So you think you may have rats or mice in your garden, greenhouse, or indoor growing space? While this is one of the more common pests to confront, rats and mice are also known to be especially difficult to eradicate. They thrive in close quarters with both human and other animal predator species and are not easily prevented by foul scents or sonar or light devices, despite many advertisements claiming otherwise. Read on to discover our best tried-and-true methods of getting rid of these critters for good.
Need to know…
- Rats and mice thrive in close quarters with predator species.
- Many advertised rodent-repellent products (such as sonar or light devices) do not work.
Dealing with a Rat & Mice Problem
Rats and mice are known to be resourceful creatures who can infest and essentially take over an entire area within quite a short period of time. With a gestation period of only three weeks and litters that can contain up to fourteen baby rats each, these rodents are capable of outnumbering their human neighbors in literally no time at all. They create tunnels to travel through the garden, and many times eventually end up in the home, potentially carrying disease and often causing a great deal of damage along the way.
Types of Problems Caused:
- Rats have a three-week gestation period and litters can have up to fourteen babies.
- Rats and mice travel via tunnels and often enter homes and other structures (greenhouses, sheds) through very small holes.
- Carry disease
- Tunneling and chewing causes a great deal of damage
Getting Rid of Rats & Mice
Oh, the rodents. We deal with a lot of these little guys. While they’re usually found chowing down on our amendments, they can be quite a nuisance anywhere you find them in your growing area – indoors or outdoors.
Many gardeners and homeowners have purchased and tried out numerous “solutions” to their rodent infestations, only to discover that the best form of eradication is the simplest: setting traps and locating and sealing the rodent’s place(s) of entry, as well as taking care of any unintentional bait, such as accessible food or garbage.
However, most of the commercial products that offer the promise to prevent rodents via high-pitched sound frequencies or light waves have been proven inefficient. The same is true of most repellent scents. The fact is that rats are highly adaptable and they are aware that they are safest within our gardens and homes. They will not leave this safety because of a noise, light or bad smell.
As mentioned, mice, and even the rats, typically enjoy chowing down on the amendments, castings, or compost you have laying around. Rats and mice also love having a warm pile underneath which to burrow. Cleaning up any piles of leaves, dead plants, compost, and mulch, or even gardening supplies can make your area a less desirable place for the rodents to hang out. However, you may also find them chewing holes through your fabric pots and making their way right into your plant’s home!
Mouse traps have never been handier! Slap a little peanut butter on the trap, set it and forget it until tomorrow. Seriously, just keep setting the traps and catching more and more mice. There are a variety of types of traps available, traditional styles and those that provide less clean-up. You can choose which is best for you.
Of course, you can also start moving your gardening supplies into containers that are mice and rat proof too! Find glass jars or thick plastic containers to store your nutrients in. This way, the mice and rats can see, but they can’t touch. You should also utilize this storage method for any other edible items such as your food, chicken feed, or other pet food.
While these storage solutions won’t keep the rats and mice from eating through your fabric pots, it will give them one less reason to keep visiting your growing area. For the fabric pots, we still highly recommend setting mouse traps. They send word back to their buddies and slowly fewer and fewer come back to find food in such a dangerous place.
Get a Feline Friend
Another great option, especially for those experiencing issues outdoors with rats or mice is to get a cat or two. The cats will quickly scare off or catch just about every mouse or rat on your property. Finally, locating and covering the points of entrance around the perimeter of your garden or growing space is key. We recommend building a fence if you do not already have one, and if you do, consider installing hardware cloth around the perimeter of your fence, about six inches below the soil line. This will provide a barrier that the rodents can no longer cross.
Methods for Removal:
- Commercial repellents generally inefficient
- Clean up any piles under which the rats or mice can burrow, and any bait that the rats or mice might be eating.
- Move anything edible including amendments and compost to sealed containers.
- Set traps.
- Get a cat.
- Install hardware cloth around the perimeter of your fence, six inches below soil line.
Through trial and error, we have discovered that combining all of these steps is really about the only way to fully rid your grow area of rats and mice. As always, if you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!