How to Deal with a Rodent Infestation
Yikes! You just spotted a furry little critter zooming across your kitchen floor. When you find a mouse in your home, it’s almost a guarantee that there’s more than just one, and pest control experts will back me up on this one. Instead of turning a blind eye, now’s the time to act.
OR – you may be dealing with another type of rodent and aren’t sure how to get rid of them? I’ll share with you what the signs are for a rodent infestation, how to discourage them, and how to get rid of them if that’s not enough. Here’s how to deal with a rodent infestation that may be going on in your home. These are the mousetraps I buy, Reusable Mousetraps.
One day, our grandson was looking in the large plastic container outside for some toys. He said to me “what are all these black things”? Well, I had never seen desert rat poop. They are the size of cooked rice. The next day I called the exterminator, and he set up rat traps with poison. Now, some may say this is inhumane, well I worry more about making my family sick.
We only had to use the traps one year, thank goodness. They looked like these, Rat Traps. I have since seen these traps outside restaurants and grocery stores. The joy of living in the desert. In case you missed this post, 12 Natural Pest Remedies
We used to put a plastic BBQ cover on our BBQ, nope, the desert rats thought it was a tent or canopy. We also used to put “covers” over our lawn furniture, nope. We had desert rat reunions. Now, nothing is covered and we have not seen desert rats for years.
My Mouse Story
My husband brought home a $5.00 bag full of baseball bats, mitts, and balls he bought at a garage sale. I was not happy, we are trying to declutter. Anyway, we soon found mice in our garage. EVERYWHERE. We put out mouse traps, we caught several. Then I saw mice pee and poops all over my preps in the garage. I store everything in zippered bags, thank goodness. We thought we got rid of them. Nope. Then we saw pieces of plastic all over our car. We found popcorn in the car and the garage floor, from the baseball bag. I was not happy. The pieces of plastic were from the darn mice chewing all the water bottle lids secured throughout the car for an emergency. They shredded the Kleenex box and the contents inside our glove box. Luckily they did not chew any wires in the car. We only have one car so it is used almost every day. It cost us about $200.00 in mouse traps and cleaning supplies to clean the garage and the car. So much for the $5.00 bag from the garage sale. Looking back it is funny but it was not at the time!
How to Deal with a Rodent Infestation
Signs of a Rodent Infestation
Unless you are dealing with a severe case of rodent infestation, you may never see the mouse or rat. Yet they do leave small telltale signs of their presence that you should be aware of. These are things to look for when you have a rodent infestation.
- Rodent droppings in your cupboards or drawers.
- Where there’s a dead mouse or rat, there’s sure to be more live ones.
- Food packaging that has chew marks on them.
- Shredded paper, fabric, or dried leaves being used for their nesting.
- Holes in your floors or walls that may be used as an entry.
- Unpleasant odor coming from small spaces.
How to Discourage Rodents from Living in Your Home
Once you have identified what kind of rodents you are dealing with, it’s time to kick their keisters to the curb. Hopefully, taking away some of their most precious resources, the rodents that you are dealing with will get the hint and move on to someplace else.
This includes discovering where they are finding food, water, shelter, and other supplies inside your home and then preventing them from getting their little paws on any more of these resources. Here’s a closer look at what I mean and some other preventive methods you can try.
Watch for these:
- Don’t encourage rodents by leaving food or fresh fruit sitting out on your kitchen countertop. They’ll even get into a sealed loaf of bread if it’s left where they can get to it. Make sure that all food is kept up high and sealed behind closed pantry doors.
- Get rid of any rodent nests that you come across, along with removing anything that they can use to build a nest.
- Make sure that you keep the garbage that’s in your kitchen in the garbage can that has a lid on it.
- Mice are able to squeeze through some amazingly small and tiny spaces. If you come across any holes or cracks in the floor or in your walls, that may be where they’re coming in. You will especially want to check for them around your exterior doors, windows, and foundation. You will also want to check any access points where electrical wires, plumbing pipes, TV cables, or gas lines are coming into your home.
- Now it’s time to seal the holes, but don’t only use caulk because that probably won’t be enough. It may seem like overkill, but consider using steel wool and cement, which will work great together to patch up your holes.
- Screen your vents and chimney.
- Until you have your rodent infestation under control, stop feeding outdoor birds. Though it’s meant for the birds, mice and rats will also eat birdseed.
- If you have a compost pile outside, be sure to give it a good turn so that no food scraps are sitting on the surface that will provide them with a free meal.
Setting Live Traps
If you’ve tried all of these methods and you’re still dealing with rodents, it’s time to go to the next step. For those of my readers who don’t necessarily want to do lasting harm to your furry little rodent home-invaders, you can resort to using live cage-like traps that will capture them. Once the rodent has been caught, it’s up to you whether you kill them or release them out in the wild.
But if you do release them, you’ll want to do so far away from your home. If you release them back out into your yard, they may come right back in without any hesitation. That’s why it’s so important that you discover where their point of entry is in your home, and seal it off.
Setting Lethal Traps or Poison Baits
You can also choose to set lethal traps, like the snap trap. It’s meant to trap and kill the rodent so that there’s no escape. Unless you’re dealing with a large rat, a snap trap should do the trick. Bait the trap by placing a dab of peanut butter, or a small piece of chocolate for an irresistible treat.
When you are using poison baits, or rodenticides, you’ll combine the poison with something that’s edible that they will not be able to resist. Again, peanut butter has always been a good option.
When you’re using lethal traps or poison baits, make sure that you are closely following the instructions on the label. You also want to make certain that you place them in a location that your children and pets won’t get into them and cause any harm. This is why I would recommend that you set out live traps or tamper-resistant bait stations for rodents for those of you who have smaller children or pets.
Be sure to wear latex or rubber gloves when dealing with a nest or a dead rodent and place it inside of a plastic bag that you can seal up and dispose of. Lastly, you will need to use disinfectant spray, or a mixture of bleach and water to sanitize the area where the rodent was caught or died.
After you’ve tried all of these methods, your rodent problem should be taken care of, but if it’s not, you still have two options. It may be time for you to get yourself a cat, or you will want to look up the number for your local critter removal company so that they can better assist you. What are some other methods you’ve used in the past for dealing with a rodent infestation? Feel free to leave a comment down below so we can assist others who need our help. May God Bless this world, Linda.
Copyright Images: Rat by dirty dishes AdobeStock_350289774 New Africa
34 thoughts on “How to Deal with a Rodent Infestation”
Mice haven’t been as big an issue as squirrels. I’ve got snakes for that lol. Crazy neighbors got enough cats for everyone in the mile line round here. I’ve got a Redtail Hawk nesting in a cottonwood that takes care of the mice and gophers too.
The squirrels chewed up a light string I had hanging on the front porch and the lid on a bucket. I’m setting snares today.
Remember she said “a cat”. Some of y’all are one cat away from being permanently single lol.
Hi Matt, snakes, only you Matt, I got the giggles!! So you have a crazy neighbor with enough cats for a mile??? I can’t stop laughing, this comment made my day! We have squirrels those darn critters eat my pomegranates! I started using metal nets, they dug under them. I have had the desert rats chew through my wires outside so we had to use conduit. They are such a pain! Stay safe, Linda
Squirrels can be very destructive. I had very small ones when I lived in town and those suckers would chew thru my ancient asphalt/asbestos siding to get in between the floors of my house, especially my butler pantry that had a crawl space (but no second story above). I’d put poison and moth balls in the crawl space and those squirrels just tossed those out onto the ground! I’d screw steel plates over their holes, which they’d just chew around the edges, enlarge their original hole. Then I got steel siding on my house. Guess what, it made not a damn bit of difference. My dad told me these were what he called ‘red’ squirrels which are different than the big gray ones? His answer was to fill in any holes with that yellow foam-in insulation. He said they’d try chewing thru it and it would get stuck in their teeth (before they could chew all the way thru). I started seeing dead squirrels in my back yard/alley. Yep, with yellow foam on their teeth, yep, teeth stuck together. Kinda grisly but within a month, no more chewing on my siding. Maybe the others moved on, lol.
HI Wendy, I hear you on the mice/rats chewing through stuff. They chewed the side of my custom-made shed. All the corners, I put metal sides and screwed them in and they chewed around that. My neighborhood has raccoons as well. WHAT A MESS when they leave feces everywhere. Our neighbor had to call the city for help, they will chew through houses, as you mentioned. The bacteria from them is awful. We have Hante Virus here as well. Glad yours moved on! LOL! Linda
Raccoons are the worst dang rodent I can think of…well, other than big sewer rats, giggle. Raccoons Love living next to people! I had a nice compost system and had to harden it to prevent raccoons from getting in it. Like, if they discover a food compost pile, it’s just destroyed as it’s contaminated from their poop. I had years of fighting off the jerks when I had chickens, finally resorting to keeping my cats indoors at night, counting my chickens before locking them in for the night….because my dad told me to use an old pan, fill with antifreeze, put this on my back deck as a tasty treat for raccoons. I never felt bad about doing this. ‘Coons had been ripping apart any chickens they could catch for far too long. I think it took a week of doing this and no more came here for the ensuing years. I do have to add that I only put it on my deck that had a gate, so no wandering dogs or cats would get to it. I’d pick up the dish in the morning very early.
Hi Wendy, I’m glad you got rid of them. They are dangerous critters. We have to protect our family, home, and kids! Linda
I met my resident mouse out in my garden a couple of weeks ago,bold as brass helping itslef to some sunflower seeds I’d given to my chickens. I now have a sonic repeller in the loft, never used one before so I’ll see how it goes, I’ve removed the nest I found today and I have some snap traps to lay out. I always clear up spilled chicken feed and bring it in at night but with neighbours feeding birds and leaving rubbish heaped outside their fences (including food waste) I can only do so much
Hi Hayley, your resident mouse….I got the giggles, not funny but I got the giggles. I have had resident mice (more than one), urghh! That’s terrible about the rubbish heaped outside fences. I don’t get it. I see trash on my street for days, that do on for weeks. THEN I walk down and pick it with gloves and put it in my garbage can. I’m sorry you have to deal with this, it’s not acceptable. Stay safe, Linda P>s. I hope the sonic repeller works.
We adopted the neighbors two cats. They come around and we love to pet them . . . and they hunt and keep out the rodents in my yard. I also planted mint around my wood shed & fruit trees (where it’s confined and can’t move). Rodents and wasps don’t like mint. Mint also keeps out the weeds, and handles me walking on it (while I enjoy it’s divine smell) because it is one tough plant.
Hi Kay, I did not know that about mint!! We get wasps….this is a great tip!! It really is a tough plant! It takes over the yard! I planted some in a 5-gallon bucket, it smells so good! I need to plant a few more buckets of mints! THANK YOU! Linda
1) Rat & Mouse poison KILLS WILDLIFE! The rat/mouse eats it, goes somewhere to die. Wildlife finds it either sick or dying or dead, grabs it up and Eats it, or takes it home to feed to their young. ALL DIE!!!!! Then, some bigger critter finds THAT sick/dying/dead critter and eats it and then THEY DIE, TOO!!!!!
2) WHY would you say to put out rat/mouse POISON and then if it doesn’t get rid of all the mice/rats, to GET A CAT??? Then that CAT will find/EAT those sick/dying/dead mice & rats and the CAT WILL DIE!!!!
NOT a very well thought out article or approach to a rodent problem!
This article needs to be DELETED ASAP.
(NORMALLY, I ENJOY articles on this site, but this one should not be read by ANYONE!)
Hi Appy Horsey, I’m sorry you feel this way. I have had desert rats and the feces they leave in my yard is dangerous and full of bacteria. I have dogs and grandkids. I can’t risk the bacteria the rats leave behind. I try to use snap traps, sometimes they work and sometimes they do not. Linda
Appy Horsey, while I appreciate your concern for other wildlife if a person Must put out poison, this poison is not the same as ones of older times. It used to be thought that if it took longer to kill a rat, others were more likely to eat from this source. Unfortunately, that’s when other animals could get poisoned. Most poisons now work pretty quick. Most wildlife or even pets do Not eat already dead rodents. Granted, there are a few that will but they mostly are cleaning up roadkill (larger animals), not bothering with mice. My cats would laugh their butts off about the thought of eating an already dead rodent. My main concern when I had young children was keeping them away from any poison, hence I used cats to control mice/shrews. There’s always pros and cons about how to protect our families, our pets, and wildlife from Quite harmful infestations of rodents. The article addressed the need to store things, check things, as a way to prevent infestations as well. There can be a balance without harsh judgments. Thanks for thinking on this too.
Pellet rifle, good target practice. We have a problem with gophers here. A horse can break a leg from stepping into a burrow. Also if you have a garden….
Hi Jerry, wow, I hadn’t thought about the horses stepping in the burrows. WOW! Linda
Last spring, my husband made a box that rats could go in and out of but other things like our chickens or cats could not. Inside the box was grain laced with rat poison. We haven’t had a problem since.
Linda, thanks for the article. It’s a good reminder simply to be Aware of our environment and unwelcome critters. There’s a lot of ways people handle getting rid of rodents but it’s easier to try to prevent them from wanting to move in with us, which you also addressed. When I moved rural I was glad I already had a cat and her kitten. I had 2 young boys and didn’t feel safe putting out poison. It’s been almost 20 years and I still have a couple of cats. When a mouse or shrew comes in, the cats stalk it, catch it. I did have something wierd this year: I opened the glove box in my truck and found the papers (and paper masks) shredded! Mouse droppings! Ick! I’d never have thought about my vehicle that was in use at least once a week as a potential home for mice. I found some poison that kills pretty quickly (within an hour), put one square in the glovebox, one under the hood, and one under the backseat. Haven’t seen any more indicators of infestation but there were chew marks on each of these the first week. It’s kind of amusing because I’d recommended putting this same poison in my ex’s stored boat/stored collector car which had worked well. I just Never thought mice would climb up under the engine and into the vent system and set up housekeeping in a vehicle that was regularly used! Maybe the mouses figured out my cats don’t go in my vehicle, lol.
Hi Wendy, oh my gosh, the glove box! My husband brought home a $5.00 bag full of baseball bats, mitts, and balls he bought at a garage sale. I was not happy, we are trying to declutter. Anyway, we soon found mice in our garage. EVERYWHERE. We put out mouse traps, we caught several. Then I saw mice pee and poops all over my preps in the garage. I store everything in zippered bags, thank goodness. We thought we got rid of them. Nope. Then we saw pieces of plastic all over our car. We found popcorn in the car and the garage floor, from the baseball bag. I was not happy. The pieces of plastic were from the darn mice chewing all the water bottle lids secured throughout the car for an emergency. They shredded the kleenex box and the contents inside our glove box. Luckily they did not chew any wires in the car. We only have one car so it is used almost every day. It cost us about $200.00 in mouse traps and cleaning supplies to clean the garage and the car. So much for the $5.00 bag from the garage sale. Looking back it is funny but it was not at the time! LOL! Linda
Oh wow, Linda, that $5 bargain wasn’t a good deal. I always try to find the bright side so here’s what I thought: we were both lucky that the mice hadn’t chewed thru the wiring under the hood of our cars. Or ripped out the insulation of the hood. Because this only happened a few months ago, I’m going to bring my truck to the garage, have them check my wiring/fluid lines/the outside air vent that comes into cars. (Not all cars have this.) I never would have thought mice would chew on water bottle tops like yours did. Thank goodness you had bags around many of your things. Not to be snarky, but I don’t give a dang about using poison. It’s most often what works to protect our families.
Hi Wendy, we really are lucky they didn’t chew through our wires. I need to find that picture of the water bottles and post it in this post. Give me five minutes. I can’t post pictures in the comments. Linda
I live in the rural county of Reno and we have all sorts of critters out here – coyotes, racoons, mice, snakes, etc. However, I have feral cats that live here and I haven’t had a rodent/mouse problem in half of forever. The feral cats take care of that issue. Unfortunately, every now and then a cat “disappears” and I attribute that to cars and coyotes. We hear the latter at night all the time. I will admit that I contribute to the racoon problem because I leave food out for the wild cats. So far, I haven’t had any issue with racoon problems, i.e., scat, destruction under our house (hmm, haven’t been under there so maybe I should check it out…no wait, there’s spiders under there; my husband had better check it out!) Thank goodness I haven’t seen a skunk. Now that would really get to me! Wildlife Dept doesn’t deal with any of these issues, only Pest Control and ouch, they’re expensive.
In our area the local animal control or humane society will release feral cats in your area if requested. You just agree to feed them. It’s a good alternative to rodent/mice issues if you can tolerate the feral cats.
HI Robbie, great comment, we have coyotes too. Luckily they stay up on the hill, so far anyway. I had to giggle, I wouldn’t go under the house either!! LOL! I think you’re right I think my neighbor had to call Pest Control about the raccoons. I remember living where we had skunks once in a while. Boy, this brings back memories! Stay safe, Linda
Poison does have its limitations and particular cautions–at least it’s better than back when I remember my mother having to mix the warfarin to put out (under boxes with small holes) in the barn. Some years back I did resort to putting out the blue pellets–“all-natural bait bits,” I believe the box said–so glad to know it was “natural!” Well–some time later I lifted books out of a glass-front bookcase, only to find blue bait-bits cached behind the books! And in some stored shoes/boots! So I haven’t used it since, not wanting it carried away to where I can’t ensure other animals won’t reach it.
If you find holes or cracks, stuffing steel wool into the holes may help. Rodents don’t like trying to chew it.
Mint planted around the building foundation is supposed to help. I put cotton balls with mint extract in kitchen drawers (nasty to find “black rice” amongst your utensils and realize you have to wash *everything!*)–it does seem to keep them away, but needs to be renewed every so often. Works in cars too. If you have mint growing, you may be able to dry some and put in little cloth bags for the same effect.
Traps–I have a snap-trap always under my sink. May go for a few weeks with no results, then maybe 1-2 every day for a while! I also have a tiny have-a-heart trap, if I need to use one where I can’t protect a cat or dog from the snap trap (I used that under the sink when we had a cat who could open the door–one morning I found a weasel in it–apparently he’d come a-hunting! I let him go to do good…)
There are several varieties of “repeater” traps if you have a really bad infestation. Five-gallon bucket, with a metal rod threaded through a plastic bottle fastened across the top. Make sure the bottle spins freely. Dab some peanut butter several places on the bottle. Fill the bucket between 3″ and half-full with water. Lean a board against the rim of the bucket near the end of the rod. Mouse runs up the board, tries to reach the peanut butter, bottle spins and dumps it into the water. Yes, the mouse drowns–but it’s safe, it gets rid of the mice, and it doesn’t need re-setting–will catch many mice overnight if necessary.
Re. the advice about possibly releasing humane-trapped rodents–please DON’T. We had a terrible experience many years ago, when we suspected someone was indeed releasing live-trapped rats. We had several periods when we’d suddenly be inundated with them–so bad that they even chewed the horses’ feet, at the coronary band, right where the hard hoof joins the skin–I’d find them in the morning with blood running down their hooves. (The exception was the Shetland pony–no bites on him, and I did find a stomped rat in his stall!) The point is, releasing them only puts the problem somewhere else–and you may not see the house or farm on the other side of the hill or trees where you release them. If you have to live-trap them, please drown them, just quickly submerge the trap/container in a large tub of water. I know it’s not pleasant, but dumping the problem on someone else is less so.
Hi Rhonda, yeah, I will not release them to come back again. I can’t afford the mess they leave and the dangerous bacteria they drop. Great comment, I like the bucket idea. Linda
I had a field mouse infestation in my car! Those pesky things chewed through the windshield washer hoses so they don’t work any longer – cannot afford right now to get the hoses replaced! The technician I had change my cabin air filter noticed the mouse debris. He told me to shave off some Irish Spring soap and put a container with holes under my seats, a cloth bag of the shavings in my glove compartment and a container with shavings in the spare tire area in the back end. No more mouse problems! I also believe peppermint will do the same thing although I have not tried that yet. I do change out the soap shavings every 2-3 months when I think about it.
Hi Leanne, oh dang, those darn mice! See, they cost us money when they damage stuff. I need to get some Irish Spring soap, I like that trick! Love it, Linda
Live taps work in the house. They catch the mice with the tiny bit of graham crackers I put into the trap. When the mice get in, the trap closes on them and I pour them down the toilet. I use to have some squirrels out front in my walnut tree, but I shot them with my pellet gun. Took a few shots, but they came down and I buried them in my rose bed. No problems in our cars now. Only once years ago when our vans sat for a few months. Boy what a mess when I turned on when we got home. Blew mouse poo all over!
Hi Cheryl, oh my gosh, I will try graham crackers! I usually use peanut but. The van story, best comment ever, blew mouse poo all over! Funny, not funny, I’ve been there! Linda
I have been having problems with mice too. I now use sticky traps. I have gotten rid of some of my
furry problems. Sometimes I have caught 2 on one trap. So I don’t spread and they don’t spread
anything around I take the trap and leave it outside for a few days then I burn them in my burn barrel
and that way no other animal can get to them. When I sit them out for a few days I sit them in a
5 gallon bucket, its harder to get to them.
I was on another website and they said to use cat liter and peppermint oil and then put it in
a sachet and put them throughout your house. I tried and it did no good. I gave some to my brother and he said the mice ate through them to get to the cat liter. So that idea is going out the window.
Hi June, oh that reminds me I need to get a burn barrel, for emergencies, I couldn’t use it now! HOA and in the city. I have used those sticky traps, they work. They are expensive so I went back to the reusable mouse traps. LOL! Right now, no critters, thank goodness. Linda
When we moved to our ‘new’ home we had a problem with mice. There are a lot of things that can be used. A pail of water, a wire and peanut butter, traps, but we finally found a permanent solution. D-Con with a self contained holder that only the mouse can get into. It works. In a very short time no more mice. No mice now for 2 years. I’ve placed in the basement, under the sink, in the garage and sheds. No mice any more. We live in the woods so we know they are out there. Lots of wild things. We even saw a black bear the other day. I took a shot in its direction to scare it away. It left. Can’t kill those they are protected. I don’t put out bird seed or any other food or animals. No sunflowers. My land, my rules. The d-con works. Fast.
To Matt in Oklahoma,
Really enjoy your comments.
Hi Mary, I love your comment, my land, my rules! I can’t put out birdseed either. When people move into our neighborhood, they realize the cockroaches LOVE birdseed. I live in the desert. LOL! Great tip on the D-Con contained holder. I use peanut butter as well in the traps. I can’t imagine seeing a black bear!! WOW! I’m glad you got rid of the mice! Linda
Hi! Steel wool does not work. Didn’t know why I saw it several places, until rats showed up. These rats will eat, end enjoy mint, peppermint, mints.
We use large snap traps. They fit the mice and rats. They usually die immediately. As Appy Horse said, do not use poison. We had eagles die because the parent brought home a poisoned rat, and the baby dies from the poison. Since the pandemic, because a lot of restaurants and other dining establishments shut down, rats had to range farther afield. All of a sudden, vets saw a large increase in sick cats with mysterious symptoms. They are being poisoned by the poisoned rats, which move slower because they are dying from the poison. A reliable source informed me it can take as long as two weeks for a rat to die from the poison.
A friend told me about using a pest “control” company. They put out the black boxes with poison. One morning, she walked into her kitchen. It had a lot of slow, erratically flying flies. Guess where they had been eating? They also were poisoned. The funny part was she vacuumed them literally out of the air!! She never realized the flies were poisoned.
Also, rotate your bait. In addition to peanut butter, they like jerky and sausage bits. I like to use the peanut butter as an anchor for those in the bait cup. Online people say they don’t like jasmine essential oil. The ones here love it so much they will chew through plastic and metal to get to it!!
I’ve had rats literally disappear with the sticky traps. Not good if they die and you have to find the source of the odor!! Ick.
If you’re lucky, they won’t chew through metal to get to food. They can’t chew through glass. Plastic is no deterrent. They will chew through anything to get to food, including plastic lids on water bottles, aseptic packaging, foil, etc.
Remove food sources as much as you possibly can; remove water, too. And if you’re in a rural area, they could be good target practice.
Good luck with getting rid of them! Cats are great!
Love your comments, Matt!
Linda, thank you!
HI Teddy, I had to stop using the poison from pest control. The traps work better for me. The critters would move the green bait/poison and that’s when I said, nope, done with that. Traps work. I have trouble when they are going through their “nesting” time. They shred paper, BBQ covers, the list is too long to write. It drives me crazy. But the traps make me feel better because I know the poison will travel as you said in half-dead critters. Traps are the best or target practice like you said. Love it! Linda