When dealing with mice, the first and most crucial step will be identifying with 100% certainty that you're dealing with mice and not some other critter. The activity and evidence left behind by mice can easily be confused with other animals, especially rats and bats. How do you know whether you're dealing with mice or something else, and what are the best natural methods to get rid of mice?
Mice, rats, and bats are all capable of carrying and spreading disease. To avoid contact with disease-causing droppings, insulation dust, and other hazards, you'll need to make sure you're using proper PPE (personal protective equipment) before you begin.
What Do Mice Look Like?
Mice are small, quick animals that are well-adapted to living in tight spaces and squeezing through small openings. If you ever see a mouse scurrying around your home or yard, it's important to take the necessary steps to keep them out of the house.
Mice are small (7.5" from nose to tail when fully grown), with thin bodies, short legs, and prominent whiskers. They also tend to have large ears and a narrow snout. When it comes to their coloring, mice vary in shade, most commonly ranging in color from brown to gray.
The problem? Mice and rats look very similar (especially when the rats are juveniles), and control for these pests is not the same. Mice and rat control should be handled differently.
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4 All-Natural Ways to Get Rid of Mice
Understandably, many homeowners want to use all-natural methods for mouse control. Just be prepared that this isn't always possible when a mouse issue is severe, and trying to force all-natural controls to work when they aren't could make eradicating mice (or rats) from your home more difficult.
Start with these all-natural control methods, but understand that if the mice don't go away, it may be wise to call a professional pest control company. A good pest control company won't be overeager to use chemical controls, either. They'll listen to your concerns and formulate a plan specific to your concerns and situation.
Reduce Food and Water Sources
Start your mouse control efforts by identifying, reducing, and removing possible food and water sources around your home and yard. If mice are having their food and water needs met on your property, it will be hard to get them to leave.
Any of the following could be a food or water source for a mouse:
- Bird feeders
- Open garbage receptacles
- Irrigation hoses or leaky hoses
Not all of these sources can be easily removed, but by removing and reducing as many as possible, you avoid mice treating your yard like a late-night drinking and dining spot.
Remove Their Cover
Mice are good at hiding. If they are making their way into your home, you're going to want to find where they could be getting in.
Aim to move the following mouse hiding places away from your foundation:
- stacked firewood
- dump items that need to be removed
- pallets leaned up against your siding
- dense ivy or vegetation around your foundation
As the weather gets cold and mice and other animals start seeking out warm places to hide, it will be easy for them to go from hanging out on the side of your home to chewing or clawing their way in. Deter mice, rats and other wildlife from hanging out at your house by removing clutter and ground cover, especially around your foundation. A good rule of thumb? Leave at least 18" clear around your foundation.
Identify and Seal Entry Points
Working on a ladder can be dangerous, and attics and crawlspaces can feel very tight. If you are not comfortable on a ladder or if you are claustrophobic, this is definitely the time to hire a pro or find someone else who is willing to help you inspect.
Rodents are very good at squeezing into small spaces. This is especially true for mice. All a mouse needs is a gap the size of a dime, and where one mouse goes, more will follow.
If you suspect mice are getting into your home, you're going to want to perform a full interior and exterior inspection to find exactly where they're getting in. Remember, you're looking for any gaps the size of a dime or larger.
You'll need the following equipment to perform a proper pest inspection:
- Proper PPE including long sleeves, pants, boots, gloves and eye protection
- A high-quality (ideally 300+ lumen) flashlight
- A ladder
- A mechanic's mirror
Once you're all dressed and ready to go, start with a full walk around of your home while you keep your eyes open for anything suspicious. Not only should you be looking for gaps along the foundation and roofline, but also illuminate any vents or screens with your light and make sure they are undamaged and firmly in place.
Use your mechanic's mirror to look underneath where the siding meets the foundation of your house. If there are gaps in this space, mice can easily climb into your crawlspace.
Traps are an important part of getting mice out of your house, especially if they have made their way inside and you have just sealed up entry points. If you seal up an entry point with mice still inside your home, they will die inside without any way to get out, which can cause stinky smell issues inside your home.
Place traps inside, in the areas where you have sealed up entry points. As the mice attempt to leave, the hope is they will run into a trap instead, which will help you remove any remaining mice that were left inside when you sealed up any holes.
If you are not certain whether you're dealing with mice or rats, don't place snap traps. Snap traps are size specific. Mouse snaps are used for mice, rat snaps are used for rats, and if you use the wrong-sized traps, things can quickly become much more complicated. If you're not sure whether you're dealing with mice or rats but you need to seal entry points and place traps inside, don't despair.
In the case that you're not sure whether you're dealing with mice or rats, consider using glue trays instead. These are not the most humane option, but a rat glue tray is capable of trapping both rats and mice, regardless of size. Snap traps need to be emptied and reset after every trap, whereas glue trays can trap multiple rodents before needing to be changed. Just be sure to wear gloves.
Traps can be dangerous, especially for pets and curious little fingers. Make sure that you place traps out of the way in discreet locations, where dogs, cats and kiddos can't easily access them.
Typically, the two most obvious signs of mice in your home are scratching inside the walls and finding droppings, though you may notice other signs of activity as well.
Just keep in mind that hearing animals in the walls or ceiling doesn't mean you have mice. It could be any number of pests including:
When dealing with rodents, you'll often find other indicators like nesting materials, gnawing on items, and strange odors. Rodents like mice and rats are nocturnal, so if your dog or cat is acting especially alert and strange in the evening, your pets could be picking up on rodent problems before homeowners do.
What Causes Mice in the House?
Our homes and structures often provide mice and rats with everything they need to survive, like food, water, shelter, and warmth. If there are additional conditions around your home that are especially inviting to rodents (like bird feeders, compost, and water sources), they're not likely to go away on their own.
If you want to keep bird feeders in your yard, keep them as far away from the house as possible to avoid inviting mice and rats closer to your home. Also understand that if there are gaps around your home that remain unsealed, rodents can easily find them. Mice and rats are so sensitive to airflow, that just walking by a gap in your siding can pique their interest due to the warmth and smells. Keep an eye on your home and make sure there aren't holes or gaps rodents could climb into (or chew out).
Natural Ways to Keep Mice Away From Your House
Mouse control is a multi-step process, and will require extra diligence if you want to stay away from baits and poisons. Follow these steps for natural mouse control around your home:
- Reduce and eliminate food and water sources such as compost, bird feeders, and leaky hoses.
- Remove rodent hiding places up against the home, such as woodpiles, debris, and dense, ground covering plants.
- Thoroughly inspect your home, identify possible rodent entry points, and properly seal them with chew-proof materials.
- Use snap traps or glue trays inside, especially in areas where you have sealed up any holes.
Don't get discouraged if you're having a hard time. Controlling mice naturally can be tricky, even for the most seasoned professionals! If you've diligently tried everything with little to no success, seek out a professional pest control company that specializes in Integrated Pest Management. They'll look at the ecosystem surrounding your property and help identify and address the root causes of your mouse issue.
Diseases from Rodents. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.