We know how they look, what they do, and how they can devastate sheds. But we rarely see them in action because mice and most rodents are nocturnal creatures, which means it’s hard to catch them in the act.
If you’ve got mice or rats infesting your shed, here are 7 ways you can keep them out:
- Take away their food.
- Clear away their homes.
- Close your doors on them.
- Use glue boards and traps.
- Hire a professional.
- Get a cat.
- Clean your shed and organize your tools.
Rodents are tough to deal with, especially when you’re trying to protect a shed that is typically more exposed to the outdoors than the average home is. This article will help you deal with them, as we’re going to walk you step-by-step through each of the prevention methods listed above.
Mice, Rats, and Rodents as Pests: a Brief Overview
Rats travel far from their nest to search for food, while mice rarely go beyond 25 feet. When there’s enough food in an area, mice won’t leave their nest and will keep populating until it goes out of hand. Add that to improper maintenance of most sheds that people often leave unorganized for weeks.
There are rats and mice wherever you go; in your house, sheds, forests, and fields. But if you’ve seen one, it’s most likely one of the three species that live with people: the house mouse, roof rat, and Norway rat.
These three species have caused more household damages than you could imagine! So if you’re dealing with a persistent rodent infestation, you’ll have to take extreme measures to deal with it.
Did you know that an irresistibly cute pair of mice in your shed can grow into a community of 20 or more within a month, and could potentially reach a million in a year? In humans, the menstrual cycle lasts for approximately 28 days, but that’s too slow for mice. Starting at two months old, a female mouse goes through the same process (estrous cycle) every 4 to 5 days 1!
So if you want to keep mice and rats out of your shed, you have to do it regularly, until there’s nothing left. A one-time “Mission: Eradication” simply won’t work. Plus, you have to work on a few things to keep them out of your shed for good.
Signs You Have Mice/Rats or a Different Rodent Infestation
Before we start with the ways on how you can keep them out, let’s first figure out whether you have a rodent infestation. It’ll be such a waste if you take extreme measures to keep mice and other rodents out when they’re not in your shed in the first place.
So, here are the most common signs that you have a rodent infestation:
- Droppings – these are the biggest tell-tale sign that you have rodents in your shed. Mouse droppings look like black rice grains, while rat droppings look like raisins. If you have an infestation, you’ll find these droppings close to the most accessible food sources.
- Burrows – check for burrows around your shed that rodents can use as habitat or a means of moving from one place to another. It can be anywhere, but if you suspect that you’re dealing with an infestation in your shed, it’s most likely that you’ll find one nearby.
- Small holes in the wall – that little hole in the wall where mice and rats live that’s not fictional! Although not as prominent, these small holes with chewed edges is a tell-tale sign that you have unwanted tenants in your shed. Check the walls, doors, ceilings, or other places that rodents can use to get to a food source or inside your shed.
- Scratching and gnawing in the walls – Mice don’t come out when the cat’s away, no. Instead, they’ll go out at night and start chewing anything that they can. Unusual scratching and gnawing at night is another sign that you have an infestation in your shed. The damages may not be apparent overnight, but it’ll start to manifest as more and more rodents gnaw on your property.
- Items that have been chewed on – if you’re noticing a lot of chewed paper, boxes, or cloth, then mice are probably building their nest or worse, they already have it. You’ll often find these in containers, toolboxes, and drawers. Some owners tend to ignore it because they often look like lumps of materials collected in one place.
You may notice one or more of these signs in your shed, but sometimes, nothing! If there are no signs that rodents are in your shed, but you still suspect them to be there, a “track test” is your best option. Since rodents go out at night, it’ll be impossible for you to monitor their movement. But with this technique, you’ll get a definitive answer, and even find the places where they’re hiding.
To start your track test, sprinkle flour or talcum powder throughout the shed, especially in areas that are ideal for rodents to build nests. Leave a cracker, peanut butter, or any food at the center of your shed. If you have a mice infestation, it’ll most likely show up in tracks the next day, and will show you where their nests are.
If you wake up the next day with tracks, then you’re dealing with mice infestation, and you need to act fast to evict them out of your shed!
How to Keep Mice and Rats Out of Your Shed
Rats and mice are curious creatures. Even with poor eyesight, they can open garbage cans and dumpsters, and go through sewers with their excellent sense of smell and touch. But mice and Norway rats don’t go too far from their nest. One study from the University of Georgia and Warnell revealed that Norway rats spend their lifetimes within an area of 100 to 150 feet in diameter2.
If you see one in the flesh, the odds are; they’re already nesting in your shed. After all, it only takes less than a week for mice and rats to double in number. So it would be best if you can use different techniques to get rid of these rodents in your shed and practice various measures to keep them out for good.
1. Take Away Their Food
Rats and mice eat almost anything — grains, seeds, nuts, cereals, meat, fruits, pet food, and candies. Whatever comes their way, they’ll eat it. Mice don’t like building their nests in places where food is scarce, so removing any food source in your shed is the first step in keeping them out.
If you have a garbage can, keep it tightly covered at all times. Throw away all kinds of foods that you may have munched on while working in the shed, and keep pet food stored safely.
A food source readily available for mice won’t lose overnight, though. They like taking small bites and will go back and forth at least 20 to 30 times every night to forage on whatever they find. Being curious creatures with this habit, you can be sure that they know the ins and outs of your shed more than you do.
So before you start working on other ways to get rid of mice and rodents and keep them out of your shed, it would be best to start dealing with the cause of the infestation. The more you deprive them of their basic need, the more likely they’ll move their nest to another location.
2. Clear Away Their Homes
Humans always go back to their houses, and you can expect rodents to do the same. They have their nests inside your shed, and they’ll go back to it every night, populate, and continue to wreak havoc.
Destroying where they live is an excellent way to start your operations. Imagine force evicting your unwanted tenants, and keeping them out for good. Remove trash, unused boxes, old boards, containers, brush and rock piles, firewood, and other unnecessary junk in your shed.
Decluttering is more apt because the more junk you have in your shed, the more places they can hide and reproduce. Once you’ve rid of their food source and habitat, there’s almost no reason for them to be hanging out in your shed, and it’s time to make it rodent-proof!
3. Close Your Doors on Them
Getting rid of their food source and habitat is not the endgame. You may have evicted these rodents, but they’ll be back as soon as they think it’s safe to rebuild and if they find new food sources. One way to prevent this from happening is to close all holes that rodents can use to get inside your shed.
Every opening in your shed is a potential access route for rodents. Seal the holes under the door, cracks on the wall, and crevices on the floor. Seal floor drains tightly, and caulk the pipes, wires, and vents. It would be best to cement small holes, but stuffing it with steel wool might also do the trick.
Remember that burrow is one tell-tale sign that you have a rodent infestation? If you’ve seen one, seal it! Keep monitoring it, because you’ll know that they’re back if it reopens. Remember, they reproduce fast, so if you missed it for a week, you’d be dealing with a new cluster.
With proper tools, this task will be easy, but it needs to be thorough. One small hole that you miss in your shed is a potential access point for mice to rebuild their nests and start reproducing. It would be best if you can apply another layer of paint on your wall, door, and floor for added protection.
4. Use Glue Boards and Traps
You’ve taken away their food and habitat, you closed your doors on them, but there are ones that’ll slip through the cracks that you might’ve missed. In cases like these, glue boards and traps are the most cost-effective way to keep mice out of your shed.
It’s excellent for rodents that are in search of food — small or big. Glue boards are perfect for mice and traps for rats. You can’t interchange them, and in some extreme infestation, you’ll need a combination of multiple glue boards and traps all over your shed.
Sheds with a severe infestation that has been going on for years may require a more extreme approach.
Unlike rodenticides, glue boards and traps catch the rodents and keep them in place. You don’t have to worry about the smell inside wall voids and other inaccessible areas in your shed once the job has been done.
When placing traps, make sure that it’s accessible for rats and mice — especially mice, because you can’t expect them to travel long distances just to find food. With enough stash in the area, a mouse can stay in one location for weeks without venturing into unknown territories.
Check out these traditional style traps from Authenzo if you’re going this route.
5. Hire an Expert
The best thing you can do is hire an expert who will come in and use rodenticides if the infestation is large enough.
Rodenticides are highly effective in controlling rodent infestations but are best handled by professionals who can offer you the proper guidelines to get the best results. They’ll advise you on the best safety procedures to make sure things are done properly (like keeping everyone away from the shed).
Rodenticides do carry a considerable disadvantage — they don’t keep rodents in one place. In most cases, mice and rats will wander around your shed, possibly hiding in inaccessible areas when the expert’s plan is executed. Some experts will use specific traps in conjunction with bait.
If there are no traps, it’s all well and good, but not a cause for celebration because, after that, you’ll have to deal with the awful smell. Rodents don’t like the idea of hanging out in open areas, so you’ll have to look for them after the fact in places that may be tough to reach after 1 – 2 days.
A locked shed with no wall voids or minimal inaccessible places is perfect for using rodenticides. It’ll keep rodents in open areas and make cleaning a bit easier (make sure you inquire about cleaning procedures with your professional).
6. Let Your Cat (or Dog) Do The Work!
Of course, we can’t expect you to watch over your shed every time to keep the rodents out, so you might need a helping paw. Cats have been the primary means for rodent control for centuries, and have remained the most efficient way to keep them out.
Cats love to hunt for field mice. It gets the job done and is great exercise for the animals and helps them tune their natural instincts.
Cats aren’t your only option, though, because even the most effective mousers may be intimidated when they face rats of their size! Jack Russell terriers are an upgrade for cats, as they are fantastic field dogs. But, you can’t deploy these hunters to do population control. You should only have them once you’ve had the infestation under control OR before one even starts.
If you’re employing these helping paws, make sure that you don’t scold them for bringing you their prey. They expect you to be happy with it and show them that they did a great job of hunting rodents. This helps reinforce that they should continue to do what they’re doing!
7. Clean Your Shed and Organize Your Tools
When you have everything under control, the last thing that you need to do to keep them out is to keep your shed organized against rodents. By this time, you should’ve sealed all holes that are over .25 inches in diameter, secured every pipe, fixed all wires, and covered all possible entry and exit points in your shed.
Practice proper sanitation in your shed. I know, it’s a shed, but it doesn’t have to be messy. Mice can survive in small nests with minimal food sources.
Organize your tools and get rid of all possible nesting grounds for rodents to prevent them from rebuilding, in case they decide to come back. As long as your shed remains a preferable nesting ground for rodents, the infestation will persist.
Wrapping Things Up
Dealing with rodent infestation requires the consistent implementation of different measures. Remember, trapping is the most cost-effective method to control population, but proper sanitation and management is the best preventive method that you can use for your shed.
With their ability to reproduce exponentially, it’ll only take a month before things start to get out of hand. Having a barn cat or mouse dog is an excellent way to keep rodents out, but it’ll still require you to close all possible entry and exit points to and from your shed.