.

Tips and warnings

  • Spay or neuter the cat though many shelters fix the cat before adoption. You will also need to keep it up to date with shots and provide cat food. Many domesticated feline do not eat their prey, but bring them back as "gifts" to their humans.
  • If you choose to get an animal, choose either the cat or the dog as terriers will see the cat as prey, too.
  • Avoid poison as domestic animals might access it, which may result in death of the animal.

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