Rats and mice spread disease, contaminate food, damage property, and can even cause fires by chewing electrical wiring.
Conventional traps are hazardous to children and pets, and rodenticides harm wildlife all the way up the food chain, not to mention leave dying rodents in your walls. So, the next time you suspect mice or rats are scurrying about your home, try this natural and effective 4-step approach instead.
But first, a couple quick guidelines:
WHAT TO LOOK FOR (Common signs of a rodent problem):
• Droppings or urine stains (often found in cabinets, drawers or under appliances)
• Bite marks on food packaging
• Nests made of paper, fabric, insulation, etc
• A musty or sour odor
• Greasy streaks along baseboards or entry points
HOW THEY GET INSIDE:
• Windows and doors without weather stripping
• Poorly sealed crawl spaces
• Utility entry points, such as plumbing
• Pet doors
• Foundation cracks (especially in basements)
1. PREVENT THEM
This is the single most important step to rodent control.
- Avoid planting or maintaining ivy: it offers shelter and acts like a ladder rodents can use to access your home.
- Shorter grass helps prevent both mice and rats. No more than two inches tall for best results. Avoid other clutter like old lawn equipment, firewood and brush piles too.
- Avoid installing or keeping bird baths and feeders. Both attract rodents and other unwanted pests.
- Trash and recycling bins need to be kept clean and firmly sealed.
- Keep at least a 2-foot gap between shrubbery, tree limbs, other greenery and the outside of your home.
- All food that's not in the fridge or freezer should be kept in tightly sealed containers, preferably glass for best results.
- Similarly, seal out rodents by using recycling, trash and compost bins with locking lids.
- Avoid leaving pet food, water, or human leftovers out overnight.
- The less clutter the fewer rodents you'll experience, so organize stacks of papers, piles of fabric, and other unnecessary knick-knacks that can double as potential rat or mice hideouts.
- Tidy up and maintain basements, attics, and crawl spaces to avoid unnecessary moisture, clutter, or food sources.
Lastly, sealing your home is essential. Using spackle or caulk, patch all holes larger than the size of a dime both inside and outside your home, paying special attention to foundations and walling. Ensure baseboards are secure as well. We strongly suggest using weather stripping on all doors and windows, too.
For additional rodent-proofing tips, download this helpful guide from the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
2. STOP FEEDING THEM
If there’s nothing to eat, rodents will vacate your house.
Starve them by storing all food (including pet food) in airtight containers. Wash dishes, wipe counters, and sweep daily to avoid crumbs. Empty trash cans often, too.
3. REPEL THEM
Because peppermint irritates the nasal passages of rodents, it can help keep these pests away from your home.
Simply place a few drops of peppermint essential oil on several cotton balls and strategically place them around known entry points and trouble spots like garages, attics, and kitchen cabinets. Replace every 5-7 days.
You can also deter rodents by encouraging natural and domestic predators. Rescuing or fostering a cat or terrier is the cutest option. Building an owl birdhouse just outside your home also works.
4. CATCH THEM
A humane trap that captures a rodent for later release can be helpful when all else fails. These can be found at hardware stores and sometimes acquired from your local animal control dept.