Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

No mice or rats allowed – three

As I’ve said in the earlier posts when I say mice I mean rats too.  These are the things I’ve learned that do or don’t work to get rid of mice.   Mice are smart creatures who know its a dangerous world for animals of their size.  Once they have found a home that is safe from predators, out of the weather, and with a constant supply of food they will not move out voluntarily.  They would rather put up with ultrasonic sound waves and peppermint smells than risk leaving their safe new home.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a city house or a country house; an abundant food supply will break your efforts to prevent mice from moving in or getting a population under control.  Once in –  there are only two ways to get mice out of your house.  Kill them or trap them.   Trapping to be released doesn’t work unless you take them very far away.  Mice have a homing instinct to return home for breeding purposes.   Especially if that home has all the comforts a mouse could want.  I don’t like killing even though I do it when necessary.  Its them or me.  I am a mouse predator!  I want to make my home as unattractive as possible to rodents so none move in here in the first place.

  • Electronic scare away devices work only temporarily.  Don’t waste your money.  Mice quickly adapt to the sound and ignore it as simply background noise.
  • Get a cat or cats.  But it must be a hungry cat or  else the cat will simply think you put the mice there to amuse them.  Louisville has a neighborhood cat program to help control mice and rats.  Feral cats are captured, spayed or neutered, then released back into its own neighborhood.  Cats set to be euthanized are taken from animal shelters to be release too.  The trouble with many neighborhood cats are the “cat people” who feel sorry for the stray animals and feed them.  Only a hungry cat is going to be searching for mice.
  • An old time remedy is to plant mint around your house.  The mice soon find a way around it or tunnel under it.
  • Cotton balls soaked with mint or peppermint essential oil will make your house smell delicious but the smell quickly dissipates requiring you to put out more making this an expensive option while not solving the problem.  Mice soon become nose blind to the smell and ignore it.  Mice have been known to use the cotton balls for nesting material after the smell fades.
  • Mothballs is an old time remedy.  Mothballs are a fumigant against insects and insect larva not an actual mouse deterrent.  In my personal opinion mothballs STINK!!  I’m very allergic to them.  They make me ill just to walk past them in stores.  Mice have been known to simply walk over or around mothballs.  Be extremely careful with mothballs because they can be deadly if a small child or pet should eat one.

  • Old fashioned spring snap traps are the most effective way to rid a home of mice.  These are also the most frugal way to get rid of mice because they can be used over and over.  If you are squeamish about removing a dead mouse you may prefer disposable traps.  Not quite as frugal but you just throw the whole thing away.  Place the snap trap with the deadly side nearest the wall.  Mice stay next to walls when traveling so this the most effective way to get mice.  Mice are very cautious so they may pass by a snap trap several times over several days before going for the bait.
  • Mice love cheese is a myth.  They will eat it if nothing else is available but mice don’t particularly like cheese or any dairy products so those don’t make good trap bait.  The best bait for mouse traps is peanut butter mixed with oatmeal and/or chopped raisins.
  • Poison is an option and there are numerous types on the market.  Most poisons will send the rodent searching for water and if they die inside the house or inside the walls you will have a problem.  The dead bodies will stink horribly if you don’t find them right away.  One option is to put a container of water near the poison and a small cardboard box for the mice to hide.  Hopefully they will die in this convenient removal spot.  If you sweeten the water with a tiny bit of honey or sugar it will be more attractive to the mouse after eating the poison.  The idea is to get them to die out in the open so you can dispose of them easily.  CAUTION:  Do not let your pets eat the dead mice.  The poison in a mouse can kill your pet.
  • Rotate your poison type often.  Mice learn quickly.  Mice sample any food that’s not familiar to them.  A tiny sample bite won’t kill them but it may make them sick.  This gives them “bait shyness” and know to avoid it in the future.
  • You can make your own poisons fairly frugally.  One easy recipe to make is a mix of 1 part borax, 2 parts powdered sugar, and 1 part cocoa powder.  Add a few grains of bird seed in the mix to make it more attractive to the mice.  The sugar, chocolate, and seeds attract the mice and the borax kills them.  CAUTION!  Anything that can kill mice will also kill humans or pets.  Sweet chocolate is attractive to children and pets so keep it well out of reach of both.   Or better yet, don’t use this mix in houses with children.
  • Another possible recipe is to use the same mix but replace the borax with water activated dry cement powder.  Supposedly the cement will be activated by stomach fluids when its eaten.  I haven’t a clue how fast food passes through a mouse digestive system but I imagine either of these DIY poisons would make a mouse very sick if it doesn’t kill them.

  • I’ve heard that instant potatoes will kill mice too.  The potatoes supposedly re hydrate in the stomach acid and expand to rupture the stomach.  I’ve never tried this so I don’t know if it actually works.
  • Create a friendly habitat for natural enemies of rodents.  Owls, cats, foxes, and even snakes will help kill mice.  This won’t work in a city unless you are used to seeing snakes, foxes, or owls in your backyard and/or around your city.  If you live in the country and spot a black snake hanging around don’t kill it.  Its after mice and the best way to let nature work.  Just be sure its a true mouse eating non-venomous black snake.
  • I’ve been told that if I go to the zoo or a pet shop and ask for snake poop to put around my house it would scare away mice.  I’ve never tried this but the logic is the smell is what scares the mice away.  I guess it couldn’t hurt to try it but I’m not sure about carrying snake poop on a city bus.  I don’t believe I want my house to smell like snake poop either.
  • Shrubbery and mulch are attractive landscaping around your house.  However, those make excellent hiding places for mice and their tunnels into your house.  Consider switching wood mulch for rock and trimming back the bushes for more light at ground level.  Mice shy away from light in favor of dark places.
  • Ground cover plants make excellent hiding and tunneling places too.  Keep these to a minimum around the foundation of your house.
  • If you have a open compost pile be sure its located a good distance away from your house.
  • Locate any openings around your house where the mice may enter.  Places where plumbing, air conditioning, cable cords, and other things go into your house from outside should be stuffed with steel wool.  Not the soap kind.  Mice will chew through most any material but steel wool seems to keep them out.  Tightly stuff every opening you can so it can’t be simply pushed aside.  Caution:  do not use steel wool around electrical pipes.  It could possibly cause a short and a fire.  Larger opening should be covered with sheet metal.   A frugal replacement for buying sheet metal is to use vegetable cans flattened and nailed over openings.
  • An outside dryer vent is an attractive opening for mice.  They travel through the vent tunnel into a dark, warm place, loaded with nesting lint.  Consider replacing an older open dryer vent with a new self closing one.
  • Any basement windows with small gaps around them should be sealed with caulking.  Not only will this eliminate a mouse entry point but it will save energy costs.

I believe this is all I can remember about dealing with mice and rats.  I’ve learned these things from years of dealing with them, doing lots of research, and plenty of experimenting.  Over the summer months I’ll be putting into practice as many of these things as possible here at my new house.  Some things will require me to hire a handy person to help with the physical work.  The more I’m able to do to prevent mice and rats the less likely I’ll be dealing with them in the future.



2 comments on “No mice or rats allowed – three

  1. Sarca
    May 19, 2017

    Thank you for the tips! I knew something was up with that peppermint advice…We’ve had to mothball the garage.
    BTW, sealing holes with steel wool or tin foil also works…I mean it’s working for us for now. Mice hate the feel of it, particularly if they try to chew it.

  2. craftytadpole
    May 19, 2017

    Good tips! Thanks.

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