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No, mothballs or ammonia don’t help at all in repelling rats. In fact, there are no actual repellents that will make rats leave a place that they see as their home, where they are safe and near food sources. Rats are highly suspicious of their surroundings, and will always thread carefully while going about their business. If they feel secure enough to make a home somewhere, they definitely won’t leave their safe haven because of what we presume to be a horrid smell for them.
Naphthalene is the key ingredient in almost all repellents found on the market, and even those repellents don’t do a good job, or a job at all, at deterring rats. Evidently, mothballs won’t work either. Additionally, filling a space with mothballs is not healthy for the environment, and can present health risks for both people and other animals that are exposed to this insecticide. You may wonder why doesn’t it help with rats if it’s harmful to other animals. Well, the rats we’re talking about will rarely live for more than a year, so they won’t be exposed long enough for the chemical to affect and deteriorate their health. Only the smell factor is in play, and that alone won’t make rats leave behind the comforts of a safe place. So, you’re harming yourself, you’re harming the environment, and the rats couldn’t care less.
Ammonia is only dangerous to amphibians and fish, but while humans and the environment are safe from ammonia side effects, so are the rats. Again, we’re just talking about a foul smell, and rats won’t be bothered by it enough to evacuate the only place in the world they know they can be safe in. Rat urine already contains ammonia, so no matter if use it in an attempt to repel rats or not, beware of using bleach when performing rat decontamination. Ammonia mixed with bleach will produce a gas that’s dangerous to breathe in. Rat urine should be neutralized with an enzymatic cleaner before using bleach.
If you have a rat problem on your property, you have all the reasons to act quickly. Every day that passes by may lead to new rats appearing, or more rats being born. This means more structural damage, more feces and urine, more health risks for you. Using such foolish methods as ammonia or mothballs in an attempt to solve the problem will only add more rats for you to eventually deal with. There are good ways to get rid of rats promptly and permanently. I personally use the lethal snap trap method, but you always have other options that at least will work better than repellents. I talk more about all these methods here, and you’re more than welcome to try and find the best solution for particular rat problem by further browsing on this website. For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does rat removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of rats - my main rat removal info guide.
Example rat trapping photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Rat job blog - learn from great examples of rat jobs I've done.