Desperate for ways to keep mice away from your home for good? Read on!
Over the years we’ve had a lot of trouble with mice around the homestead. They get in the house, the vehicles, the trash cans, the workshop, the chicken coop. They chew into the bags of animal feed. They get into the food storage closet and poop all over the tops of our canned goods. They make nests in our stored clothes if a storage lid is askew. If we aren’t diligent about keeping them out they can become a real menace very quickly.
Not only do they chew stuff up and make a mess, mice also harbor diseases. Throughout history, rodents have been the carriers of dangerous diseases, viruses, and bacteria. From Hantavirus to the Black Death of the Middle Ages, the severity of the illnesses rodents can cause should be taken extremely seriously.
We’ve tried to be proactive in keeping mice away from our home, but anyone who lives in the country in a manufactured home will tell you it’s nearly impossible. If there’s even the tiniest gap (1/4 inch!) in the flooring or walls, they’re going to find a way in.
Currently we’re dealing with mice in our air ducts. Unfortunately, our home has standard Flex Duct which is easy for rodents to chew through. Evidently they’ve found their way in and are making a home in our vents. I hear them scurrying below the air registers at night.
I know this can’t be good for our health, and it’s of great concern to me. Our hope is to replace our air ducts with metal duct work eventually. It’s expensive, though.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you what we’ve been doing to minimize the problem of mice in and around our home. If you have any suggestions or tips to add to the list, I’d love to hear them!
Here’s our checklist to keep mice away…
1. Keep Trash Away From The House
Obviously garbage is going to attract rodents. Keep bags of trash in sealed trash cans stored well away from the home (not up against it). Metal trash cans are better than plastic. Determined rodents will chew right through a plastic trash can to get to the goodies they smell inside. If you go with a metal can, put it up on cinderblocks if you don’t have an area to keep it up off the ground where it will eventually rust. Replace any cans that have cracks or holes in them, and make sure the lids fit securely.
Junk piles also need to be cleaned up and cleared out. If you have old stuff just laying around in piles on your property it’s time to clean up the mess. Remember, rats and mice carry diseases. You don’t want to do anything to encourage them to nest around your home.
2. Store Feed and Seed in Metal Trash Cans Off The Ground
Along those same lines, if you have livestock feed, bulk grains or seed, it’s best to store them in a metal container so that mice can’t chew through the can. Mouse droppings in your animals’ feed is dangerous for your livestock. Again, make sure metal cans aren’t sitting directly on dirt or grass, otherwise they’ll rust and pests will be able to get in.
3. Install Metal Air Ducts Instead of Flexi Duct
As I mentioned, Flexi Duct is easy for rodents to chew through and nest inside. If you can afford metal air ducts, although they have their own set of pros and cons, they’re the better option for keeping mice out of your duct work.
Breathing mouse droppings can be dangerous, and a house that smells like mouse urine is unpleasant and embarrassing.
If mice are a problem in your area or you think they could become a problem, consider replacing Flexi Duct with metal duct work to keep rodents out.
4. You Need A Mouser
Cats really do make a huge difference in your mouse population. Just the smell of a cat nearby might deter them. Since having a cat around the homestead our infestation problems have significantly decreased. Our cat, Gracie, is a huge asset to us. She kills mice, moles, voles, and other unwanted critters.
You want a cat that’s a good hunter, not a lazy one. Don’t leave a bowl of cat food out all day or overnight, which could keep her fat and happy and unmotivated to hunt (not to mention attracting more pests). Instead, put out food twice a day and only give your cat what she needs to be satisfied, then collect the food bowls to keep put up until the next feeding.
5. Don’t Kill Helpful Snakes
Some of you may remember when we were new to the homestead and I killed a black snake in our chicken coop. (In my defense, it was totally eating our baby chicks.) I’ve since learned how beneficial it is to have black snakes (and other harmless varieties) around our property to keep rodents as well as more dangerous snakes away. If you find a “good” snake in an undesirable place, consider carefully moving it somewhere you’d rather it be.
6. Protect Stored Food
Any food you have in your pantry, cabinets, or long term food storage should be protected from pests. If mice can smell food in your home you can bet they’ll be looking for a way to get to it.
Bags and boxes of food should be stored in such a way that mice can’t even smell them. Plastic or metal storage containers, and cabinets that close securely with no gaps are a must.
We’ve had trouble with mice chewing on the plastic lids of our #10 cans of freeze dried foods. Even though they can’t get into the metal, they’re leaving droppings all over the tops of the cans and chewing up a useful plastic lid. To help mitigate the damage, I’ve begun storing our #10 cans upside down on the shelves, sometimes in the original shipping box, so that at least the mice can’t chew the plastic lid and if they leave droppings on the cans it will be on the bottoms of the cans where I won’t be opening them (and possibly contaminating the food).
For home canned foods I have several JarBoxes that keep my jars protected from mouse droppings. Jars with metal lids are especially vulnerable to rust when mice pee on them, so protecting them is critical if you have a mouse problem. You can also stack the jars with a board or piece of cardboard between them, and then store the very top layer of jars upside down so that mice can’t get on the lids.
Large plastic buckets are great for bulk food storage. I’ve had mice try to chew through them only to give up. I’m sure a particularly determined mouse could get through given the opportunity, but so far we haven’t seen that happen.
7. Plant Peppermint?
I read somewhere that planting peppermint around your home’s foundation will keep mice and ants away. Yeah. That hasn’t worked for us in either instance. Maybe peppermint essential oil would work better? It would be something you’d have to constantly be applying. Anyone tried this and found it to work?
8. Keep Your Vehicles and Outbuildings Clean
Mice will look for anywhere warm and cozy to nest and multiply. Vehicles and outbuildings make great breading grounds for rodents.
Make sure you keep your vehicles clean from food, crumbs, and wrappers which might have food scent on them. Also remove trash, paper, clothing, or anything else that mice might be able to chew up and make a nest in.
Remove old vehicles and unsalvageable items (such as old appliances or sofas) from your property. They’re a haven for mice.
Keep your outbuildings neat and properly store clothing, blankets, towels, hats, gloves, etc. Keep anything cloth (even shoes) in plastic storage totes with secure lids to keep mice from chewing them up and nesting in them.
9. Keep The Grass Mowed and Hedges Trimmed
Mice love to hide in tall grass and overgrown shrubs. Keep grass trimmed and plantings neat around your home so that you don’t provide cover for mice and rats. By opening up their hiding places you expose them to predators, forcing rodents to nest elsewhere.
Hedges should have clearance beneath them to discourage mice from making their homes there. Keep shrubs trimmed and neat so that anything scurrying beneath them will be exposed to predators.
10. Install Door Sweeps in High Risk Areas
Install heavy duty door sweeps on all exterior doors with a gap of 1/4″ or greater. Also install sweeps on interior doors leading to food pantries or other high risk areas. Make sure you use a high quality, thick door sweep. We initially went with cheap stick-on ones and the mice pushed right underneath them.
11. Seal Up Holes Around the House
When we first moved our modular home onto our property, we were almost immediately overrun with field mice. It should have been expected seeing as we’d just cleared out their homes and habitat.
After doing a thorough inspection of where the mice might be coming in we discovered that there were huge gaps in the flooring around the plumbing under our sinks that went straight through to the ground. We stuffed steel wool into the holes and sprayed Great Stuff Gap Filler over it all to keep out pests as well as drafts. So far in the eight years we’ve been there no mice have made it back through those holes. Knock on wood.
Unfortunately for us, there will always be holes that we won’t be able to get to. Mice get into our walls and even our ceiling because of the small gaps in the framework. There’s no way to seal the gaps unless we completely tear the house apart. Our best bet is to do the best we can to keep from attracting mice to our home in the first place. (More cats??) Once they’re in, we use snap traps and live traps to catch and kill them. Poison has not worked well for us because they just die in the floors or walls and stink up the place.
We’re gonna get a quote for the metal duct work to see if it’s something we might be able to afford. Although I expect it to be a significant investment, I don’t think we have much of a choice considering the health consequences of breathing in mouse excrement when the A/C is blowing.
I know I’m not the only one out there with these problems! Tell me your mouse story and what you’re doing or have done to help remedy the issue.
*This site has some really interesting information about rodent diseases and more ways to keep your home rodent free (including recommendations for keeping wood piles 100 feet from the house). Good tips.