If you have rats or mice in the house, you probably want to rid yourself of the infestation in the fastest, most effective way. Poison may seem like the quickest solution, but it can be lethal to pets, children and even adults.
When disposed of improperly, rodent poison can contaminate the environment, and be deadly to wild animals, as well.
If you think rat poison is the only effective way to take care of rodents, there are plenty of nontoxic, and even non-lethal ways to rid your house or apartment of pests.
Whether you want to get rid of pests in a safe way, or you are more interested in not harming rats or mice during the removal process, you can find a poison alternative to suit your needs. Below, learn about 10 safe and effective ways to take care of rodent infestations without using toxic substances.
1. Essential Oils
One of the best ways to deter rats and mice is to use essential oils with scents that drive rodents away. Peppermint oil is considered to be the best natural repellent when it comes to essential oils. Peppermint is nontoxic to rodents, but their sensitive noses are irritated by the smell. Consider
- Peppermint oil, which has the added benefit of making your home smell pleasant while being a pungent, overpowering smell to rodents.
- Citronella oil, which can have a similar effect on rats, although it may smell quite as strong as peppermint essential oils. However, citronella also works well for repelling insects such as mosquitos, making it a great oil to have around the house, anyway.
- Eucalyptus oil, which is a third option that you can use to keep rats and mice at bay. However, cats are sensitive to eucalyptus oil as well, meaning that you may want to try other alternatives if you have pets in the house.
Using essential oils as a pest deterrent is easy. One of the best methods is to place several drops of oil onto a cotton ball, and place the cotton in an area where you want to drive out mice or rats. One downside is that you will have to continually replace the cotton balls, as the oil dissipates quickly.
2. Unpleasant Scents
Luckily, many of the scents that rodents hate are pleasant to have around your house. Sprinkling cloves or crushed bay leaves in your pantry or other problem areas will help keep mice and rats away. Because the smell will dissipate in time, be sure to brush out the spices, and replace them with fresh ones, when needed.
Dryer sheets with a strong odor can be used to keep rodents out of certain areas, as well. It is easy to stash a few dryer sheets between cushions, in closets, in pantries and in other areas that may have a pest problem. As with any scented deterrent, it is necessary to replace dryer sheets once the smell has gone away.
3. Peppers and Onions
If pleasant-smelling essential oils or spices do not work to get rid of rodents, you can also resort to more pungent odors, such as onion or garlic. Rats and mice do not like the odor of a freshly sliced onion, nor garlic cloves placed in feeding areas. The drawback of using fresh ingredients is that you do not want to leave them out for more than a day or two. As an alternative, peppers, or more specifically, the capsaicin they contain, are equally unpleasant to rodents. Sprinkling pepper or using hot sauce in problem areas can help drive out rodents.
4. Catch-and-Release Traps
Live-catch traps for rats and mice will allow you to capture pests without killing them. If you are concerned about humane pest control, live traps are your best bet. Traps work best when you use an attractive bait such as crackers, nuts, peanut butter, cookies or pet food.
While live traps are effective for catching rats and mice, you have to be careful about where you release pests. Mice and other pests will quickly find their way back into your house if you simply drop them in the backyard. It is recommended that you drop off pests at least a mile away from home. However, you still need to be careful when releasing rats and mice this far away.
While they may not find their way back into your house, you want to make sure you are not releasing them too close to anyone else’s property.
5. Electric Shock Traps
Sometimes, it is simply not practical to catch and release pests on a regular basis. If you need to use a lethal trap, note that some traps are more humane than others. For example, glue traps that cause mice to get stuck lead to a slow death, rather than an immediate one.
Electrocution traps are some of the more expensive traps on the market, but they effectively kill rodents while also making clean-up easy. Most designs allow you to dispose of dead rodents without ever having to touch them, which is more sanitary than other lethal traps.
6. Snap Traps
A snap or spring trap is much cheaper than an electronic shock trap while being equally effective. When you think of a classic mouse trap, you probably have a snap trap in mind. The traditional snap trap design is completely open, which requires you to pick up the trap and release the spring in order to dispose of dead rodents. Not only is this a bit more unsanitary, but the open design can also pose a danger if you have pets or children who could accidentally set off the trap and get injured.
Classic snap traps are usually the cheapest varieties to buy, but there are also enclosed designs that pose a minimal risk of injury to humans or pets. Whether you get an open or enclosed design, always use gloves when disposing of dead rodents, as this will make the process safer and more sanitary.
7. D.I.Y. Traps
If you do not like the design of any conventional traps on the market, there are plenty of do-it-yourself, non-toxic ways to capture rats and mice. Placing bait in such a way that it will trap a mouse in an empty bucket or aquarium is an easy way to make your own live trap. There are also DIY designs of traps that involve drowning mice and rats, but if humanely catching pests is your goal, always make sure the trapping device is empty.
8. Ultrasonic Devices
An ultrasound device can create a pitch that is too high for humans to hear, yet is unpleasant to rodents. While noise is a great way to deal with rodents without using poison, ultrasound is not as effective as other nontoxic methods. For one thing, rats and mice will initially be driven away by the unpleasant sound, but it does not take long for them to acclimate to the noise. If the pests were drawn in by food, they are likelier to come back, despite any high-pitch noises.
Another drawback of ultrasonic deterrents is that these devices can also affect cats, dogs, gerbils, hamsters and other pets. When exposed to these sounds for a long enough period of time, your pet may experience hearing loss.
9. Pets and Wild Animals
Everyone knows that cats hunt mice, but certain breeds of dogs, and even a pet ferret will help prevent mice and rats from getting into your home, while also taking care of those that have already settled in. Ferrets, cats and dogs, such as rat terriers, are great for deterring rodents indoors, but you can also encourage wild predators that will hunt mice and rats before they can make it into your home. For example, setting up nest boxes for predatory bird species, such as owls and hawks, can help take care of the pest problem at its source.
10. Preventative Measures
While traps and deterrents are meant to drive out and control existing rats and mice, there are also a few ways to prevent rodents from becoming a problem in the first place. All of these methods are safe and nontoxic ways to control pests before they even settle into your home:
- Keep food in airtight containers when possible.
- Clean up food scraps immediately, and take out the trash regularly.
- Patch up holes where rodents may have an easy way into your place.
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