Finding a mouse or rat can be a shocking and revolting experience, but it’s a common one. Remember, a rat can enter a hole about the size of a quarter; a mouse only requires a dime-sized hole. If you can fit a pencil into the hole, it’s likely a mouse can fit through as well.
Mice, rats and other rodents cause billions in damage every single year. In addition to structural damage, they can also create health and fire hazards when they chew on wiring, contaminate food and die inside the home. Rodents are known to carry a myriad of diseases and even other pests, such as lice, ticks and fleas.
While we normally think of rodent infestations as a winter issue, rodents and other animals still need food and shelter in warmer weather. Unfortunately, rats and mice are year-round pests. All they need is a little incentive, such as food, warmth and water.
Regardless of the time of year, rats and rodents make horrible house guests. Luckily, there are many things you can do to prevent mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks and other rodents from seeking food, water and shelter around your property.
April is National Pest Management Month. Every year, pests cause about $5 billion in damage. So take the time to make sure your home is sealed tight and not attracting pests.
Keep the Mouse Out of the House
Short of getting a cat, here are 5 natural ways to keep rats and rodents out of the home.
1. Seal Holes
The first step is to conduct a careful inspection of your home to make sure mice have no way to get inside. Look around your homes for gaps and cracks, especially holes near porches, decks, AC units and where pipes and utilities enter the building. Homes with crawl spaces are especially vulnerable to rodent infestations.
Common air sealing trouble spots to foam or caulk:
- Porch Roof
- Vents Fans
- Whole-House Fan
- Wiring and Plumbing Utilities
- Garage Door, Walls and Windows
- Rim Joists
- Sill Plate
- Windows and Doors
Here are some tips for finding and sealing air leaks and potential pest entryways:
- Caulk, foam and weatherstrip the common air sealing trouble spots above.
- For cracks and gaps in your home smaller than ¼ inch, use weather resistant caulk. Use expandable spray foam for any gaps larger than ¼ inch.
- Inspect attic insulation for dirty or water-damaged spots. Fix the nearby leak before replacing insulation material.
- Make sure your dryer vent isn’t blocked. Consider installed pest guards on your flue vents.
- Keep fireplace flue damper closed when not in use.
- Contact a professional to locate and seal all entry and exit points.
Inspect the weatherstripping around the garage door for damage. Sometimes, rodents will chew through the gasket to get indoors. If rodents are chewing through the bottom corners of your garage door, install a piece of metal (garage door rodent guard) to block entry.
Finding and sealing air leaks can be difficult if you’re not a professional. Contact ABC for a thorough inspection and identification of your pest problem. Then, we’ll find and seal all entry and exit points and develop an individualized exclusion and rodent control program.
2. Use Natural Rat and Rodent Deterrents
In addition to finding and sealing air leaks around the home, you can get extra protection from the following natural rodent deterrents:
- Tabasco Sauce – Transfer tabasco sauce to a spray bottle and spray around the foundation of your house.
- Cayenne Pepper – Every couple of weeks, sprinkle some cayenne pepper around areas where rodents may enter the home.
- Garlic – Mix finely chopped garlic with water and spray around area where vermin may enter.
- Cloves – Put plenty of cloves inside a pantyhose and leave it hanging in pest trouble spots.
- Peppermint – Soak cotton balls in 100% pure peppermint oil and place them around areas where mice can get in. You can also mix the peppermint oil with water and use it as a spray. Spray or replace the cotton balls every 2-4 weeks.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Spray a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water around the outside of your house every month or so.
- Mothballs and Camphor Balls – Place mothballs and Camphor balls near the corners of basements, attics and other problems areas.
- A Cat – It’s not just the cat that deters rodents, it’s the smell. You can also try buying fox, coyote or bobcat urine and placing urine-soaked cotton balls around the perimeter of the home.
3. Trim Trees
Tree branches can serve as the perfect bridge into your home for rodents and other pests. Trim any tree branches that are touching your roof or siding. Make sure no branches or plants are within 6 inches of your home.
When planting new bushes, shrubs or large plants, make sure they are at least 3 feet away from the foundation.
4. Remove Sources of Moisture and Shelter
If you have a leak, repair it. Learn how to find and fix moisture problems in the home.
Keep your yard and outdoor area free of any old tires, appliances, garbage, boxes, and anything else where rodents and vermin can hide. Keep your landscaping maintained. Store any piles of wood or brush off the ground and far away from the home.
5. Cleaning and Food Storage
It only takes a small amount of accessible food—some cabinet crumbs perhaps—to sustain a rodent. A small plumbing leak—a couple drips—is enough to satisfy their water needs.
Cleaning may not be your favorite activity, but spending 10-20 minutes every day can go a long way to keeping your home clean and pest-free. The key is to develop a habit to clean up messes as they occur rather than let them pile up and cause damage, attract pests and become a much more difficult task.
Rodents can easily chew through a box of cereal. Consider storing food in mouse-proof containers.
Additionally, make sure all trashcans have tight-fitting lids and any bird feeders are inaccessible to rodents. Learn more spring cleaning tips for pest prevention.
The last thing you want is to find during your midnight snack is a mouse in the house. Use the rodent-proofing tips in this article to keep you house free of rodents.
Contact ABC Home & Commercial Services to help you find and fix all your home’s openings and points of entry.