When rats are running rampant all over, different things may be attempted to take them out. One product that has been thought to work is the mighty mothball. When mothballs are placed in areas frequented by rats they supposedly act as a repelling agent.
While mothballs may act as a repelling agent they have a double edge. Curious rats may decide to nibble on and eat the mothballs. If a rat nibbles on and partially or fully eats a mothball it will make it sick possibly killing it if it eats enough. Mothballs after all are poisonous. So the big question about mothballs is, “Will mothballs help to contain a rat infestation?” and “Will they help to keep rats from invading a home that is rat free?”
The strength of the mothball’s smell could play a part in how effective they work as a repelling agent and how long they will work. The stronger the scent the more repulsive and suffocating they will be to the rats. Once the smell weakens the rats will come back.
To get a strong scent more than one or two mothballs, try five to ten in a small area, will have to be used in a semi-air tight space. Placing the mothballs in an airy or drafty area will fade the scent. Constantly opening and shutting doors or opening windows near where mothballs are set out will lighten the smell. After a few days the smell will weaken by itself. The size of the mothballs may also shrink with evaporation.
If in the area with the mothballs for a few hours or less lightheadedness, headache and nausea can occur. Other symptoms of mothball exposure may also manifest. Its best to keep the room ventilated when in it for a fair amount of time. Even when in the room for a slight amount of time it’s a good idea to open a window or door to avoid breathing in the fumes.
Once the mothballs are out initially the rats may stay away at least for a day possibly two. For one of two reasons, the mothballs are something new and unfamiliar and the smell is overpowering.
To test the efficacy of mothballs, I placed ten where rats where frequenting daily. The rats stayed away for a whole day and night but returned the second day. On the second day the mothballs were still strong enough to give you a headache if you stayed around them and breathed the intoxicating odor. The aroma of the mothballs deteriorated more each day and the rats continued to pay them no attention with exception of two mothballs, which went, unaccounted for.
Rats are more likely to ignore mothballs if there is food around even when the smell of mothballs is at their strongest.
My conclusion is that with rat infestations mothballs are not effective but mothballs, however, may help to discourage rats in search of a home from entering.