How to Easily Keep Rats Off Your House Boat
If you’re a boat owner, you are probably aware of how frustrating it can be to have uninvited guests like rats and mice on your vessel.
So lately I have been facing this problem with my boat. It’s the first time this is happening because maybe it is overly cold in Dayton after a long time, and I heard that rodents tend to invade during winter.
These pesky creatures can chew open a hole, gnaw their way through, and leave you pissed, ready to take action.
But is there anything you could do to keep rodents off your boat?
Well, I read that there are a lot of small terrier breeds, such as rat terriers and Jack Russels, that can make a good rodent defense, but here are some more effective hacks you can use:
NB: Whatever you do, do not poison! It doesn’t matter what they state on the label, but the poison can find its way into something higher in the food chain and kill it.
1) Keep Your Boat Empty and Clean
An effective method to keep rats off your vessel is ensuring you boat is always clean and empty. Leave the storage spaces and compartments open and set the seat cushions up.
Rats, like other rodents, usually set camp on your boat if there’s food and shelter. If the boat is clean and open, the rats might stop by, but they won’t set up shop. Do this, and you’ll hardly have issues with your boats or RVs.
Food issue is the major factor in why rodents hang around. So, give the deck a nice pressure wash and ensure no crumbs are left. Then use Irish Spring and Cab-Fresh in the spaces over the winter.
2) Set Up Some Traps
Traps are an old-fashioned, yet effective method to get rid of rodent menace. The snap kind costs around $4 and uses peanut butter as bait. It’s an economical method, and it works great.
And if you feel like you’re so deep into it, you can utilize some live traps.
The key to proper use of traps is to make sure the side with the bait, or rather the snap side of the trap, is set such that it faces the wall or something similar on your boat. This is because rats and mice almost always run along the edge of walls. So no rat will fall into the trap if you set it in the middle of the space or compartment.
3) Kill the Rats
Sometimes it just happens that there’s no structure, barrier, or such passive item that will keep rodents at bay.
In fact, in my case, the more I tried to keep them out, the more likely they were to try and get back in. And if they’re always trying, they will eventually find a way.
Depending on where you live, you might want to consider setting your boat more in habitat for things that eat mice and rats; think of things like wild cats, owls, and hawks.
4) Disposable Plates
The next option is to purchase disposable plates and load them with mothballs. Then poke a bunch of holes at the top, place them on the boat’s floor, and keep it covered over the winter.
This way, the boat will be leaking mothballs, which can effectively deter rodents.
Additionally, you may want to glue stainless steel screens over the gouges at the bottom of the boat. This will help to make it hard for rats to enter the under-seat compartments.
This is a relatively new system, though, but it worked great for the majority of boat owners and even for RVs.
5) Drier Sheets
Instead of disposable plates, some people use drier sheets where they stuff with about ten mothballs and then tie them up.
After that, put them all around the boat and in the compartments. Depending on your environment, you might have to replace them sometimes until you’re ready for spring, as the smell dissipates quickly once the cover is off or open.
Another thing, while we’re on the subject, is using steel wool. The only thing these diminutive critters won’t chew through is steel wool, especially with polyurethane foam sprayed all over.
So consider shoveling steel wool into the cracks and crevices on your boat, then apply some good stuff to it. It works like a charm.
6) Oil repellent and Chili Powder
Chili powder and oil repellent can be good deterrents to keeping rats and mice off your boat. Simply sprinkle the unit on the outer surface, any covers, and perhaps any holes in your boat.
As for the oil repellent, the most common option for this matter is rosemary oil repellent. It smells good and works great for boats and RVs.
After that, get rid of all possible food items. You may use every oil-repellent option without results if the object is crammed with leftovers and rodent consumable items. So be sure to remove all possible foods and maybe set traps where you find feces.
7) Using Irish Spring Soaps
I’ve seen people who have used Irish spring soap bars for years with no issues. However, I suggest you shrink-wrap your boat to keep the scent within the cover longer. Shrink wrap can be a great yearly maintenance expenditure for a boat owner.
It is always best to keep your boat well covered during winter, but still, your tentative should be getting it shrink-wrapped so that it’s safe even when stored outside.
That said, if you choose to do this, be careful not to drive faster than 45 or so to prevent the wrapping from coming off.
8) Try Planting Some Mint
This might not be one of the most common strategies, and it can help keep rats and mice off your boat.
Consider placing some mint plants or cayenne pepper toward the shed’s base. Although it won’t keep them out, the potent tastes and scents may deter them from entering. You may also scatter a few mothballs in the corners.
How Do You Know the Best Approach to Use?
The best approach to your rat preventative measure will mostly depend on whether the boat is stored on land or a dock. So let’s discuss each separately:
Boat Stored On a Dock
The easiest way for rats and other critters to access your docked pontoon is through the ropes securing the unit to the dock.
Therefore, it makes sense to block the entrances. And that’s where rat guards come to play.
Rat guards are plastic plates designed to go around the mooring line. They create a barrier that rats cannot scale, preventing them from getting inside the boat.
As an alternative, I’ve heard of individuals using frisbees to create their Rat guards.
Another option is to use a plastic 2-liter bottle with the bottom cut off, the open end towards the pier, and the mooring line threaded through the bottle.
This way, the rodent will spin and struggle as it attempts to climb up the bottle.
Some claim that if your boat is too close to the dock, rats could leap into it, but I highly doubt this will happen.
Rats and mice can jump quite well, given their size, but it is mostly when they’re in danger. In case you spot a point of entrance, you can set up some snap traps on the boat’s side of it or try to get it sealed with steel wool. These creatures cannot chew through such items.
Boat Stored On Land
Boats will be at higher risk of rodent damage when stored on land than in water.
This is especially true if the rats can get in, and as you may already know, boats stationed on land have more possible access points than those in the water.
The best way to keep your boat safe on land is by blocking off every potential entry.
Consider placing snap traps at the bottom and top of the tread of the trailer’s tire i.e., if you have daily access to your boat, as it might not be practical for boats stored offsite.
Then check to ensure no straps or ropes are dangling from the boat to the ground.
Also, try setting up some solar lights to illuminate underneath your boat at night if it is kept offsite. You can purchase solar rope lights for that, and at night I would advise wrapping them around the bases of the tire treads.
Rats and mice don’t like being exposed to light, which will keep them from scaling your tires.
Moreover, placing dryer sheets, mothballs, or pieces of Irish Spring soap in containers around the boat would be a nice idea (though it isn’t such a wise move as a standalone approach for rat and mice prevention.
What to Do If the Rodents Have Nested On Your Boat
Unfortunately, preventive measures might not be enough if rats have already settled on your vessel. Here are some methods for getting rid of rats that have already made a home on your boat.
Use a Cat
Cats make excellent pets because they not only chase out mice but also capture and kill any that are inside.
The easiest way to use your cat’s mouse-catching abilities is to ensure they have easy access to the necessary locations. If not, some mice will continue to hide in locations your cat can’t get.
It might look like a good plan to poison rats already aboard the boat, but after a while, the boat will start to smell. And locating the corpses will not be easy.
After consuming poison, rats are inclined to seek refuge and rest in dimly lit regions. So, if they spend their final hours in such places, it will be difficult to find the foul corpses.
It turns out that the most effective technique to stop this is to capture the rats and let them die in the trap even after eating poisoned food.
You’ll need to ensure there is no other food on board for this tactic to work. They will be compelled to consume the bait if it is the only food available.
Install Light in Dark Places
You will also need to keep your boat clean and ensure the spaces and storage compartments are as empty as possible.
Thoroughly clean every susceptible area to remove any food crumbs. Check closely and eliminate cheese and peanut butter, as these are rats’ most favored snacks.
After that, install lights in dim locations to prevent rodents from hiding or leaving their waste there.
It’s important to use latex gloves when cleaning up rat waste since it contains a lot of bacteria that might cause food poisoning and other serious ailments.
Additionally, you should discard any food that mice may have gotten into because it may be contaminated.
Rats and mice can be rather obnoxious creatures. They quickly do a dreadful job in a couple of days. Therefore, it’s crucial to stop them from accessing your vessel, and you can do so by using the techniques I’ve just described.