Water bodies are a place that draws all kinds of organisms towards them. Therefore, any water body located in any part of the world always attracts various life forms. However, every animal is not beneficial for it, and a pond is definitely not an exception.
Ponds, a significant food and fresh water source, attract rodents like rats, mice, muskrats, minks, and many other pests from time to time. Because of the abundance of food in and around a pond, rats and mice feast on everything edible in your pond, including fish. Rats also hunt small birds and their eggs having nests around a pond.
Undoubtedly, they are a nuisance and do not contribute to the pond ecosystem but mess up everything present there, creating severe problems for other living organisms and, of course, the pond owners.
Does a Pond Attract Rats?
Yes, it does! Rats are often drawn in by the smell of fish food or other food from ponds or birdfeeders. They are always on the lookout for food, which is one of the primary reasons they’ve come to your pond. If there are places to hide and take shelter, they happily stay there. Yes, you heard that right!
What Attracts Rats to Ponds?
Here are 5 things that mostly attract rats to ponds.
1. Smells and Odors
Odors and smells from pet waste, fish food, pet food, garbage containers, bird feeders, barbecue grills, and even unharvested fruit and nuts from plants can attract rats and mice.
2. Fish Food
When fish are in the pond, they are fed fish food. Sometimes they are given excess food, and the leftover food remains floating in the water. Therefore, rodents are attracted to this leftover food. As both rats and mice are excellent swimmers, they will find a way to get into the pond and feast on that food. Even if the food is in water, it makes no difference!
Sometimes fish food is kept in any container on the pond’s bank, so they won’t need to be carried every time. But unfortunately, this readily available food also attracts the rats to feast on it.
3. Birds and Eggs
Different kinds of birds are seen around a pond as they like to make their nests around that area. Some build nests on the trees around the pond. Some even choose the muddy banks as their nest sites.
Unfortunately, rats frequently move to these places to hunt the unprotected baby birds and eggs in their nests. Giant rats are even found to hunt baby ducks!
As we know, rats are excellent swimmers. Unfortunately, sometimes they also attack the fish in your pond, searching for food. Their prime targets are slow fish like koi or small fish such as minnows. Needless to say, once they get habituated to hunting fish, the fish population in your pond decreases drastically.
5. Plants that attract Rats
Rats and mice feed on various plants that grow fruit and vegetables, for example, oranges, avocados, peaches, lemons, and figs. They love walnuts and almonds. These plants around the pond will attract rats since they provide an excellent food source for living. Therefore, all fallen fruit and nuts must be removed and discarded at the earliest.
Do Rats Eat Fish Out of a Pond?
Yes. When there is plenty of fish in the pond, rats get attracted to it in search of food and eat fish out of the pond.
The fish swimming in your pond is probably the most tempting and accessible food source. As rats are excellent swimmers, they also attempt to hunt the fish in the pond. Once they get habituated to hunting fish, they mainly target slow swimmers like koi or small fish such as minnows. They also try to chase any very small or young fish if your pond is too shallow.
Should You Use Rat Poisons?
Though it is handy to use rat poisons to solve the rodent problem, rat poison should not be used near an outdoor pond. This could pose a hazard to the wildlife in and around the pond. Rat poison can enter your pond by being washed away by rain.
Once it enters and mixes with the pond water, it will kill the fish in your pond. It can also seep into the garden’s soil, making it infertile. The subterranean layer of water also gets affected by rat poison.
How Do Rodents Affect Your Pond?
Following are 5 common ways by which rodents affect your pond.
1. Draining Water
Rats are very clever creatures as they discover different ways to get to your pond. A common sign that rats are interfering with your pond is a sudden drop in the water level.
Rats arrive at the pond through the bottom while burrowing through a rat or mouse hole. If they reach the bottom of your pond, they chew through the pond liner and break it, and the pond begins to lose water.
2. Ruining the Water
Rats ruin the pond water by urinating in the water. This urine is harmful to the fish and can also be a reason of various diseases to the living organisms in and around the pond.
3. Spreading Diseases
Rats are known for spreading diseases. They transmit several diseases that are potentially harmful to living organisms because of the bacteria they leave behind. One of the most dangerous diseases is Weil’s Disease, a kind of flu with several symptoms, including fever, headache, nausea, muscle aches, chest pain, and jaundice.
In addition, rats carry many other fatal diseases such as hantavirus, leptospirosis, tularemia and salmonella. Rats and other vermin primarily spread these diseases through their urine.
If rats make a home in and around your pond and then urinate on the grass and plants, it becomes a severe problem. Since the bacteria can remain active for up to a month, this can pose a threat to the health of anyone coming in contact with the plants or grass.
4. Rats will eat Excess Fish Food
Rats eat just about anything. This is why they are primarily attracted to garden ponds that provide many food sources. One of them is the food you feed your fish.
Unfortunately, feeding fish too much food results in the leftovers floating on the surface of the water, attracting rats, which might have accidentally spilled over into the plants and grass around the pond.
5. Destroying the Environment
Rats are harmful to the pond and the surrounding environment as well. They hunt birds, their babies, and eggs, which will lead to the absence of harmless birds and animals in your garden if it goes on uninterrupted.
How To Prevent Rats in Your Pond?
First, you need to understand what attracts rats to your pond and its surrounding areas. There could be several reasons that attract rats. Try to know why the rats are there and what attracts the rats that need to be removed.
1. Do not feed excess or leave excess fish food near the Pond
This is a warning that you should never overfeed your fish as fish food is the primary reason for the rodents to attack the pond. That essentially means not leaving any extra fish food floating on the surface of your pond and around the pond as well. Fish can derive most nutrients from the pond’s ecosystem if well balanced.
Therefore, you should feed them a small amount of extra. However, extra food will also attract rats, and anything the rats don’t eat will sink to the bottom of the pond and decay-causing the growth of algae.
2. Keep your garden or backyard pond Clean
Rats are very clever; suppose they find food in a specific spot more than a few times, they will continually come back expecting to find more. Thus, if you occasionally have picnics or otherwise eat around your pond, don’t forget to clean things up when you’re done.
3. Remove potential Rat Shelter
Minimize any potential rat shelters to restrict rats near your pond. Rats love small areas like crevices between rocks or thick spots of bushes or plants, which are difficult or impossible to remove due to the physical nature of your pond. Still, you should try to leave as few spaces as possible for any rats to squeeze through.
4. Restricting access to Food
Sometimes many of you may have bird feeders in your gardens. Unfortunately, rats are attracted to them as well. You should try to put your bird feeders as much away from the pond as possible.
5. Fortifying the Pond
Make sure that the rats cannot even go anywhere near the pond. This requires you to fortify your pond. For example, build a pond with bricks on a raised plane so that the rats cannot enter the pond quickly.
Also, make sure that no part of the pond liner is exposed. If you want to ensure that the rats don’t enter the pond from the bottom, try putting cement on top of the liner instead of installing them on the ground.
6. Keep Cats
Having one or more cats poses a threat to the rats, and that means that rodents will think twice before entering your pond, and you will sleep peacefully at night.
7. Use Mouse Traps
Mousetraps are no doubt another great and popular way to prevent rats from messing up your pond. Place a few mouse traps around the pond’s bank. Also, leave attractive baits on them to eliminate most rodents in days.
8. Having a Selected Plants around the Pond
Certain plants act as rodent deterrents. Plant these along the side of the pond to repel the rodents. Rats tend to avoid solid herbal aromas from the following 15+ plants. They are:
- Citronella plants
- Grape hyacinth
- Black Pepper
Remember, the moment you discover a rat problem has been found, it becomes imperative to act fast to remove the rats and ensure they do not come back.