How To Get Rid of Rodents In Garden
- 1 Garden rodents
- 2 Signs of rodents in the garden
- 3 Damage caused by rodents in the garden
- 4 Rodent-borne diseases
- 5 How to keep rodents out of a garden
- 6 How to prevent rodents from entering your garden
- 7 Safety
- 8 Rodent Traps
- 9 Ultrasound repellents
- 10 Professional rodent control
- 11 How to Get Rid of Voles and Keep Them Away from Your Property
- 12 What Do Voles Look Like?
- 13 Signs of Vole Damage
- 14 How to Deter Voles From Your Garden
- 15 Get Rid of Voles
- 16 Learning How to Deter Voles
- 17 Rat Proof Garden: How To Get Rid Of Rodents In Garden Spaces
Gardens can provide a safe harbor for several types of rodent, giving shelter and readily-available food sources both growing around the garden and stored in sheds. They are unwanted in the garden because of the damage they can cause to fruit, vegetables, seeds, bulbs, plants and containers, and also because they expose people and pets to various diseases and parasites.
The only rat species you are likely to find in your garden is the brown or Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus). The black rat is now rare and is mostly found near ports.
There are several mouse and vole species native throughout North America, and a small number of these can take advantage of food and lodging opportunities provided in gardens. However, their numbers are rarely high enough to cause much damage in the garden.
The house mouse (Mus musculus), field vole or short-tailed vole (Microtus agrestis), and deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus). These are the species most likely to be seen in gardens.
In America, wild populations of the house mouse and field vole can periodically explode to plague proportions in rural areas after mild winters when they have little die-off.
These rural species are normally found in specific habitats:
- house mouse: wooded areas, fields, croplands, yards ;
- deer mouse: old fence posts, tree hallows, log piles ;
- field vole: rough grassland;
Signs of rodents in the garden
Look for nesting areas under trash, timber, in drain pipes, under and in sheds. Rodents have a characteristic smell when in large numbers and you may also hear their activity. They are usually nocturnal feeders, so you will not normally see them in the daytime. If you do see them it usually means they are short of food and getting desperate.
- Holes or burrows: burrows are 2 inches diameter and can be located anywhere that is relatively undisturbed and near to food.
- Runs and tracks: runs are typically 2-4 inches wide near cover along walls, banks and hedges and through vegetation. Rats memorize pathways and use the same routes to and from their shelter. Smear marks may be visible where they run along stone, wood or metal, such as on steps, fencing and gate posts. They tend to travel along the ground, but they can climb and jump to get to food and shelter.
- Droppings: these are a half inch long, cylindrical, flat at one end and often pointed at the other. They are moist when fresh, but dry within hours.
- Damage: rats and mice will gnaw at food, packaging and barriers in their way, making holes or enlarging existing ones. They also gnaw objects when investigating them. Their teeth are hard enough to get through many hard materials such as wood, rubber, vinyl and low grade concrete and cement. Outdoors this can be fencing panels, sheds where food is stored, compost bins and electrical wiring in sheds, such as on power tools.
Mice and voles
- They construct a system of tunnels to live in, which can have several chambers and exits. Voles can make a system of shallow tunnels that give a soft and uneven surface to lawns and soils.
- Small gnaw marks can be seen on fruits such as growing strawberries and stored apples and seeds. Small fruit, such as berries may be left scattered on the ground under the plants.
- Torn paper in garden sheds shows mice are gathering nesting material.
Damage caused by rodents in the garden
Rodents can cause a range of damage in your garden which can range anywhere from feasting on fruits and vegetables to gnawing on shed doors and wires. The types of damage caused vary depending on the species of rodent.
Rats in the garden
- Rats eat a wide range of garden vegetables, including sweet corn cobs, pumpkins and squash and various root vegetables, such as carrot, parsnip, beet root and potato tubers. They will eat the crops while they are growing and in storage. They also eat fruits in storage such as apples, and seeds.
- Rats will also eat feed put out for wild birds, poultry and pets, so feed needs to be placed on bird tables or in hanging feeders, not on the ground.
- Damaged containers and packaging materials in which foods, animal feed and seeds are stored can attract rats.
- Rats can cause structural damage to buildings by burrowing and gnawing, undermining building foundations, paving in patios and paths, causing settling, and damage earth banks.
- Rats will gnaw on electrical wires or water pipes, above or below ground.
- Rats are opportunistic, so once they are in your garden they will seek new places to live, feed and breed, such as in your house, so it is important to control them as soon as possible. You may only see one or two, but there will be many more that you don’t see! They can damage buildings further by gnawing openings through doors, window sills, walls, ceilings, and floors.
Mice and voles in the garden
Mice and voles feed on a wide range of plants, but do little other damage in the garden:
- Eat recently sown vegetable seeds such as peas, beans and sweet corn and the foliage of seedlings.
- Eat bulbs and corms, especially recently sown ones. Tell-tale signs are holes in the soil where they have dug down to feed on them.
- Eat fruits such as strawberries, even before they are ripe and berries.
- Eat stored fruit such as apples.
- Voles can eat the bark of woody plants, especially in winter.
- Voles make a network of shallow tunnels which can give lawns an uneven surface.
Rats, mice and voles can carry a wide range of diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, protozoa and helminths (worms), including Salmonella, Leptospirosis, Weil’s disease, Listeria, Cryptosporidium and rat bite fever. They can infect both humans and pets. They can also carry ectoparasites such as ticks, mites, fleas and lice that carry another set of diseases, and can pass them on to humans and pets.
During the 2011 vole plague in Spain it was reported that 20 people caught the highly infectious bacterial disease Tularemia after coming into contact with the voles — a tiny amount of bacteria can cause this disease but it is not passed from person to person.
In the garden, contamination may not be as obvious as in the home, but there are several means of disease transmission, which include:
- direct contact with excreta (urine, feces, saliva) or inhalation of dust particles;
- handling or inhaling dust particles containing infectious microorganisms aerosolized when disturbing compost heaps, woodpiles, or other material contaminated with dried rodent urine;
- handling of infected rodents, alive or dead;
- scratches or bites from rodents;
- dogs, cats and foxes eating rodents and then catching parasites that can be passed on to humans.
How to keep rodents out of a garden
There are a large number of rodent control products available for the home user, all of which need a degree of skill and care to use effectively and safely. It is illegal in many countries to use products that are not designed for the ‘target’ animal or to use methods that are considered inhumane or unsafe for other people, pets, wild animals and the environment. You should read the description and instructions on product packaging carefully.
House mice, field mice and voles rarely build up large enough populations in gardens to become serious pests, so it may not be necessary to kill them.
How to prevent rodents from entering your garden
Rats, mice and voles need food to live on and a place to live in; therefore you can take steps to prevent them having both and reduce the chance of them invading your garden.
- Eliminate any harborage points around buildings and sheds. Seal any small gaps that allow them access. Rats need only a gap height of around half of an inch to gain entry and mice a quarter of an inch, though normally mice access holes are three quarters of an inch in diameter.
- Remove potential nesting places by keeping gardens clean and tidy. Remove piles of wood, garden clippings etc, and cut back overgrown areas.
- Cover any household food waste such as in compost heaps and garbage bins. Make sure lids are closed and garbage bags containing food are not left outside for long periods.
- Do not scatter bird feed on the ground: use a bird table or feeder basket to feed birds.
When choosing to take control measures in the home, safety is a high priority:
- All methods need care to ensure that non-target wildlife, children, other family members, pets and other people are not harmed by product use and storage.
- Appropriate protective clothing (e.g. rubber gloves, dust mask) should always be used when handling contaminated material, droppings, poison, dead or live animals, or traps contaminated with animal fluids or parts, to prevent spread of disease.
- Dead animals need to be disposed of safely by burying them deeply in the ground (to prevent them being dug up by pets or wild animals) or by placing in a sealed plastic bag and then in waste disposal. You should always check your own national and local regulations.
Rats and mice take time to get used to anything new in their environment and may avoid measures taken to control them for a while, so you may need to be patient for measures to take effect.
- Spring/snap traps: These traps are designed to kill rodents instantly with a spring release mechanism, triggered when the rodent steps on it or takes some food bait. They need to be used with some skill to position them and avoid affecting other wildlife, pets and children, especially when used outdoors.
- Electrocution traps: These discharge a high voltage shock when an animal walks on metal plates inside the containment box. They are expensive and not all can be used outdoors. They also need to be checked frequently to check for and dispose of any dead animals.
- Live capture traps: Usually a small cage with a trigger mechanism to shut the animal in when it pulls on some bait. These also need to be checked frequently to release any non-target animals caught. In some countries it is illegal to relocate and release rodent pests; therefore they must be dispatched humanely.
Ultrasound devices emit sound at frequencies beyond the range of human hearing, but audible to rats and mice. Therefore it is claimed that high volume ultrasound can repel them without affecting humans. Ultrasound, however, dissipates quickly with distance and is blocked by objects, creating shadows.
As with any unfamiliar sound or object, rats and mice are easily frightened and may show an aversion at first, but then become used to it. Ultrasound devices will not get rid of a rodent infestation and there is limited scientific evidence that they work as repellents, but some users give the devices favorable reviews.
Professional rodent control
The safe and secure option is to call a professional, who will have the right training and the best equipment to assess and deal with your infestation.
House Mouse, Habits, NPMA Field Guide to Structural Pests. page 11.10.3
Deer Mouse, Habits, NPMA Field Guide to Structural Pests. page 11.9.2
Royal Horticultural Society, Advice pages (link).
Ronert M Timm. Norway rats. The Handbook: Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage. Paper 5. University of Nebraska — Lincoln (link).
European Biocidal Products Forum. Sustainable use of rodenticides as biocides in the EU. Cefic — EBPF, Brussels.
Rats. Integrated Pest Management Program, University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (link).
The Independent. Farmers protest after plague of voles destroys crops in Spain (link).
The Times. Ja-vole: German farms suffer plague of rodents (link).
How to Get Rid of Voles and Keep Them Away from Your Property
Bethany is a suburban homesteader who grows over 30 types of vegetables in her garden every year to provide the vegetables needed to feed her family of six for the entire year. She practices organic gardening without the use of any pesticide and chemical.
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Voles are small little mammals that spend part of their lives underneath the ground, which makes them hard to detect. Even though these little critters only grow to be 5-7 inches long, they can cause massive destruction to your yard and garden, so figuring out how to deter voles is paramount.
Voles are one of those challenging issues that gardeners and homeowners might encounter, along with moles, shrews, and mice. It can be tricky to identify voles from mice; they look similar. In fact, some people refer to voles as field mice or meadow mice.
However, if you find that you have critters on your property, you need to be able to distinguish the difference between voles and real mice, because what works for mice might not work for voles.
What Do Voles Look Like?
Voles are little creatures with short tails and small snouts. They have a stocky body that is rounded and shaped sort of like a potato. Voles have short hair that is typically a color between brown and black with a darker belly.
Similar to other rodents, voles have small feet and short claws. They also have sharp teeth that let them chew on vegetation and bark.
If you get a good look at this critter, take a look at its ears. Voles have small, rounded ears that can easily be hidden by their fur, along with smaller eyes. Typically, you’ll find vole tunnels right near the surface of the yard.
Voles or Mice?
They are about the same size and have the same color of fur, but it is possible to tell the difference between a vole and a mouse. A vole has a shorter tail and larger eyes than a mouse. It also has a shorter tail and smaller ears.
If you see a critter running around in your house, it’s more likely to be a mouse. Voles eat plant life, so they tend to stick outside, while mice will eat anything, so they don’t mind hanging out inside your house where there’s plenty of food.
Voles or Moles?
So you see a tunnel in your garden and you’re not sure what sort of animal is making it. Despite the rhyming names, moles and voles are not the same, but it’s easy to confuse the two, since both of these animals dig tunnels throughout your yard. It might be hard to sneak a peek at them since they both spend time underground.
Once you get a good look at your creature in question, telling voles and moles apart is easy. Voles are stocky, small rodents that look similar to field mice. At first glance, you might think that you have field mice instead of voles. Moles have tiny eyes and ears, a long nose, and big front feet. Don’t forget that voles have a mainly vegetarian diet while moles eat insects and worms.
If you don’t get a look at the critter but just see tunnels in your yard, how do you know what you’re dealing with? Mole tunnels are usually over 2-inches wide, while vole tunnels are 1-2 inches in diameter. Mole entrance holes are usually covered with a large pile of dirt, while vole tunnels aren’t.
Signs of Vole Damage
You have to pinpoint the location of your voles to be most effective with your repellent methods. The best way to find these pesky creatures is by looking for signs of vole damage.
Common signs of vole damage include:
- Surface Signs: Look for irregular paths of clipped and trampled grass or soil. The track will be 1-2 inches wide.
- Burrow Entrances: You’ll find clean entrances, round holes that are 1.5 inches in diameter. Typically, these entrances are in line with the surface runways.
- Delayed or Halted Fruit Production: If you notice that your fruit trees have a delay in fruit production or the production stops entirely, it might mean that voles led to root damage caused by girdling.
- Girdled Bark and Stems: You’ll find irregular gnaw marks that are 1/8-inch wide and 3/8-inch long. These marks appear at the bottom of the tree.
How to Deter Voles From Your Garden
It’s usually easier to deter voles than to try and get rid of an infestation. Here are some methods to try.
Make Your Yard Unfriendly to Voles
The first step if you want to deter voles is to try to make your yard and garden so inhospitable that they have no desire to spend time there. Here are some tips:
- Cut back any brush, keep weeds at bay, and mow frequently. Voles like dense, heavy vegetative because it provides these creatures from predators.
- Make sure that you remove woodpiles and any hiding places that voles might like near your garden and trees.
- Cut your lawn frequently and trim bushes regularly. You don’t want to give voles any places to hide.
- Keep snow away from the base of trees and shrubs, and make sure you protect young trees by wrapping the lower trunk with a guard. Voles love to take a nibble on tender trees.
Try a Repellent
Repellents don’t always have the best results and have to reapply them often, especially after it rains. You can purchase fox or coyote urine, which are two of the top predators of voles. Using this type of urine tends to send voles running the other way.
Castor-oil based repellents work well and penetrate the ground. They give vegetation a strange odor and taste that voles don’t find attractive at all. Castor oil is a preferred choice because it’s all-natural and biodegradable.
There are two different application options:
You can buy a liquid that is a concentrated castor oil solution that mixes with the water from your hose. It works well if the vole is causing issues in your lawn and garden.
The other choice is to try castor-oil infused granules. You can spread them across the affected ground. Make sure to activate the granules with water!
Lots of people swear by sonic repellents. These little stakes are solar-powered and you can place them all around the yard. They vibrate and send out sonic pulses that drive away rodents.
Add Gravel in Planting Holes
If you want to try to stop the destruction of bulbs and discourage voles from eating the bulbs under the ground, add some gravel into the planting holes that surround the bulbs. It helps to deter voles from taking a bite.
Protect Young Trees
Young trees are a real treat for voles, but you can deter voles from taking a nibble by encircling the tree with a light-colored tree guard that is mesh. The guard needs to be tall enough to reach above the snow line in the winter. You do need to bury the base of the tree guard in the soil or have a ridge around the base.
At the same time, the guard must be loose enough that doesn’t constrict the tree as it grows.
Get an Outdoor Cat
One of the best ways to deter voles and other critters from your property is by getting an outdoor cat or two. Cats are a natural predator for voles, and the rodents stay clear of any property that has cats nearby. You also can try a dog, but not all dogs find searching for voles an exciting pastime.
Fence Around Your Vegetable Garden
If voles are finding your vegetable garden to be a 24/7 buffet, then you need to stop them in their tracks. Voles are not good climbers, so fences are a good solution. However, traditional fencing won’t work.
You need to bury the fence 6-10 inches deep first. That stops the voles from tunneling into your garden. Then, make sure that the fence is at least 12 inches above the ground. This is far from your typical fence, and it might look a bit strange, but it works effectively to protect against voles.
Get Rid of Voles
If all your efforts at trying to deter voles fails, it’s time to figure out how to get rid of them.
If you only have a small area to handle, you might try trapping as a way to reduce the vole population on your property. You can purchase live vole traps and situate them perpendicular to the broadest vole tunnel or near their favorite nesting sites.
Place traps at the base of trees and shrubs. Try setting baits in the midday to early evening because that’s the time when voles get more active. Try baiting the traps with peanut butter. You can reset the traps as often as you like until the vole population is gone.
The key to making this work is persistence. You might have to cover the traps so that they won’t harm your children and pets.
Sprinkle Irritants into Vole Tunnels
One simple way to deter voles is to find their tunnels and sprinkle irritants into them. Mix an irritant with water or soapy water and add it to a spray bottle. You’ll need to reapply frequently, whenever it rains.
Some deterrents that might work include:
- Cayenne Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Castor Oil
- Nitrogen Fertilizer
- Moth Balls
Learning How to Deter Voles
No one wants to deal with destructive pests in the garden. Voles, in particular, can cause damage and wreak havoc throughout your garden and yard, so don’t ignore the problem. Instead, try one or more of these methods for deterring and getting rid of voles. Then, let us know which strategy works best for you.
Rat Proof Garden: How To Get Rid Of Rodents In Garden Spaces
Your garden is your pride and joy, and you put a lot of time and effort into making it flourish. So you’re going to want a rat proof garden.
As a gardener, rodents are one of your biggest nightmares. They eat your crops, leave droppings everywhere, spread disease, and hide in the most inconspicuous places. Not only that, but they multiply insanely fast.
In fact, a rodent only has a three-week gestation period. It can birth up to 14 babies per litter, and a female can have up to 10 separate litters each year. And that’s just one rodent. So if you notice any rodents in your garden, you are going to want to act swiftly to eliminate them.
You can’t use a pest control option that will harm your plants, and you don’t want to use one that will harm the environment. And if you’re a pet owner, you want something safe around your animals.
Likely, you’ll be asking how to keep mice out of garden beds by now! Luckily, there are many natural ways to both kill and deter rodents so that you can keep your crops and flowers growing beautifully all season long.
Garden rodents might be cute, but they’re a big problem. Source: me’nthedogs
Skip The Mulch
Yes, mulching is amazing for adding organic nutrients to the soil and for weed control, but it can be bad if rodents are an issue. It seems to just draw them in, begging them to make a nest and get comfortable.
If you must mulch, opt for the wood-chip variety since they shouldn’t be able to bury themselves underneath it.
Get A Cat
Cats love to hunt mice; that’s not a secret. If you want to get rid of mice without having to lift a finger, get an outdoor cat to take care of them!
The great thing about cats is that they can fend for themselves. As long as you make sure the cat has food, water, and shelter available (and that it’s spayed or neutered), then you’re set.
The smell of mint is a natural deterrent for rodents. This makes it a great addition to any garden. Keep a few pots around the perimeter of your garden and inside the greenhouse.
If you don’t want another plant to tend to, you can also scatter dried mint around the openings of the greenhouse. Alternately, soak some cotton balls in peppermint oil and let them do the job. Just make sure to replace them every couple of weeks.
Put Up Solar-Powered Repellers
By using ultrasonic frequencies, these little gadgets utilize sound and vibrations to scare rodents and keep them away. Since they’re solar powered, they are still environmentally friendly, and they should keep the rodents at bay.
One unit covers about 6,000 square feet, so you may need a few of them depending on how large your garden is. As the frequencies are geared towards rodents specifically, the sounds will not be noticeable by you, your children, or your pets.
Create A Border Of Herbs
In addition to mint, most rats and mice are put off by strong herbal scents, such as basil, echinacea, garlic, and thyme. To keep away the rodents, plant a border of these herbs around the outside of your garden. Once the rodents smell them, they will think your garden has nothing to offer and they’ll turn away.
Mice can become a major problem. Source: epicnom
Use Humane Mouse Traps
The traditional snap traps work, but they are not always effective, and when they are, it is not a pretty sight. There are several mouse traps out there that use other methods, like the Nooski mouse trap (not an affiliate, just a good product).
When the mouse is lured into the trap by the bait, a latex ring is sprung around the rodent’s neck to suffocate it. This type of trap makes cleaning the mice up easier, and it has a very high success rate.
Store Pet Food Securely
Another huge attraction for mice and rats is pet food and chicken feed. Make sure you place these edible attractions where rodents cannot access them easily, and limit how much you put out at a time.
It’s a good idea to use an airtight storage container like a Vittles Vault to store your pet food. Not only does it keep the food fresh, but it locks all the food aromas inside.
Build A Sturdy Fence
If you don’t have a fence already, build one. If you do have a fence around your garden, then you need to make it more secure. Often, rodents will crawl under the garden gate, so pay extra attention to this area and reinforce it.
Rodents also burrow under fences. You can stop them with some 1/4″ grid hardware cloth. Dig a trench along your fence, going 6″ down and about 6″ out from the fence. Staple the hardware cloth to the base of your fence. Then, bring it down below the soil surface and cover it. This creates an underground barrier.
Sprinkle Instant Potatoes
Instant potatoes are cheap, and they are surprisingly effective at eliminating rodents. Simply sprinkle a few tablespoons of the powder wherever you suspect a mouse infestation. The mice will eat them (obviously), and after they do, the flakes will expand in their stomachs.
Since their stomachs are so small, the mice won’t stand a chance, and they will die before the potatoes can be digested. However, if you have other pets, be careful that they don’t eat your potato flakes!
Squirrels can also become a problem, especially if you have fruiting plants. Source: holdit
Place Onions Around The Garden
Onions are pungent, and rodents hate them, and you don’t even have to grow them for this trick to work. All you have to do is place an onion where you suspect the mice are entering, and they will take one smell and run the other way.
You just have to make sure to put a new onion out every couple of days or it will rot. And again, keep the onion away from any pets, as onions are poisonous to dogs!
Alternately, consider growing onions, leeks, and garlic around the exterior of your garden beds. That tends to repel a number of pests, not just rodents.
When you have devoted countless hours to meticulously care for your garden, the last thing you want to worry about is a rodent infestation that destroys it all. By taking some extra steps to keep the rodents away, you can keep your garden fruitful all season long.