Man Versus Rodent: Will Home Remedies Win?
Mice! Rats! There isn’t much time to ponder which is which when you see one in your house. Mice and rats are viewed as symbols of destruction and rightly so. Their gnawing mouths wreck havoc on everything from fields to clothes. That’s probably the reason why you should be looking for some home remedies to get rid of mice. Before we start looking at how to rid ourselves of the mice, let’s take a closer look at the rodent family. It will help us understand how they work and why the function the way they do.
MICE AND RATS ARE NOT THE SAME CREATURES
Most people use the word rat and mouse interchangeably. Few realize that there is a difference between these two creatures. The difference lies in the size of the rodent. Mice are decidedly smaller creatures. Their larger counterparts are called rats.
The reason why people are so afraid of rats is not just because of the destruction they cause. It is also because of the diseases that they carry. Bubonic plague is one such example. Other than plague, the CDC (Center for disease control) lists around 12 different diseases that are spread by rats alone. This is enough to get a person worried. In addition to this one of the species of rat (The black rat!) is known to be the world’s most invasive species.
RAT INVASION IS A REAL THING!
Yes! Rats do invade areas and when they do they cause large scale destruction to property and life. The commonest way for rats to be carried is accidentally via ships. Most species of rats are omnivores which mean that they can survive by eating almost everything. The introduction of rats albeit accidentally has resulted in a number of species dwindling because rats prey on the eggs of small animals and birds. In addition to this, rats also multiply at a very fast pace. This means that the population quickly spreads through the land if not controlled. This is particularly important when it comes to small islands where rats are not a native species.
The only place that has not been infested by rats yet is the continent of Antarctica. This is largely due to the extreme temperature and the lack of human habitation.
Unlike rats, mice are largely herbivores. This is why they are largely found in fields and gardens. While this may make a home owner happy don’t rejoice prematurely. These mice are usually responsible for the destruction of your vegetable garden and sometimes even your flower gardens. They even nibble and pick up fruit from your fruit trees. Since they exist in the vast open outdoors, they are hard to spot and even more difficult to catch. Hence the need to find home remedies to get rid of mice continues.
THE BATTLE BETWEEN MICE AND FARMERS
The battle between mice and farmers continues as every farmer tries to safeguard his crop from the pesky rodents. The battle isn’t fought just on the farmer’s fields. The farmer has to also worry about the produce once he has finished harvesting his crop. Reports often tell about mice infestations that destroy the entire stock that has been stored in warehouses. It is for precisely this reason that farmers are on the search for home remedies to get rid of mice.
A GLANCE AT THE DAMAGE IN FIGURES
Did you know that rats and mice have been known to cause damage to over one percent of the entire world’s crops? That isn’t all. These figures grow when you look at the damage to the crops in developing countries. Some reports put the figure at anywhere between 3 to 5 percent. Let’s look at the damage in another way. Let’s compare figures between rats and mice.
Being larger than mice, it is but obvious that rats eat more than mice. The question however is how much. It has been ascertained that a rat will eat approximately 25 grams of food every day. A mouse on the other hand eats only 4 grams of food every day. This means that a single rat can cause around 6 times more destruction than a single mouse can.
Eating the produce is just one way in which rodents destroy stored produce. Contaminants left by rats and mice leave the produce unfit for consumption. These contaminants include feces, hair and urine. Mice and rats also carry pathogenic substances that can be left in the produce. These pathogens cause a variety of diseases if consumed. What makes it worse is the fact that these contaminants are very hard to remove. This means that the produce is then deemed unfit for consumption and is disposed off.
There are other ways in which mice and rats affect farmers and homeowners. Some of the frequent complaints are rats/mice eating into cables, bags, tarpaulins, doors, etc. These effects can range from annoying to downright alarming. This is because these damages can lead to long term effects. Damages in the cables due to chewing can lead to sparks and fires. Damage to bags, tarpaulins, pallets etc leads to spillage of grain which subsequently leads to spoilage.
One way or the other both mice and rats cause a great deal of damage. Since prevention is better than cure most people try to avoid having an infestation in the first place. That however is not always possible. Sadly most people don’t realize that they have a rodent infestation till it is too late. In order to know in advance one needs to know how to look for the signs. That’s exactly what we are going to talk of next.
LOOKING FOR THE SIGNS
It is always wise to look for signs of rats or mice in your house or on your farm. No one wants a rat or a mouse to sneak up on them. Unfortunately most people look for actual rodents as a sign. There is one major problem with that. Rats and mice are nocturnal animals. This means that they will come out at night to forage for food making them almost invisible in the day. Spotting a rat or mouse in the day will likely mean that you have a very bad infestation of rats/mice on your hands.
-The droppings tell a tale
While rats and mice may not always be spotted, their droppings can be frequently seen. In fact the type of droppings can tell you whether you have rats or mice on your hands. Rat droppings are usually larger and are well formed. The droppings of mice on the other hand are irregular in shape. You can tell how recent the droppings are by the texture of the droppings. Shiny and soft droppings indicate that the rat was in the vicinity recently. Older droppings tend to be grey or even a matt black in color. This happens usually after approximately 2 or 3 days. If you don’t know what rodent droppings look like, the term ‘black rice’ will give you a hint.
Urine left behind by rats and mice can be spotted by using an ultraviolet light. The urine will look fluorescent. This is another dead giveaway. The only downside to this is that you need to invest in a UV lamp.
-Every creature leaves a track
Another way to spot if you have rats is to look and spot runs that the rodent takes. An easy way to do this in a building is to look for tracks that are free of dust. You may even see a well worn path of little feet on a dusty floor. In case you are looking for rodent tracks where it is not dusty then sprinkle some flour or some talcum powder on the floor overnight. Check it in the morning. If you see tiny footprints then you know that there are either rats or mice in the house. It is also said that rats leave greasy stains when their fur comes in contact with anything. This could be another giveaway.
-Devastation wherever they go
I find that one of the biggest giveaways is the damage that they cause. Chewed boxes, half eaten grain, gnaw marks etc are all signs that there are rats or mice in your house. It is always wise to keep an eye on the electrical wires too. Rodents chew on anything that they get. By being aware that they have attacked your wires, you could save yourself from an accidental fire.
-Look for the nest
All kinds of rodents including rats and mice make nests. These nests could be in the form of burrows in the ground, they could be on the roofs or they could even be in your cardboard boxes. The need to look for these nests is real because it will tell you if the rats/mice are breeding in the area. If they are it means that the number of rodents will multiply quickly.
-The odor is undeniable
One thing that is common between rat infestations and infestations of mice is the stench. When the infestation gets real bad, you will be hit with a real bad smell as you enter the area. This smell is usually due to urine and fecal droppings that the rats and mice leave behind.
IS A SINGLE MOUSE / RAT A PROBLEM?
Most people wonder how much damage a single rat/mouse can do. The answer is a lot! It depends on what the rodent decides to chew. The devastation however does not stop just there. A single rat or a mouse can have around 10 litters each year. Each litter will consist of 5 to 6 young ones. Within 6 weeks these young ones can produce their own litters. Do the math and understand just how big a population of rats you will have in a year. That is the reason why you need to keep some home remedies to get rid to rid of mice and rats at hand.
PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE
Before we head on to look at the home remedies to get rid of mice or rats, let us take a look at what preventive measures one can take to keep them away in the first place.
-Keep what rats and mice want out of reach!
It is important to know that rats and mice will be attracted to your home or to your farm only if you have something that they want. As with all pests, the usual and most common attraction is food. Keep the food out of reach. Do not allow any spilled grain or food to remain overnight or it will be used in the rodent’s feast. Some people even store their produce separately. That way if one store is attacked, the other one still remains safe.
While food is needed as a source of nourishment, water is needed for hydration. That is why it is essential that there is no water source close by. Stagnant water should be drained out and all accesses to any source of water need to be closed. Fix dripping faucets and leaking pipes immediately.
-Cramped spaces are a big no-no!
Rats and mice love cramped spaces where they can hide. It allows them to move about without being seen. That is why it is important to keep the room clutter free. Pallets should be stored at a meters distance from each other. Ensure that the pallet has a good enough elevation from the ground. It shouldn’t be too small that it is easy for the rat to hide but it should be high enough that you can see underneath it.
-Close all access points
We usually think of doors, windows, ventilation shafts and roofs when we talk of access points and rodents. Rightly so! These access points need to be sealed carefully for you do not want a rat or mouse to get in. There is a way of taking this security one step further. In order to do that you need to ensure that there is no grass that is growing around the store room or your house. Grass, particularly tall grass acts as a cover which rats and mice use to travel under. It camouflages their movements and allows them to move freely. Removing the grass helps make it difficult for the rodents to enter the building.
HOME REMEDIES TO GET RID OF MICE AND RATS
The use of chemicals in ridding our homes and farms of pests has been on the rise in the past few decades. Many people fail to realize that along with exposing the rodents to these dangerous chemicals you are also exposing yourself to them. In addition to this, using these chemicals where food supplies are stored is potentially dangerous. While this realization is slowly beginning to dawn on the minds of the farm owners, more and more people are looking for home remedies to get rid of mice and rats.
– Ammonia and detergent
Ammonia is used in a popular home remedy to get rid of mice and rats. All that you need to do is take two spoons of detergent and mix it with ¼ glass of water and 2 cups of Ammonia. Place it in a bowl. This bowl now needs to be placed in a place that the rats frequent often. How do you know which place to put it in? Choose the place with the most droppings. That is usually a hot spot.
Now you will wonder how Ammonia works. If you have handled Ammonia before, you will know that Ammonia gives out a very strong smell. Rodents can’t stand the smell of Ammonia and hence it is pretty effective in keeping them away. After placing this Ammonia mixture, you will slowly begin to find that the droppings reduce.
I never thought that pepper would make the list of home remedies to get rid of rats and mice. Not only does it make the list but it has proven to be extremely effective overtime. Pepper has a pungent smell and it acts as an irritant when inhaled. Anyone who has accidentally inhaled pepper can attest to that. Now imagine a rat or a mouse who crawls through the night with its nose pressed close to the ground which is sprinkled with pepper powder. It cannot escape the pungent powder and the irritation causes difficulty in breathing. The effect is immediate. The rats/mice will quickly move out of the area.
– Bay leaf
Most people associate bay leaf as a means to get rid of cockroaches. Few people realize that it is one of the best home remedies to get rid of mice and rats. Rats and mice mistake bay leaves as food. They actually eat it without realizing that the leaves are toxic to their bodies. Bay leaves are also easy enough to use. Spread crushed bay leaves in the affected area till all the rats are exterminated.
Peppermint oil is also used as a home remedy against mice and rats. Like pepper and ammonia, the pungent smell of peppermint keeps rats at bay. All you have to do is find some cotton balls and dip them in peppermint oil. Now distribute these cotton balls into different nooks and crannies of the room. Some people even plant mint plants along the periphery of the house or store. It is said to work wonders.
Other strong smelling substances that can be used as home remedies to get rid of mice and rats are citronella oil and castor oil. Onions also help. The way to use onions differs slightly from the other home remedies. Slice the onions in fine slices and place them at strategic locations. Don’t try to use the juice. You can even keep a piece at the entrance of one of the rat holes.
– The feathers of an owl
Owls are birds of prey and their favorite prey is a rat or a mouse. This means that the owl is the natural enemy of the rodents. By dropping a few owl feathers in the vicinity, you spread widespread panic in the minds of the rats and mice. The fear of being attacked by an owl makes them evacuate the entire area. That is why owl feathers make the list of extremely good home remedies to get rid of mice and rats.
– Snake or cat litter
Snake or cat litter works in a similar way that owl feathers work. It alerts the rats and mice that a predator is in the vicinity. Snake litter is harder to obtain and if you really need it then you can try getting it from a zoo nearby. Cat litter is much easier. Another better alternative is to own a cat. Not only will your feline hunt down those pesky critters, the mere smell of a cat will keep the rodents away.
– What is music to your ears will make a rats ears bleed
Rats and mice have very sensitive ears. They don’t like loud sharp noises. In order to use this in our favor many people have incorporated it in their home remedies to get rid of mice and rats. Some people rig up bells and other high pitched instruments to ring continuously. Others just use sound traps. Whenever a rat or a mouse walks past a string it rings a bell.
– Cow dung
I consider this one a messy and stinky home remedy but it works. Gather some dried cow dung cakes and spread it across your yard or garden. The rats and mice will nibble on it. I know! Yuck! But the upside to this is that the cow dung causes their stomach to inflame and they ultimately die. So it is effective but you just need to be okay with using it.
– Pepper spray for rats
I’m not talking about the over the counter pepper spray that you get. I’m talking about a pepper spray that you make as a home remedy to get rid of mice and rats. What do you need? Habanero chilies (1/2 cup), hot pepper flakes (2 tablespoons), buckets, fresh water (1 gallon), a jug and a spray bottle. Ensure that you use protective equipment (gloves, mask and goggles) when mixing this together. Boil the water and mix the other ingredients together using a blender. Put the mixture in the jar and pour the hot water over it. Allow it to stew for a while and then strain it using a cheese cloth. The spray is now ready. Use the spray bottle to spray the mixture wherever necessary.
– Bring out the wool
When we talk of wool as one of the home remedies to get rid of mice and rats we are usually referring to steel wool. Rodents find the steel wool hard to chew on. Roll the wool into small wads and stuff it in the crevices and holes. It will deter the rats from going in and from coming out.
– Find the cloves
Most of us love cloves in our food, in our deserts and the smell of it gives us warm memories. Luckily rats and mice do not share the same sentiment. Like peppermint and citronella, the smell of a clove is pungent and unpleasant to a rat. You can use this to your advantage by crushing cloves and leaving them around the room. If you can lay your hands on a strong clove smelling essential oil then you can use it on a cotton ball.
– Aluminum foil
Yes! Aluminum foil helps keep the rodents away. I’m not really sure what it is about it that the rats and mice don’t like but I’ve narrowed it down to two options. They don’t like the smooth feeling of the foil or they don’t like the crinkling noise that it makes when they walk on it. I guess it links back to the fact that rats and mice do not like noise.
– Setting a trap
I usually hate traps that work on mice because I then have to deal with killing them. If you are skittish like me then you probably don’t like doing it either. So what do you do in such an instance? Leave the rat to starve? Not very humane! I usually relocate the rat far away and then release it. That way I don’t have to deal with the guilt. The world is now teaming with a number of different types of humane rat traps. Read the instructions on each one before you put it to use because each one is different.
There are homemade humane traps that can be used for this purpose. One of my favorite ones just requires a spoon and a bucket. Dab a little peanut butter on the end of the handle of the spoon. For some reason rats love peanut butter! Now balance the spoon on the edge of the table with the bucket positioned under it. As the rat tries to walk on the spoon the spoon will topple and the rat will fall into the bucket. Then presto! You have a trapped rat!
The number of ways in which people have developed their own home remedies to get rid of mice and rats has been increasing. Hopefully in the near future people will begin to see that the use of chemicals is not the answer to the problem. The danger that the use of chemicals pose far outweighs the benefits that they can bring. The home remedies on the other hand have shown their effectiveness. It’s time for a change and only awareness can transform it into reality. Home Remedies to Get Rid of Mice and Rats, we hope you enjoyed it, good luck!
Another pest control article about pest control home remedies, do it yourself pest control, including mice.