For the safest, most natural ways to get rid of mice, start with the most minimum impact and work up from there.
I have a friend who insists on using only the level of protection necessary in a situation. She refers to gardening with this admonition but it applies to rodent control as well. If she can eliminate mice simply by wiping counters at night, she doesn’t bring out the poison at the first sign of a scurrying critter. If you want natural ways to get rid of mice, start with the bottom level of protection and only move up if that level just isn’t enough.
If mice never come to visit, you don’t have to ask them to leave. Make your house less inviting for rodents. Don’t leave open food where the little critters can access it. That means human food, dog food, chicken food, etc. If they can smell it, they’ll try to get it and will bring other mice.
Keep your food in closed containers. If the mice can get into the cupboards, place anything that’s in plastic or cardboard packaging into rigid containers. If you purchase rice in bulk, first vacuum-seal it in small portions to keep bugs out then place those packages within a tub with a fitting lid. Before you go to bed each night, wipe down counters and sweep floors. Within your garage or greenhouse, clean up any spilled seeds.
Don’t leave open bags of pet food. Purchase latching containers and empty bags into these bins soon after you get home. If you have large or many dogs, buy a 50-gallon trash can. Both aluminum and plastic work, as long as they have tight-fitting lids. Store livestock feed in garbage cans as well. Keep a can beside your chicken coop so food is dry, safe, and easily available. When you lock your chickens up at night, either hang the feeder on a hook high and away from walls or place the feeder within a closed tub or can.
Where do mice hide? Wherever they can, especially in warm and comfortable locations of your home. Keep houses clean enough that mice don’t find places to nest. Insist that children pick up piles of clothing. Mice chew up many different materials to make nests: stuffed animals, cardboard egg cartons, natural insulation, or boxes of fabric.
Try to locate where mice are entering your house. Often it is within the dryer vent, around pipes, pet doors, air conditioner connections, or beneath the skirting of mobile homes. Mice can flatten their bodies to squeeze through amazingly small spaces. Close entry points if you can. Use wood filler or plaster of Paris. If you cannot permanently fill the area, stuff it with steel wool.
Natural Pest-Control Repellents
Peppermint essential oil is often used as a natural way to get rid of mice. It’s one of many peppermint plant uses, and is too intense for the rodents. Either dab cotton balls with 20-30 drops peppermint oil and stuff them in entry points or dry the plant and make herbal sachets. Replace oil or herbs weekly because the fragrance fades.
Clove oil can have the same effect as peppermint. Many rodents despise it. Though it might not work for all of them, this natural solution smells amazing either way. Dab clove oil on cotton balls, or place whole cloves in cracks where mice tend to invade.
Purchase a hot pepper repellent spray or make your own. Add a half-cup chopped habanero (or hotter!) peppers and a few tablespoons hot pepper flakes to a gallon of boiling water. Remove from heat and let sit at least 24 hours. Strain through a cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve. Fill a cheap spray bottle and spritz at openings and entry points. Avoid carpet or white areas because the liquid may discolor. Reapply every few days. Wearing gloves and safety glasses during chopping or spraying helps avoid uncomfortable splashes.
Even if they’re not “natural,” ultrasonic devices are safe for the rodents and members of your household. Available online, at feed stores, or hardware stores, they range from $4 to over $90. The most expensive products carry the best reviews. Small devices attach directly to an outlet and work for rodents and cockroaches. Larger weatherproof units protect gardens from squirrels and groundhogs. And the more pricey units come with guarantees.
Trap and Release
Humane traps are a debated topic. Some people claim they are better because the mouse doesn’t die but others argue that it’s less humane to relocate it away from its environment. Either way, several live traps are available as natural ways to get rid of mice. Prices range from two dollars to over fifty, and the more expensive traps tend to be more effective.
Set an inexpensive trap by setting a five-gallon bucket under a shelf near the infested site. For a no-kill option, rub sides of the bucket with petroleum jelly; for a permanent option, add about six inches of water into the bottom. Smear a little peanut butter on the end of a ruler then lay it across the shelf and the lip of the bucket, leaving almost half of the ruler sitting over the water. When the mice run for the peanut butter, they’ll tip the ruler and fall into the bucket. The mice will be unable to escape the bucket until you empty it.
Cats are an ageless, natural way to get rid of mice. House cats can eliminate mice better than traps do; cats kill mice or simply scare them away, depending on the feline. In many cities, the Humane Society adopts feral cats for free to homes they know will use them for hunting mice. The cat is allowed to live as it has been raised and the owner loses a few vermin. If you adopt feral cats, provide somewhere that they can escape the heat or cold and offer plenty of water.
To quickly eliminate vermin, consider cheap and effective snap traps. Six sell for as little as two dollars and you can get several uses out of each before they break. Snap traps are designed to strike the mouse at the neck for a quick death. Though the huge rat traps are dangerous for human fingers, smaller mouse traps only cause pain if your children accidentally trigger one. But the snapping action can be harmful to small livestock like chickens. If you want natural ways to get rid of mice in your barn or coop, don’t use snap traps unless you can ensure your chickens won’t encounter them.
Rat zappers don’t miss. If the mouse crawls inside, it gets an electric zap which kills it immediately. Though rat zappers cost more at first, many farmers swear by them because their chickens and other small livestock cannot crawl into the device’s tunnel. Mouse-size and rat-size units are both sold in hardware and feed stores, but the rat-sized zappers have tunnels large enough for small children’s hands. Load the unit with high-protein bait such as peanut butter. $40 units, which have moderate reviews, indicate a catch with a red light and kill about 20 mice per set of four AA batteries. For about $500, you can purchase a system of four traps, a USB device, tablet, and range extender, all of which kill about 100 mice per set of batteries and notify you when a mouse has been killed so you don’t have to check traps daily.
Safety for Humans
Mice may be cute but they can be very dangerous. Diseases such as hantavirus and rabies plague these little animals. If you think mice have chewed on your food, don’t try to save it. Discard the damaged container. Do not handle wild mice with bare hands. Use gloves and always wash hands with soap and water after handling traps.
Many natural ways to get rid of mice exist, methods which you can use without ever pulling out the poisons. Start at the bottom and escalate as necessary.
What are the natural ways you use to get rid of mice?