What Smells Do Rats Dislike?

Keeping your home free from rats and other rodents are essential for your health and the health of your family. If you have a problem with rats in your home, place of work, or anywhere else, it is important to know how to repel these little critters. Rats have a tremendous sense of smell. Just as some smells attract rats, there are also many smells that rats dislike.

Knowing something about a rat’s sense of smell can help you deter them from setting up home on your property. Rats’ sensory organs have the ability to pick up certain chemicals in the environment that affect their behavior. This means that rats instinctively hate certain smells because these aromas mean danger for them. You can, therefore, use this information to your advantage if you discover that you have a rat on your property.

Of course, no one wants to see a rat in their home or to find evidence that rats have infested a basement, garage, or any other living area.

The best way to keep rats away from your home is to avoid clutter and dirt. This not only creates aromas that will attract rats to your home but gives them the perfect environment to build their nests and live in.

What can you do to make sure that rats are not attracted to your home? In this article, you will learn about the various smells that repel rats. Along with other preventative measures, you can use these odors to deter and repel rats. So, what smells do rats dislike? Let’s begin by taking a look at some of the strong chemical smells that keep rats away.

Chemical smells

There are, of course, many chemicals that repel rats and stop them from infesting your home. However, many homeowners are wary of using these chemicals because they are toxic to humans and to the environment. For example, many people claim that rats hate the smell of mothballs. While the smell of the chemical naphthalene which is found in mothballs may deter rats, it can also be toxic to humans. This scenario was described in an informational article published by the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC).

This article related how one man placed several boxes of mothballs in his basement because he had heard that rats detest the smell of mothballs. The next day, the man’s wife complained of breathing difficulties and developed a chronic headache. After contacting the NPIC, the man learned that mothballs produce a toxic gas that can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, and respiratory irritation.

There are also some claims that the smell of substances such as bleach, paint thinner, ammonia or other strong toxic chemicals can deter rats. However, there is no scientific evidence that rats hate the smell of such chemicals.

The smell of predators

One of the smells that rats definitely dislike because it heightens their sense of danger is the smell of their predators. If a rat comes across the odor of an animal like a cat, ferret, stoat, or raccoon, they are likely to stay away.

An article with evidence of rats’ aversion to the odor of predators was published in The Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers discovered that smells from mammals such as cats elicit a strong stress response in rats. They noticed that when various species of rats were exposed to the odor of cats or ferrets, their stress hormones rose and their behavior changed. So, keeping a cat at home to keep vermin away might not be such a bad idea after all. Cats are not just good at natural pest control, but even their odor seems to act as a pest deterrent.

Researchers from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute also determined that rats dislike the urine of carnivores. The urine of meat-eaters has a specific compound (2-phenylethylamine) that rodents hate. To humans, the smell of urine is slightly offensive. But, to rats and mice, the smell of urine is the smell of danger. Of course, it is unlikely that you will want to use the smell of urine to deter rodents. There are, however, some natural aromas that may help to keep rats away.

Natural smells

Read on to find out what smells rats hate that will not negatively affect the environment and are safe for humans. We will also let you know if there is any scientific evidence to back up the claims of these natural rodent repellents.


Many websites claim that rats do not like the strong smell of peppermint while other websites claim that peppermint does not affect rates at all. While peppermint will make your home smell nice, is there any evidence that peppermint can repel rats?

There is actually some scientific research which shows that rats do avoid the smell of peppermint. For example, researchers in Thailand found that peppermint oil was somewhat effective in keeping rats away. They came to this conclusion when the rats spent less time in areas where there was the smell of peppermint. Interestingly, the same scientists discovered that bergamot is another smell that keeps rats away. Bergamot is a citrus fruit whose flavoring gives Earl Grey tea its distinct taste. While humans can either like or detest the flavor of bergamot, it seems to be a smell that rats dislike.

Because rats seem to dislike peppermint, you could try using a peppermint spray at the entry points to your home. You could even plant mint in your garden to help deter rats from setting up home in your yard.


The potent aroma of eucalyptus oil seems to be offensive to rats and could prevent them from nesting, feeding, or living in your home. One of the reasons that the scent of eucalyptus can be used as a rodent repellent is that it contains compounds rats hate. A study published in 2014 found that spraying a solution of 10% eucalyptus oil repelled house rats. The scientists observed that the rats avoided food that had been sprayed with the eucalyptus solution.

Eucalyptus oil

Amawasri Pakdara/Shutterstock.com

One of the drawbacks of using eucalyptus oil is that you have to spray every other day to keep the rats at bay. On the positive side, even though rats do not like the smell of eucalyptus, the pleasant aroma will keep your home smelling fresh.


While citronella is known to repel mosquitos and other flying insects, there is some evidence that the smell can be off-putting to rats. It could be that odors from citronella interfere with the rat’s sensory organs or affect how the rat perceives danger in the environment. For example, some researchers found that rats tended to stay away from the bait that had been treated with citronella oil. The researchers concluded that a daily application of citronella could act as a potential natural rodent repellent.

There are many smells that rats do not like and you can use these to keep them away from your property. However, any good rat prevention and control method should incorporate a multi-faceted approach to keeping the critters out. So, first make sure that rats have no way to enter your home through the basement, attic, or openings in external walls.


Main editor

Expert in mosquito control and the main website editor at InsectCop.net. Karen started InsectCop to help people get rid of mosquitoes. But now she gives advice an all things pest control.



Will a mouse (or rat) enter a shed if the gasoline generator is going an blowing out fumes?


    Mice, rats and other rodents will most likely keep away from your shed if you have the gasoline generator going. Not only due to the smell but also because of the fumes as well as noise.

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