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5 Tips to Stop Rats From Climbing Your Downspouts

5 Tips to Stop Rats From Climbing Your Downspouts
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One of the few things more unpleasant than seeing a rat in your home is discovering an entire nest of them in your gutter. Yikes!

Not only can these little critters do serious damage to your home, but they can also spread dangerous diseases just by being so close to your living area. If they nest there for long enough, they may also discover the ins and outs of your home.

The very fact that you ended up on this blog post probably means that you’ve just discovered that rats, on top of every other terrible skill they have, are excellent climbers. So, how do you stop rats from climbing your downspout?

In this article, we’ll cover some of the things you can do to keep rats, mice, chipmunks, and even birds out of your gutter! Read to find out how to stop rats from climbing downspouts.

Safety First

It’s crucial to know before you embark on a rodent-eviction project that these little critters can be dangerous. Mice, rats, chipmunks, and squirrels can bite, have nasty claws, and often carry diseases that are quite dangerous.

While they’re pretty shy and fearful of humans, these rodents can get physical if they’re backed into a corner.

If you know there are rats in your gutter system, it may be better to call a pest control service before you go any further.

How to Keep Rodents Out of Downspout

Rats aren’t the only creature that really loves a good messy gutter. In fact, most critters you’ll find in an average foresty backyard wouldn’t say no to a nest in an abandoned gutter, including snakes.

So, what do they all have in common? They love a quiet, damp spot that’s full of dead leaves and twigs… or, in the case of the snake, they love to snack on the things that love damp dead leaves and twigs!

There are lots of things to do to keep rats out of your downspout, but all of them start with a clean, regularly inspected and maintained gutter.

1 – Remove Nearby Branches or Vines

First, it’s important to eliminate any accidental invitations for rodents to use your downspout or gutter as a home or even a means of transportation.

These invitations often come in the shape of branches that lean ever so conveniently against the downspout, or vines wrapping around it like a ladder made just for rats to climb it.

So before we dive into all the extra parts you can add to your gutter system, make sure that you clear any branches or vines at least 6 feet from the downspout.

A chipmunk or a squirrel can easily jump from 6 feet away onto the downspout, but they may be less inclined to do so if they see you there regularly trimming these entrances.

2 – Leave No Space Between the Downspout and the Wall

One thing that people don’t realize about rats and mice is that their preferred way of climbing is by jamming themselves between two surfaces, such as a wall and a downspout.

So if there’s even an inch of space between those two, it’s best to remove it and attach the downspout directly to the wall. The added advantage of that is that it also makes your downspout more secure.

If this is not possible, block the spaces between the downspout and the wall with chicken wire.

3 – Install a Downspout Filter/Guard

Rodents climbing up downspouts to wreak havoc is by no means a new issue. Naturally, that means that there are loads of downspout guards, filters, and even traps made just for the purpose of keeping these pests away.

What you end up choosing to use is up to your preference, budget, and the options available at your local hardware store.

However, it’s very important to make sure that the filter or guard you choose isn’t plastic or similar material that your average rodent can chew through.

Make sure you get something that locks into place. Rats and mice are, as you may already know, smart enough to figure out how to lift a filter out of place.

4 – Seal It With Chicken Wire

This is the simpler and cheaper version of the previous point though it may not look as pretty and perhaps not as convenient.

You can seal the openings of a downspout with chicken wire. The top hole is simple enough; you’ll just need to staple it right onto the gutter and remember to clean it regularly so that it doesn’t get clogged.

The base of the downspout, however, can be a little trickier as you’ll need to be able to remove it to clean out any debris. A simple solution to this is to secure it using metal clips that you can remove easily.

5 – Wash It Down Regularly

We’ve said it already, and we’ll say it again: the main thing that attracts rodents to your downspout or gutter is that it’s abandoned. So if you’re regularly inspecting and cleaning your gutter, you’re a lot less likely to face an issue with pests.

A rain gutter that’s cleaned periodically isn’t safe for rodents. Now, we’re not really talking about the thorough annual cleaning, which involves a lot of scrubbing and scooping. A simple flush of the whole system will do.

If your gutter’s been marinating in dead leaves and moist for a while, we highly recommend getting a professional gutter cleaning service to get you through the first cleaning for two reasons

  1. Cleaning gutters is tricky. You’ll be using a ladder and doing all sorts of awkward movements to get in there, which may end up in an accident if you don’t know what you’re doing
  2. You may encounter nesting rodents which can get dangerous if they’re backed into a corner. They may also surprise you, which is never a good thing to happen when you’re standing on a ladder!

After that, all you’ll need to do is collect any debris using a gutter scoop and work gloves, then flush it with a garden hose. You can do this every season or every three months.

Final Thoughts

Having a family of mice living in your downspout is a huge cause for concern. They often carry dangerous diseases, and they can get into your home if left unattended.

That’s why it’s crucial for all homeowners to understand what attracts rodents to their homes and how to stop rats from climbing downspouts.

There are five things you can do to minimize the chances that a rat will climb your downspouts. First, you’ll need to remove any branches or vines that bring rodents closer to your home.

Second, bridge the gap between the downspout and wall to make it harder for them to climb. It’s also advisable to remove any possible ridges that give them something to grip while climbing.

Third, seal your downspout so they wouldn’t be able to climb down from the roof. Fourth, add a downspout filter or guard so they can’t access its interior.

Finally, make a habit of hosing down your rain gutters to keep them clean and unattractive for pests like mice, rats, chipmunks, and birds.