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…
-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.
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…
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.
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.