Rodent-Proof Your Home

Use these techniques to keep your homestead rodent-proof.

| October/November 2004

Wild Rodent

Daytime rodent sightings, the presence of lots of droppings and chewed access holes are signs of a serious rodent problem.

Photo courtesy Fotolia/

Rats and mice cause more damage inside our homes than any other mammal in the world. They spoil food; spread salmonella, hantavirus and 17 other diseases, and chew essential house parts such as electrical wires. Some species even kill young poultry and other livestock. Phenomenally fertile, a cute pair of mice living in your garage can grow into a gang of 20 or more in only a few months.

But you don’t have to use poisons to keep rats and mice from ruining food stuffs and livestock feed, or taking up residence in your attic. Instead, use the “seal up, trap up, clean up” strategy, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, supplemented with good common sense.

It’s important to understand that not all rodents are pests. Numerous species of small rodents are native to North America, including beneficial grasshopper mice that mainly eat insects. Most rodents prefer fields and woods to human habitats, but the opposite is true of three notorious species uniquely adapted to living around humans: the house mouse; the black, or roof, rat; and the Norway rat. These are the real troublemakers, and the better you know your enemies, the easier it will be to bring them under control.

Lining Up Predators 

Ted Hazen, a third-generation millwright in Norfolk, Va., says that historically, cats have been the primary means of controlling mice in houses and in mills, where spilled grain is a constant rodent attractant. “A good mousing cat will eat 1,200 mice a year,” Hazen says, noting that female cats are usually much better mousers than males. “Like Puss and Boots, a male cat will put on his hat and go out to have fun. The female will stay home to catch the mice.”

Hazen says some cats are more gifted mousers than others, but even great mousing cats may be intimidated by big rats. In California, Tom Stephan uses Jack Russell terriers to catch rats, sometimes in combination with his trained Saker falcon (native to Europe/Asia), which picks up rats as the dogs flush them from their holes. “There is no other dog that’s better,” Stephan says. “They are a top-notch type-A hunting dog.” In addition to being willing to paw through just about anything to get to a rat, Stephan says, his Jack Russells go for the kill. “They’ll grab a rat and shake it until it’s dizzy and can’t bite back, then crush its vertebrae and rib cage.” It sounds gory, but so is removing rats from snap traps.

If you keep a barn cat or rat-minded dog, never scold them for bringing you their prey. And since rodents love pet food, it’s best to feed all outdoor animals in the morning and remove leftovers immediately. Cats and rodent-hunting dogs are great for preventing mice problems because their best talents lie in their ability to detect intruders in their home territory. But don’t expect a cat to bring a large mouse population under control, and it may take more than one dog to get rid of rats. “You need one to stand at one hole, and another to watch the other hole,” Stephan says.

8/14/2016 10:52:19 AM

Have a look at EVD Electronic Vermin Protection systems on YouTube. No traps, baits, biological hazards, ultrasonic emissions and it is effective on rats, mice, slugs, snails, geckos etc.. This is the vermin deterrent system of the future and I believe its use in food preparation areas is destined to become mandatory in years to come.

1/10/2014 12:55:35 AM

Yes, I am one of those who want to make house rodent proof. These steps are the ones that are simply supreme for me.

11/27/2013 6:49:58 AM

Rodent proof your house blog is highly informative and explanatory. I would like to mention that the home should be rodent free and this is going to help.

azbest pest
11/25/2013 3:19:55 AM

Its amazing, looking at the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you provide. I'll bookmark your blog and visit it weekly for your new posts.

10/8/2013 5:50:09 AM

Rodent proofing your house! The weak spot of a house is the "Garage Door" focusing on the lower corners where the weather seal meets the ground, Mice/rodents chew through to there new home. Most State/Gov write ups state to install metal at this location. There is a simple metal fix to this it called the "Garage Door Rodent Guard" Cool Tool!! Check it out. Save yourself a lot of trouble, thousands already have! Happy Rodent Proofing

10/7/2013 12:55:02 PM

I have a small female Amstaff terrier thats insane on mice, shes quick and relentless..her radar is on 24/7 and she will sit motionless for hours waiting for a mouse to pop out again once she has has seen it. Ive come home many times and found mice laying near doorway. That goes for all small vermin and varmints..anything from mice to coyotes, shes on it.

10/6/2013 4:04:37 PM

I'll put my Boxer/Rotty mutt up against any cat when it comes to catching mice. All I have to say is GET IT and she goes into hunt and catch mode. She will also pick it up and remove any mice she caught over night and put them in the yard on command. One night she was trying to catch mice that was stealing her food from her dish and she put bait (kibble) in each corner of the living room as she laid in the center in wait. I shit you not. If only I had a video camera at the time. Train your dog to hunt mice they are natural hunters so why not.

lisa leger
10/6/2013 3:16:49 PM

Years ago I lived in a Trapper's cabin in the forest with my infant son. The place was overrun with mice constantly. I literally could not keep up with them using conventional traps. One day a good friend of mine from the north visited and built me a powerhouse mousetrap that saved my sanity. You take a bucket, and fill it 1/3 - 1/2 with water. Then you take a pop can and poke a hole in the middle of the bottom of the can. You then take a coat hanger and straigten it out, poke the hanger thru the opening in the pop can, and out thru the hole in the bottom of the can. Now the can will revolve and roll on the coat hanger. Then you place the hanger, can and all, over the bucket and bend the ends down so it sits on top of the bucket. You should be able to spin the can on the coat hanger above the bucket. Now you place peanut butter all over the can. You can add oats or sunflower seeds if you like, but I just used the peanut butter. Now place the bucket where you have lots of mice. I put mine in the crawl space under the cabin....and you put a small piece of wood to work like a ladder up the side of the bucket...just up to the edge. Here's how it works: the mouse runs up the ladder to the top of the bucket. He sees the peanut butter on the can, but can't reach it. So he jumps to the can. The can spins, the mouse falls in the bucket and drowns. ~ I was getting 15-20 mouse per day!!! All you have to do is wear gloves, remove the hanger & can, go dump out the bucket, refill with water, and put the hanger & can back on top. You never need to ever touch the dead mice. Believe me when I tell you ......THIS WORKS!!! I am an animal advocate, and I respect life of all kinds, but if you are going to put yourself or your family at health risks, it is far better to be rid of the mice, and they drown fairly quickly, just as they would in a mousetrap. I hope this helps someone, as this literally saved my sanity when I was dealing with mice overload!!! ;)

7/14/2007 11:17:58 AM

Please provide hints of do-it-yourself cleanup procedures for small amounts of rat feces on floor of rented room.

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