8 Poison-Free Ways to Get Rid of Mice, Everyday Roots

8 Poison-Free Ways to Get Rid of Mice

Mice are cute little critters, but that doesn’t mean we want them sharing our homes with us. As adorable as their tiny whiskery faces are, the disease they spread via urine (which they communicate with, and therefore leave a lot of lying around) and feces-not to mention the extensive damage they can do when they put their teeth to something-is no joke. But a lot of us (myself included) don’t want to turn to traditional snap traps (have you ever seen one go wrong? It’s not pretty) or rodenticides that pose serious risk to children, pets, other wildlife, and the environment.

Being naturally nocturnal, voracious nibblers, and rapid reproducers (starting at the tender age of 6 weeks) how does one go about dealing with mice without turning to mainstream methods? Enter a fun little idea called integrated pest management (IPM.) It takes some more work, dedication, and thought than other methods, but you can manage without using toxic chemicals, which makes it far superior in my opinion. IPM involves pest proofing your home by sealing up any potential entrances, keeping food well sealed and securely locked away, knowing your pests habits, likes/dislikes, and eliminating any water sources.

Combine an IPM program with a few of these DIY deterrents and repellents, and you can come up with a successful comprehensive plan to get rid of mice naturally.

How Poison Works: Most rodenticides on the market today are anti-coagulants. They essentially inhibit the body’s ability to clot blood, which results in the mouse hemorrhaging and bleeding to death internally. Warfarin, brodifacoum, diefenacoum, and flocoumafen. While all of these are nasty and toxic, flocoumafen is so powerful that it is only legally certified for indoor use. In addition to prohibiting blood clotting, the poisons will make the mice extremely thirsty. They then leave the house in search of water and die. On top of all of this, and the risk you pose to pets and children, there is secondary poisoning to consider. Many poisons are toxic to animals that will eat the mice, such as birds of prey-or your dog or cat.

How Traps Work: Fairly self-explanatory, the two main traps on the market are sticky traps and snap traps. Snap traps are triggered when the mouse goes for the bait, and a powerful spring mechanism snaps a wire down, breaking the rodents neck. I have, unfortunately, been witness to several trap malfunctions-one particularly gruesome one involved the mouse pulling back so that its neck didn’t break, but its snout and the front part of its face was crushed and caught in the trap. It was very much alive afterwards. It may sound soft-hearted, but I can’t stand the sight of even a pest struggling and in pain.

Sticky traps are about as inhumane as they get. The mouse runs onto it, sticks, and is terrified while its struggles to escape. It will either die slowly of dehydration or starvation. The traps can rip off fur and skin while they struggle, and rodents have attempted to chew through their own limbs to get free.

1. Peppermint Essential Oil

Mice, while nowhere near as impressive as say, dogs, still have a fairly acute sense of smell that beats our own. So while we find the smell of peppermint refreshing, tangy, and pleasant, mice find it overwhelming and offensive. This isn’t the best remedy to deter mice, but it makes a nice compliment to a solid IPM program.

You will need…
-cotton balls
-peppermint essential oil

Add 20-30 drops of peppermint essential oil to each cotton ball and lay strategically around your home. Refresh every week or so, or whenever you notice the smell is fading. Feel free to experiment with other essential oils/oil blends in addition to peppermint.

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2. Let Nature Do Its Thing

While dogs, bless their loyal hearts, are man’s best friend and useful in countless ways, they are much farther removed from their ancestors in terms of behavior than cats are. There are breeds of dogs that hunt happily, of course, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a cat that doesn’t have a refined “killer instinct” so to speak. When you want to naturally get rid of mice, a cat is your best friend. If you have a pest problem, and you have the means to have a cat, go for it! Just remember, the cat will also be a part of the family-not just something you use for a mouse problem. And there’s always the possibility you end up with one that isn’t a good mouser, in which case, you’ve just gained another wonderful member of the family. ☺

You will need…
-A cat

Go to your local animal shelter and get a furry friend.

3. Mouse Deterrent Spray

This is a special little concoction that that doesn’t involve manufactured chemicals or toxins-although I would recommend wearing goggles and gloves when you apply it! This is a spray made entirely from hot peppers. While we might like a little heat to our food, think about when you get hit with something too spicy. Your eyes start to burn, you’re in pain, and if the scoville units get high enough (the unit used to measure the heat of hot peppers) you can even kick the bucket.

Now imagine you’re a mouse, just a few inches off the floor, snuffling around and minding your own business (kind of) when you stumble across a patch of burning hot “pepper spray.” With your eyes and nose so close to the ground, you’ll be extremely uncomfortable and irritated and not exactly excited to continue on with your journey. You’ll probably turn back to find another, less spicy, place to invade.

This spray uses habanero peppers, which have a scoville rating of 100,000-350,000 units, and cayenne peppers, which rate at 30,000-50,000 units. Compare this to the 1,000-4,000 units of a jalapeno, and it’s easy to see why this is so repugnant to rodents.

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You will need…
-1/2 cup chopped habaneros
-2 tablespoons hot pepper flakes
-16 cups (1 gallon) of fresh water
-Two 2 gallon buckets
-A gallon jug and a spray bottle
-A large pot

Wear gloves and goggles when making and applying this powerful mixture. A surgical mask isn’t a bad idea either, as it can cause some respiratory irritation in some individuals.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Put peppers and flakes in a food processor and blend until they are a little more roughly chopped up. You can do this by hand, but I find it less irritating to the eyes to use the food processor. Put the pepper blend into a 2 gallon bucket, and then pour the boiling water over them. Cover the mixture and allow it to sit for 24 hours. Using cheesecloth, strain out the pepper bits by pouring the mixture into another 2 gallon bucket. Fill your spray bottle and spritz around entrances and affected areas. A little goes a long way! Don’t use this on carpets as it may discolor the surface. I like to apply around the outside perimeter of my house, but if you want to apply it indoors, after a day or two wipe the old spray up with some water and reapply. Always test a small area first to make sure it doesn’t affect the color.

The mixture, covered, keeps for months out of direct sunlight, so simply refill your bottle when needed.

4. Dryer Sheets

While I point blank refuse to use dryer sheets in the dryer, I do find myself turning to them at times to help with mice. It’s the lesser of two evils when it comes to poison. I actually learned of this little trick at the barn where I keep my horses. Since my barn cat happens to be incredibly lazy, I learned from another horsey friend that mice hate the smell of dryer sheets. Sure enough, after placing 1-2 in my tack locker, I was no longer finding mouse droppings or (on really bad days) mice that had decided to crawl into my stuff to die.

You will need…
-Regular old dryer sheets

Lay out around problem areas. Refresh when the scent is extremely faded/gone (usually once a month or so.) It’s a good idea to weight down the corners of the sheets. On the offhand chance you forget to replace them, they can be used as nesting material for the mice once the odor wears off. They can also be moved quite easily. I personally like to use them to help plug up any entrances I find that the mice are breaking into.

5. Bring Out the Copper

Exclusion is a huge part of solving a mouse problem. High quality steel wool is a popular item used to block entrances that mice use to get in and out of your house, and it can work quite well. However, you usually need to use a caulking compound to ensure the mice don’t pull the steel wool out of the hole, and the steel will degrade and rust over time. Copper wool, or copper wire mesh, on the other hand, won’t rust or degrade, and is woven finely to make it that much harder to chew through or pull out. If you have a deep crack, you can tightly stuff several layers of the copper into it which is usually sufficient to hold it in. If you have a shallower space you need to fill, or particularly stubborn mice that find a way to yank it out, you may want to look at a chemical/toxin free caulk or sealant. I won’t go into detail on those products right now since that has enough information to be a post unto itself!

You will need…
-1 roll of copper wire mesh/copper steel

Roll up the copper into thin wads and stuff firmly into cracks/holes/any entrances being used by the mice. Use a stick to really jam it in there, and use as many layers as you can without making it loose or sloppy. After installing, you can also spray with a little bit of hot pepper spray for extra deterrent.

6. Trap ‘Em

I will be the first to point out that this is not the route you want to take if you have a serious infestation. If you have a couple of mice, however, that you want to keep from setting up a permanent residence, humane traps are good way to relocate them. There are several types of traps out there that have multiple chambers, so you aren’t stuck catching one mouse at a time. Humane traps are a good way to improve your situation without dealing with the guilt and disgust that often times comes with regular traps.

You will need…
-A humane trap

Follow the Directions on the back of the trap, as each one is different. Some ensure humans to avoid contact with the mice by means of a bait trigger. For example, a cracker is set in a holder in the cage. You put said cage far away, and when the mouse chews through the cracker, the door opens. You can then collect the now empty cage.

7. Cloves

Cloves elicit memories of warm holidays and cozy nights by the fire for us, but for some mice, they find the smell distasteful and overwhelming. It seems slightly counterintuitive that a smell that reminds us of holiday baking would be so unappealing to a mouse, but the strong essential oil in cloves encourages is irritating to them. You can use whole cloves, or clove essential oil on cotton balls. I prefer the essential oil as it is more powerful than the latter.

You will need…
-Clove essential oil OR whole cloves
-Cotton balls

Apply in the same way as the peppermint oil. Put 20-30 drops onto a cotton ball and place strategically around the house. Be sure you don’t have any pets wandering around that would gulp it down. If you’re using whole cloves, wrap them in an old piece of cotton t shirt and use in place of the cotton balls.

8. Aluminum Foil

My family laughed when my Dad laid out aluminum foil one particularly mouse infested year up at the cabin. He covered the entire countertop with the stuff-cereal boxes, granola bars, everything. It looked, quite frankly, ridiculous. But lo and behold, the next morning, not a thing had been touched. No mouse had crept over the foil. It was probably a combination of the smell, and the slippery and noisy surface (the phrase “quiet as a mouse” didn’t come from nowhere!)

If you know where the mice are breaking in, wad up some foil and firmly jam it in the hole. Have you ever bitten a piece of aluminum foil? It gives me goose bumps just thinking about the sensation. I don’t know if mice don’t like the taste or feel, or if it just strikes them as too unnatural to penetrate, but I’ve had great success with this simple way to keep the mice at bay. This is a good first step to try before moving up to the copper wire solution above.

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You will need…
-Aluminum foil

Cover the surface where you’re finding mouse droppings with the foil. Of course you can’t cover your whole house, but if you’re finding them on the countertops, for example, cover those with the foil. Lay the foil at night right before bedtime, and fold up in the morning. You can re-use it, but I recommend against it, on the off-hand chance that a mouse did track its little mitts all over it!

Karma Is a Mouse With Poison

One year was staying up at somebody’s cabin and they were dealing with a mouse problem. They chose to use poison to get rid of the critters, and had laid out several trays of the stuff. For this particular trip, my sister had gotten an extremely fancy pair of new hiking boots that she had been dying to try out on the trails up there. The morning after the poison had been laid, I woke up to my sister yelling in dismay and upon Running downstairs, I discovered her fuming over her new boots-each of which had been filled with little piles of poison. None of the other pairs of shoes were affected-only her cherished new boots.

A few mornings later, after we’d gone blueberry picking, I woke up early to make my blueberry muffins that (not to toot my horn or anything) everyone had been looking forward to. I pull out the muffin tins and lo and behold, the mice had stashed poison in the little cups.

The moral of the story is…karma is a mouse with poison

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By Claire Goodall

Claire is a lover of life, the natural world, and wild blueberries. On the weekend you can find her fiddling in the garden, playing with her dogs, and enjoying the great outdoors with her horse. Claire is very open-minded, ask her anything Meet Claire


How to Get Rid of Rats and Mice in The Garden

People usually talk about pest problems when the pesky little critters invade houses and flats. But the truth is, they don’t just decide one fateful day to come and say hello. Like every other living creature, they just go where the food is.

Who is this post for:

  • Hobby gardeners;
  • People that have gardens in their property.

Signs of garden rodents infestation

It’s impossible not to notice when something is amiss. The best way to be sure you have a rodent problem is if you look for the following signs.

  • Unidentified mounds and burrows appear all of a sudden. Mounds and burrows are a sure sign you have a rodent infestation. Rats and mice like to make their home close to their food and water sources. Often, a burrow can be found under a garden shed.
  • Tunnels in the soil under the garden. Mice, rats, moles and other rodents dig tunnels underground. The tunnels are connected and have small mouse holes for entrances. Even after the infestation is taken care of, it’s advisable to block the entrances and make the tunnels less hospitable. This way, they won’t attract another wave of rodents to hide inside.
  • Plants disappear fast. If you have a tunnel system under your garden, then, the pests are surely gnawing on the roots of your plants from below. They’re often pulling them down altogether, resulting in their disappearance. Other pests would eat your plants from above, and even if they pick them, there would be a root left behind. If there is none, you have a rodent problem.
  • Rodent droppings all over. If you notice black grains of rice scattered around, be sure that it’s not rice, it’s rodent droppings. This is a definite sign of rats and mice in the garden. If the pieces are bigger and olive-shaped, then, you have a rat problem.
  • You see them. There is no better proof that you have a problem than actually seeing the problem. Rodents are careful about exposing themselves, but if you wait until around dusk or dawn, it’s very likely that you’ll see them coming out. If you spot only one, you can be certain there are a lot more.

What are the most common mice in the garden?

In Britain, the most likely culprit behind a mouse infestation is the wood mouse. It’s no bigger than 10 cm, with a tail, which can be as long as 11 cm. It has huge ears, pointed face and dark brown coat.

Another example is the yellow-necked mouse, which is slightly bigger and has a longer tail. It’s easily identifiable by the yellow band across its chest. In the south of England the wood mouse’s larger cousin, the yellow-necked mouse, sometimes comes into people’s gardens.

There is also the classic house mouse that invades both gardens and properties. It’s the same size as the wood mouse, but with a grey coat. Because they look alike we have created a guide on how to tell house mice from filed mice. Both species can be found all over the UK, while their yellow-necked cousin is more often found in the southern regions. Neither is protected as a species.

Where do they hide?

  • Bird feeders. The garden is not the only source of food – if there is a bird feeder nearby, the rodents might be attracted to the bird feed that usually drops on the ground. Often, burrows are placed near the place where the seeds would fall.
  • Rubbish bins. Your green outdoor rubbish bin, where you throw away your food scraps, is an easy target for the pests, if not secured properly. To avoid attracting wildlife, you can opt for a bin with a lock on the lid.
  • Compost piles. Compost piles, when managed improperly, turn into a dining table for rats, mice, and just about anything that can grow hungry. This should also be the first place to look if you are suspicious of having an infestation.
  • Garden sheds. Sheds are a very comfortable place for rodents to hide – they’re protected from the elements, there are usually piles of stuff to hide in, and if there is a water source inside or nearby, the rodents will turn your shed into their home.
  • Wood piles. Outdoor wood piles are another very comfy place for rats and mice to make their nests.
  • The walls of your property. If there are cracks and holes in the outer structure of your property, be sure that the rodents will find them. If the walls offer good enough accommodation (and honestly rodents don’t need much), your house will eventually hint at the pests’ presence with a particular smell.

Visit the main website for price rates on our professional rat exterminators!

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What damage do mice and rats cause to plants and garden structures?

Rodents, whether rats or mice, can cause serious damage to your garden. Not only do they feast on the results of your hard work, after spending time planting and growing your produce, but they can also gnaw on wooden structures, like your garden shed, or the very walls of your property.

Another damaging problem you should not underestimate is when they chew on electrical cables. This can cause a short circuit and even lead to a fire.

There is also a health risk. Rodents often carry diseases, including Salmonella, Leptospirosis, Weil’s disease, Listeria, Cryptosporidium and rat bite fever. All of them are harmful to humans and pets. They can also carry ticks, mites and fleas and thus, can cause a whole new infestation.

And let’s not forget that once upon a time they caused the Plague.

Infections can be triggered by direct contact with their urine, faeces, or saliva. Rarely, but still possible, one can get sick through their bites and scratches. Coming in direct contact with a dead mouse or rat carcass is also a possible scenario for getting infected. There have been cases where pets have transmitted a rodent-related disease to humans. Sometimes, even inhaling dust particles that contain infectious microorganisms is enough.

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How to get rid of mice in the garden

Once you’ve noticed the infestation, it’s time to make the invaders go away. There are a few widely known successful methods.

  • Evict them from the burrows with water. Water is the best eviction mechanism. Use a garden hose to flood their burrows. They might come back later once the water gets absorbed by the soil, but if you do it again and again, eventually they won’t come back again.
  • Install ultrasonic devices. This technological wonder is a device that emits ultrasonic frequencies that only rodents can hear. The sound is extremely irritating to them and forces them to run away from the area. It’s also very successful in keeping new rodents from coming closer.
  • Use rodent poison. This one is not recommended, as poison can cause more trouble than it’s worth. If you have pets and small children, you’re immediately putting them in danger. But even when you take all the measures so that no one gets poisoned, the toxic substance can easily contaminate the soil. Consult with a professional pest controller on the matter, or let them handle the situation altogether.

Opt for manual traps

If you don’t like any of the mentioned techniques above, there are always convenience stores where you can find manual mice traps. They differ in type and design.

  • Snap traps. These are manual traps that kill the rodent on contact. They work once and you’ll have to dispose of the dead rodent yourself, before placing the trap again.
  • Electrocution traps. It’s a container with a metal plate that electrocutes any invader. They are a more expensive option, and also have to be emptied from the dead animals.
  • Live capture traps. A more humane way is to trap the animal in a small cage and release it in the wild.

Precautions when handling traps

Any professional pest controller would advise that you do not dispose of rodents manually and/or without protective gear, whether they are dead or alive. A bite can put you in danger of contracting an array of diseases, and getting in direct contact with a carcass is even worse. Simply inhaling the dust around it can cause respiratory problems.

But if you are doing it anyway, make sure you use protective clothing, such as rubber gloves and a dust mask. If you want to dispose of a dead animal, bury it away from your house in a deep hole in the ground, so it doesn’t get dug up by neighbourhood pets. And always check any relevant national and local regulations.

Visit the main website for price rates on our professional mice exterminators!

How to prevent mice infestations

Once you’ve identified the likely suspect, it’s time to take action. Here are several steps you can take to keep rodents out of the garden:

    Remove their food and shelter

Empty the rubbish bin as often as you can. Take the bird feeders down and don’t leave cat or dog food outside. If there is no food, they have no reason to come. The same applies when it comes to their shelter. Keep the grass short, don’t pile up plant matter, and periodically move woodpiles.

Improve the structure of your property

Your house or your garden shed is a good shelter for rodents, especially in the winter. Call a professional to inspect the outer structure of your property, at least once a year. If there are cracks or holes, they should be sealed.

Let cats roam the garden

The best thing to keep mice away is to show them that their most hated predator has claimed the garden for themselves. Just make sure you don’t have catnip planted in the garden, as it can cause a whole new array of problems.

Plant natural repellents

This should be an addition to your preventative measures. There are certain plants that keep mice and other rodents away. You can plant mint, pennyroyal, garlic, lavender, wormwood and onion between your flower plants, veggies and fruit shrubs.

Mesh tubes

Place plastic mesh tubes around tender seedlings to prevent mice and rats from eating them.

Mice and other rodents are a problem for every home and garden owner. If you spot one, you can be certain there are going to be a lot more, since they breed at a very fast rate. And even if they are mostly seen in the garden, you can be sure your house will be their target as well, especially if winter is coming.

That’s why it’s always advisable to ask for advice and help by professional domestic mouse control every time you notice the signs of an infestation.

Do you have any personal experience, dealing with rodents in your garden? Please, share what worked in your case in the comments below.

Image source: shutterstock / Timchenko Natalia

    Last update: January 31, 2020

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