Not many of us would wish to share our homes with rodents.
But why do they invite themselves inside in the first place? “Rodents like what we have to offer them,” entomologist Chelle Hartzer told Today, “food, water, and shelter!”
“They like safe places with access to food,” Hartzer further added. “That could be your attic with access to the fruit tree, or trash bin outside your garage with birdseed and pet food sitting out, or your kitchen with dark cabinets and plenty of food options.”
House mice, wood mice, yellow-necked mice, and brown rats are all common in houses, reports Discover Wildlife. Droppings, greasy fur stains, and tiny tooth marks may alert you to the presence of rodents in your home.
Rats and mice potentially carry diseases, and they could do damage to the structure of your home and electrical equipment, but what can you do about it? Here are 10 natural and cruelty-free tips for banishing these unwanted furry families from your home.
1. Don’t use poison
Contrary to popular belief, rodent poisons are actually the least effective of all your options. Rodents who eat poison become poisonous themselves, which will have the disastrous knock-on effect of also harming (and possibly killing) anything that hunts them.
The poison causes a slow, painful death, so humane traps and deterrents should be your first port of call. Just be sure if you use a live, reusable trap like this one to take the rodent at least 2 kilometers away from your home; otherwise, it may very well find its way back.
2. Clean your house
Food crumbs, uncovered food, uncovered garbage cans, and pet food may attract rodents. Take a look around your house for anything that could be more effectively sealed, and make sure all the food in your pantry is stored in an airtight container, as per Good Housekeeping.
3. Check outside your home
Next, venture outdoors. Discourage mice and rats from nesting by removing overgrown patches of weeds and shrubbery and junk piles in your backyard. Ensure there’s no room for mice to squeeze in underneath your outside doors, and store firewood at least 20 feet from the house; wood piles are perfect for nesting rodent families.
4. Patch up leaks
Mice need water as much as they need food. Unfortunately for them, they can’t operate faucets but will gravitate toward a leaky pipe if you have one. Find potential sources of water in your home that aren’t your sink or bathtub faucets and patch them up.
5. Use mothballs
Mothballs, with their pungent, rodent-repelling smell, act as a good deterrent. You might want to reserve mothballs for the garage or attic, however, as they aren’t safe for pets, and their funky smell lingers for a long, long time. Dryer sheets are a viable alternative.
6. …or cat litter
This hack is twofold. Scented cat litter has a strong smell, and it also forewarns mice and rats of the presence of a cat (even if you don’t have one!). Spread the litter where you suspect the mice are nesting, and use a humane trap to catch any mice that jump ship.
7. Block up holes
If you discover any mouse holes in your home, block them up; this will discourage additional mice from nesting there. Steel wool, copper mesh, and caulk all make for great hole pluggers; use plaster if you want a permanent solution.
You’ll need to look closely, too. “House mice can fit through openings as small as a dime, and rats through openings as small as a quarter,” Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, told Today.
8. Use cloves or peppermint oil
Knowing that mice and rats hate strong smells, cloves and peppermint are also excellent deterrents. You can sprinkle ground cloves, a mesh bag full of fresh cloves, or a few drops of undiluted peppermint essential oil on a cotton ball near the site of a mouse nest.
Remember to replace the deterrent every few days to keep the smell pungent.
9. Try ultrasonic devices
These days, you can get hold of indoor devices that use electromagnetic interference, or even ultrasound, to deter rodents from using your home as their own. Be careful, however, not to use these devices if you have bats roosting in your roof space, advises Discover Wildlife, as they are a protected species.
10. Get a cat!
If all else fails, felines are the answer! Cats, even the domesticated variety, are natural rodent predators and will love nothing more than being tasked with the role of keeping your home rodent-free. Just don’t be too upset if they bring you evidence of their efforts from time to time.