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How to Get Rid of Mice Naturally | The Old Farmer's Almanac

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10 Ways to Get Rid of Mice Naturally

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Mice in the house create a mess with their droppings, cause damage to structures, and carry disease. In this article, we’ll tell you how to 1) be sure it’s mouse damage, 2) do your own pest inspection, and 3) employ our 10 natural mouse repellents that work!

Why You Need to Get Rid of Mice

Mice live near humans. You may need to learn to live with mice, but you need to keep them under control. All mice need is a hole the size of a dime and then more mice will follow. Mice also give birth up to 10 times a year with 6 to 12 babies per little so you need to tackle a mouse problem quickly.

Mice are bothersome and costly, because they contaminate a great deal of food for humans—from our crops to our cupboards.  They chew holes in wires and destroy houses. They also carry disease and bacteria. 

Identification

How to Identify Mice

The first step is to make 100% sure you’ll dealing with mice, not juvenile rats or bats or another critter because the control methods are different. There are many animals that can be scratching inside your walls, including squirrels.

Mice are small rodents that have relatively large ears and small black eyes. They are usually gray or light brown. Mice weigh about 1/2 of an ounce, and they are five to seven inches in length. Their tail adds an additional three to four inches to that length. 

Mice are characterized by a musky odor, and they are often active at night. They also have droppings that are smaller than a grain of sand (unlike rats and other pests). The only dropping size that is similar is bats. If you do have bats, you’ll notice their droppings are more crumbly and mouse droppings squash flat. 

In addition, if mice are trapped inside your house, you’ll notice a distinct odor due to the defecating and urinating; plus, often some mice will die and be unable to escape.

Mouse Damage

In the home, especially in your attic or basement, mice will chew small holes in boxes, fabric, newspapers, and whatever they can find to make a nest. In addition, mice will check on drywall and insulation and even wiring. 

When mice come inside, they’ll look for a place with water. You’ll often finding droppings under sinks or near toilets or in wet basements or garages. Once they get into the kitchen (often via plumbing), they will look for food. Mice can easily chew through food packaging and you’ll find proof of them by the droppings they leave along their path (as well as urine stains which may not be as visible).

In the garden, mice also love to tunnel and chew. Partially eaten potatoes or carrots are a sign of mice activity. They also love to eat newly sown seeds. 

Mice and mice feces can cause very serious diseases so take this issue seriously.

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Photo credit: Pixabay


 

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Control and Prevention

How to Prevent Mice

Mouse traps are not only inhumane but also they don’t keep mice out of your house. It’s more important to prevent mice with exclusion methods that deter mice from entering your home in the first place. Here’s what to do first.

1. Do a Pest Inspection

Do your own interior and exterior pest inspection to find exactly where they’re getting in. Remember, you’re looking for any gaps the size of a dime or larger. Get a flashlight. Walk around your foundation; look under the foundation to see if the mice can get into your crawlspace. Walk around the roofline (get a ladder if needed). Check the dryer vent.

Pest experts say that mice also do a “walk-around” and are often triggered to gaps when they can smell nice warm air flowing out of your house and that’s another draw. Look at all vents and screens. Look for any signs of chewing at the bottom of garage doors. (And keep those garage doors shut!)

Then pack all those small gaps with steel wool. Do NOT use spray foam which rodents chew through. Larger gaps might need to be closed with 1/4-inch mesh. 

2. Remove Easy Food and Water Sources

Also, look for any food and water that mice could access. Open garbage bins? Spilled birdfeed?  Leaky hoses? Water bowls? Store all your grains, pet food, garbage, and birdfood in metal containers or heavy plastic boxes. Also, don’t leave pet food dishes full of kibble at night or you’re inviting any mouse in the house to dinner.

3. Remove Easy Hiding Places

As you do your walk around, look for easy hiding places such as firewood stacks, thick leaves or ground cover along the foundation, any clutter, or anything leaning against your house. You’ll need to do a big outdoor cleanup project and clear everything around your foundation by at least one foot.

4. Remove Nesting Material

Don’t leave old rugs, blankets, clothes, or any soft fluffy nesting material around your attic, basement, or garage. Store everything in containers made of metal or heavy plastic. Avoid cardboard and paper boxes which can also be chewed up. 

In the garden, avoid using straw as mulch or any fluffy mulch that provides nesting places. Do not mulch heavily nor put mulch near the base of trees.

Getting Rid of Mice 

We’re not a big fan of poison or traps. First, we’d prefer not to kill animals. But also it doesn’t really work long-term as more mice will just move in. The first step is to seal up those entry points and make sure you remove all the food, water, and nesting materials. Then, you will need to control the population already in your home:

  • If you must, use a humane mouse trap or snap trap baited with peanut butter near mouse paths.
  • Consider getting a cat! Some cats enjoy hunting more than others, but all can help to take care of mice in your home to various degrees. If you do get a feline helper, do not put out mouse poison, which can harm your kitty, too, even indirectly if your cat catches a mouse that has eaten it.

Natural Ways to Deter Mice

To discourage mice from entering your home and garden, here are some natural solutions:

  1. Try a mouse repellent containing ammonium; see your local garden center. For some reason, ammonia smells like predator urine. You can even make your own ammonia traps by putting small caps filled with the liquid near mouse entry points.
  2. Mice do not like any mint or pepper smells. Try sprinkling cayenne pepper near mouse-prone areas (or create a sachet). Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil. 
  3. Mice are also repelled by camphor, lavender, and wormwood. You can find dried lavender in health food stores and some garden centers. 
  4. If you do get a cat, sometimes, even just the scent of cats will be enough to deter mice from returning to an area. One reader says that sprinkling kitty litter around entrances to the house works well; after all, it smells like cat urine!
  5. Try using dryer sheets to keep mice out of linen closets or stored clothes.
  6. If you must, use a humane mouse trap or snap trap baited with peanut butter near mouse paths.
  7. Sonic mouse deterrents (which make beeping noises) may also be effective.
  8. In the garden, try planting some plants that are believed to repel mice, including mint, lavender, pennyroyal, garlic, and onion.
  9. To protect bulbs, cage them or surround the bulb with crushed gravel in the planting hole.
  10. Wrap tree trunks with tree wrap or hardware cloth at their base. Be sure to remove come spring to avoid harming the tree!

See more about common garden pests like rabbits and moles.

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprise that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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