How to get rid of mice in your home and your outside yard

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Finding mice in your home or garden is a big issue. These creatures regularly migrate to people's homes, and according to US census information, it's a problem that affected more than 1.5m households in the last year.

If you do notice mice, you need to act swiftly. They can multiply quickly, damage your home, and spread disease that puts your family at risk. However, what can you do when you want to get rid of mice, but you want to do it humanely?

Thankfully, you can get rid of mice ethically from your home and your yard by following a few simple steps. 

How to get rid of mice in your home 

Learning how to get rid of mice in your home involves understanding what attracts them there in the first place. There are three main reasons mice will enter your home.

Reasons mice enter a home

While mice can thrive in a variety of environments, they will enter a home in search of:

Food: Mice need a constant source of food. If you have exposed food or crumbs, mice will be happy to stick around.

Shelter: Mice seek out warmer places during the cold months. 

Nesting: When mice want to breed, they look for soft materials to build a nest. A home can provide them many options, like cotton, insulation, pet hair, etc.

How do you know you have mice?

You know that you have mice when you can see a few of these signs:

  • You see one
  • You notice mouse droppings
  • You hear noises from the walls or ceilings
  • You see scratch marks on food on your shelves and food packaging
  • Your pets are agitated or acting strangely
  • You find nests made from soft materials

How to remove mice humanely

When you know you have mice, you need to act quickly before they multiply. But how can you do it without killing them? Follow these tips.

#1. Remove food sources

Mice will happily stick around your home if you give them a source of food. The best way to make them leave is to cut off the supply. So make sure no food is left out, and you keep your home tidy. 

Also, don't leave pet food out; seal everything in glass or metal boxes that mice can't chew through or access.

#2. Seal up entry points

Mice can squeeze through 1/4 inch entry points. So, find any areas around doors, walls, and cupboards that allow them access to your home. Seal them up with steel wool, caulk, and duct tape. Of course, be careful not to block ventilation.

#3. Make a natural mouse repellent

Mice are very sensitive to smell. As such, one effective method you can use to get rid of these rodents is to make mixtures with scents that repel mice. 

Two of the most effective natural repellents are apple cider vinegar and hot pepper. Mix water with either of these ingredients in a spray bottle and hit the areas where mice travel, potential entry points, and the perimeter of your home. 

Remember, mice travel tight against a wall. So apply these mixtures along routes they are likely to travel.

#4. Live traps

Live traps don't use poison or other hazardous materials. They are readily available and can trap a mouse without killing them. Typically, bait like cheese or peanut butter can coax mice into these traps.

Once caught, you can release the mice. But make sure you do so at least a mile or more from your home. Otherwise, the mice can find their way back to your home. 

#5. Essential oils

Essential oils can also help you get rid of mice from your home. The best method here is to soak particularly aromatic essential oils in cotton wool and leave it around areas where mice frequent.

Some of the best options here are peppermint, lavender, and cloves. While this method won't remove a mouse population on its own, it can help reduce their activity.

#6. Sound

Mice are also sensitive to sound. One of the most humane ways to eliminate these unwelcome guests is to invest in an ultrasonic sound unit. The principle here is that high-pitched noise can drive mice away. However, some research suggests that mice can adapt to these auditory attacks within a few days.

Another downside of using ultrasonic noise to repel mice is that household pets might also be bothered by the noise. While these devices emit sound at frequencies outside the range of human hearing, dogs and cats can still hear them.

#7. Get a cat

Humans have been using cats for millennia to help ward off mice. Felines are one of the most effective methods for managing a rodent population. Even the smell of a cat, particularly its urine, can be enough to encourage mice to find a safer environment.

Of course, getting a cat is a significant commitment. Additionally, many buildings don't allow you to have pets. However, if you know someone with a cat, they may let you take it for a few days.

How to get rid of mice outside your home

Having mice in your home is not something you should take lightly. They can bring and spread disease and cause a lot of damage. But what should you do when you notice mice outside of your home?

Again, we would recommend you take action. For starters, a large mouse population in your backyard could become a problem inside your house, especially when the weather turns cold and mice look for somewhere to stay.

Secondly, if you grow plants or crops, mice can eat your produce and ruin your yard.

Here are some tips to help you out.

Tips for removing mice from your yard

#1. Keep your grass short

Mice don't like feeling vulnerable or out in the open. So keep your grass short, so they won't feel confident running around. Short grass makes them much less likely to cross your yard.

#2. Clear the base of your house

If your house siding is full of clutter, or even plants and bushes, it allows mice to move around your garden. If you have a mouse problem, it's best to clear these potential paths so they can't move around under cover.

#3. Assess your composts situation

Compost is a gardener's best friend. However, mice are also big fans. So, if you have compost around your yard, you must assess the situation carefully.

Where and how you store your compost is important. If you keep it in an old wooden container or bin — as many people do — it can easily rot at the bottom. These holes are like an invitation for mice. They often eat compost, and if they see it as an easy or regular food source, they might set up a home nearby.

So keep compost in plastic containers away from the ground and out of reach of mice.

#4. Secure your trash

Mice are attracted to easy food sources. An uncovered trash can will provide them with precisely what they want.

There are a few things you can do here. Firstly, ensure your trash is kept on concrete and not grass. Secondly, ensure the lids are secured on your trash — mice can easily climb into overflowing bins. Finally, use metal or hard plastic so mice can't access food or other materials in your trash can.

#5. Secure bird seed

Birdseed is a great way to attract birds to your yard. However, it can also provide a source of food for mice. Unsecured feeders are accessible to rodents, and any spilled seeds will make them feel right at home. 

So ensure your feeders are secure and clean up any nearby spillage.

#6. Keep your yard as clear as possible

Yards have a way of accumulating stuff. Old cars, furniture, and broken appliances can all provide shelter for mice and other rodents. If you have a mouse infestation, you need to eliminate hiding places where they can nest. So get any scrap removed.

Secondly, if you have a wood burner, you'll probably have lots of chopped wood lying around. Many people choose to keep it by the side of their house. However, it's best to keep it away from your premises, or ideally, on a raised lumber rack. 

FAQs

Q: What scent will keep mice away?

A: Mice are repelled by various scents like cayenne pepper, peppermint oil, apple cider vinegar, and cloves. Additionally, the smell of ammonia and cat litter can also keep mice away.

Q: Do mice ever go away on their own?

A: Unless you take action, mice have no reason to leave. As long as you are offering them a source of food and shelter, they will stay and reproduce.

Q: What is the best home remedy to get rid of mice?

A: Spraying peppermint essential oils around floorboards and areas where you see mice can help drive them away because they hate the smell.

Q: What attracts mice to your house?

A: Mice are attracted by food, shelter, warmth, and nesting materials. If you leave food lying around or have crumbs on the floor, mice will be happy to set up a home on your premises.

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