How to keep rodents and mice away from your home
Just the sight of that small furry blur as it races by is enough to send chills down most people’s spines.
Yet as much as you may wish your home was rodent-proof, that may not be the case….yet.
How can you keep rodents, mice and rats away from your home? Is there anything you can do to prevent them from even wanting to enter your space?
Happily, the answers to these questions are all “yes.”
Why Do Rodents Come Inside Your Home?
Whether the rodents in question are coming and going from your garage, attic, basement, garden beds or storage shed, all you know is you want them gone.
But why do rodents and mice come inside your space in the first place?
When you can answer this question you are on the road to ridding your home of rodents.
Rodents, rats, mice and other small animals will come in your space for many reasons:
- Seeking shelter.
- Seeking water.
- Seeking food.
- Seeking warmth.
In fact, animals want to come inside your home for the same basic reasons you do!
The same holds true for basements, attics, garages, storage sheds, compost piles and other areas that provide at least minimal shelter and perhaps the chance for food and water.
How Can You Tell Rodents Are Inside Your Home?
Many rodent species, including rats and mice, are more active after dark. This is because it is often safer for them to move around without being spotted by predators – including people.
So how can you tell if rodents have gotten inside your home?
There are lots of warning signs that your space may be infested with rats, mice or other small animals:
- You hear sounds in the attic (tiny scampering footsteps are a dead giveaway).
- You see droppings that look like small dark rice grains.
- You find boxes or bags (or worse, wires and drywall) that have been gnawed on.
- You smell a strong odor that is musty and sharp (rodent urine).
- You see strange holes appearing in your roof or anywhere.
- You find debris that looks like it could be nesting materials.
- Your pet starts acting strangely for no reason, especially at night.
How Can You Keep Rodents and Mice Out of Your Home?
As with any unwelcome visitor, the key to preventing rodents from entering your home space is to remove the reasons they want to come in.
That isn’t always easy because often your home itself and the shelter it provides is a major benefit that rodents want.
So what can you do to keep rodents and mice out of your home?
There are several key actions you can take, starting with getting the rodents that are currently living with you out of your home!
This is critical not just for hygiene and health but also for home safety reasons. Rats and mice chew on electrical wires and can easily start a home fire. So you don’t want to wait to remove any furry houseguests while you rodent-proof your home.
What Can You Do to Get Rodents and Mice Out Now?
So what can you do to evict rodents who have moved into your house?
This is frequently a job for a pest control professional. Reason being, it can involve hunting around in your less-accessible spaces to find the entry points rodents are using to get in and then installing traps or one-way exit doors.
There are many humane ways to wildlife, including live traps and exit-only doors. Using these humane methods are also much safer for your own pets, kids and your whole family.
It can take a day or two for the rodents to find their way into these traps or out the exit doors. This will require close monitoring. The moment they are safely removed you need to seal up the entry points right away. Do this during the day while they are out since most rodents return at dusk.
How Can You Make Your Home Unwelcome to Rodents and Mice?
Even while you are working to remove your rodent lodgers, you can already be taking steps to create a space that is not welcoming for rats or mice.
What are the things you should do first to discourage future rodent visitors?
There are some action steps you have probably thought of and some you may not realize are attracting rodents.
- Block every entry point.
Even if you think you have found absolutely every possible way a rat or mouse might get inside your home, it pays to look again.
Especially inspect your foundation, your attic eaves, your roof, your weep holes (if applicable), your garage doors (you want them to close completely down to the ground), your walls and floors and doors and everywhere you can think of.
Remember, mice in particular can be very tiny! And under their fur they are tinier still. Even very small holes can be easy entry points for a small mouse.
Once you think you have found every possible way in, it is time to board up the entry points. You can block them with bricks, weatherstripping, aluminum sheeting, mortar repair – anything thick and sturdy they cannot chew through.
- Remove all food sources.
Many pet owners are surprised to learn that the food and treats they keep for their animals are also attracting rodents. Make sure that your pet food and treat storage is airtight, sealed and rodent-proof.
The same holds true for people who hang bird feeders for the backyard birds. Squirrels, rats, mice and other small animals find the seeds and nuts a handy supplement to their diet, especially in winter. Unfortunately, you may need to stop feeding the birds and donate your seed if you have a rodent infestation.
Also make sure all of your garbage and recycling bins are squeaky clean and sealed up tight. If you have a compost pile, now might be a good time to stop composting if you have a rodent problem to deal with.
- Remove all water sources.
While it is never possible to remove sources of water and moisture completely, at least remove pet water dishes and sources of standing water wherever possible.
- Trim back garden beds and landscaping near your home and other structures.
When foliage grows too close to your home, this can provide the perfect camouflage for an enterprising rodent trying to find their way into your home. Rodents are perfectly capable of scaling trees and jumping short distances onto your roof. They can also dig down beneath the dirt to find entry points in your foundation.
By trimming back the foliage and pruning nearby trees and high bushes, you expose their hidden pathways and discourage further use.
If you happen to have fruit or nut trees or a vegetable garden, it is very important to harvest ripe produce immediately. Pick up any fallen fruits or nuts, including acorns and pine cones. Keep your lawn trimmed and raked to avoid having your yard look like the neighborhood buffet.
- Clean everything inside and out.
This can be a chore and a half, but it is the only way to expose secret stashes of food and nesting material that may be attracting repeat rodent visitors.
Even if you are not sure whether rodents have actually gotten into the interior of your home, by carefully checking for old spills, chewed pet food bags and other telltale signs, you can clean strategically to remove temptation in less-visible places.
How Can You Keep Rodents and Mice From Returning to Your Home?
It can be a lot of work to get the rodents out and keep them out! Is there any way you can keep them from returning….ever?
The truth is, there are no guarantees that the rodents will never ever try to come back inside your home.
But as with many theft deterrent systems, the chief goal is not to make your home theft-proof but simply to raise the bar so the thief decides it isn’t worth the trouble to break in.
In the same way, your ultimate goal is to make your home seem so unwelcoming from every angle – difficult to enter, lack of amenities, no food or water or shelter – that the rodents and mice seek elsewhere for these essential things.
It may not seem like a nice thing to do to your neighbors, but it is necessary if you want the rodents to stay away for good.
Keeping rodents and mice from finding your home attractive can be a full-time job. This is especially true when you discover you have mice or rats living inside your home. Remember, where there is one rat or mouse you can see, there are always others you can see.
By staying vigilant and persistent, you can rid your home of rodents and mice and make sure they stay gone.