Compassionate Control: 6 Humane Ways to Manage a Rodent Problem


Rats have existed alongside humans throughout history. People provide food and shelter, and rodents will always see an opportunity to share in that safety. However, rats and mice are not exactly harmless visitors. They significantly damage homes and spread infectious diseases. 

Coexisting with rats and mice can be challenging, so many people opt to eliminate them instead. They go to the store and grab the easiest pest control methods to get rid of the problem quickly. However, the most popular techniques, like glue traps and poison, can be cruel and cause rodents significant pain. 

Thankfully, more humane ways exist to keep them out of homes for good. Coexisting with the world includes showing compassion to all creatures, even ones people deem inconvenient, scary or dangerous. 

These pest-control methods minimize rodents’ pain and suffering and discourage them from entering homes. 

1. Seal Food Sources

Discourage rodents from entering and staying in your home by cutting off their food source. Keep your leftovers in thick and air-tight containers. Doing so can help deter rats and extend the shelf-life of your food. Avoid leaving out food or unwashed plates at night. Don’t leave pet food out in the open, especially at night. 

You also need to clean your countertops and floors diligently. Rats are attracted to debris like bits and pieces of food and fruit peels. You should also check some often-neglected spaces, like the bottom of your toaster or the gaps at the sides of your fridge. There may be crumbs that can be hard for humans to see but are easily accessible to rodents. 

2. Clean Your House

Rodents will infest a house if plenty of food, waste and nesting materials are available. That is why making your home unappealing to rats is the best way to keep them out. 

Always keep your home clean and free of litter and piles of junk. Rodents use old fabric, cardboard and wood as nesting materials, so be sure to throw them away. 

Rats will also eat anything, including waste and garbage. Dispose of trash carefully and secure cans adequately to keep rodents at bay. If you have pets, clean up after them regularly. 

You should also check and regularly clean less-frequented areas of your home. Your attic, garage, basement, crawl space or other places can be host to rodent nests because they provide lots of warmth and clutter. According to an American Housing Survey, 39% of Americans have found rodents in their garage, so sweep every few weeks and store items off the ground to discourage rodents from taking up residence.

3. Block Entry Points

Rats and mice only need a small opening to enter your home. Even spaces smaller than an inch can serve as entry points. These openings can come in the form of holes in the wall, cracks in the ceiling and more. 

Prevent rodents from entering your home by sealing all possible access points. Use mesh to cover up vents, open drains, exposed pipes and more. Close cracks and crevices with sealant. It’s best to avoid caulk or similarly soft sealants, as rats can chew through them. 

Finally, look for issues in your entryways. Your screen doors might have holes that should be patched up. There may be gaps you can cover with weatherstripping. 

4. Use Natural Rodent Repellents

Rats and mice are sensitive to smells. You can play this to your advantage by using strong-smelling natural repellents in your home. Here are some that you can use:

  • Peppermint oil: Essential oils like peppermint can deter rats because of their strong, pungent smell. Peppermint oil is one of the most common choices to repel rodents, and you can easily find repellent products in the market. You could also soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and leave them in areas where rats might go. Rub it into room corners and wooden beams.
  • Citronella oil: Research shows that rats avoid food in areas sprayed with citronella oil. Just like with peppermint oil, you can soak a cotton ball and leave it in areas where food is present, like in your kitchen or dining room.
  • Ammonia: Even humans can reel from the smell of ammonia, and rats are repelled by it, too. Ammonia can also cause adverse effects on rats’ respiratory systems. You can soak a cotton ball or leave ammonia in small containers around areas rodents frequent.
  • Black pepper: Black pepper irritates rodents and can be a great short-term solution to keep them away. You can use black pepper essential oil or leave small containers around your home. Remember to replace them regularly.

Remember that you need to reapply these natural repellents regularly. If your home is full of accessible food or waste, rodents might try to endure the smell of these repellents to access it. 

Rats are incredibly smart and resilient. Even though some natural repellents can work magic initially, they can soon find ways to avoid or tolerate them. These solutions might be great as a short-term fix, but keeping your home clean is more important.

5. Capture and Release


Prevention is the best way to keep rodents out of your home. However, there can be instances when rats have become too big of a problem and you must lessen the population immediately. 

The most humane way to do that is through live trap and release. You can find live traps in hardware or general stores. 

Use fragrant and substantial food to attract rodents, and place your traps where they usually pass by. Check them frequently to ensure you’re not leaving a rat scared and hungry for hours.

Once you have captured one, wear thick gloves and release it within 100 yards of your home. Any further and the rodent might die because it’s unfamiliar with the area. However, dropping them off too close to your home can defeat the entire purpose of trapping them — they’ll simply return to the warmth and safety of your house.

An ideal drop-off place would be somewhere safe and wooded near your home, preferably near a water source.

6. Get a Cat

One can argue about the humaneness of using cats to eliminate rodents. Is it really humane if there’s a predator involved? In a way, yes. Cats are rodents’ natural predators, so introducing them to your home can be interpreted as keeping the natural order of things.

Plus, even just a cat’s presence can deter rodents from entering your home. Research shows that the scent of felines and other predators increases anxiety and defensive behaviors in rats. If rodents can smell a kitty in your home, they are unlikely to try and live there.

Share the Earth, Not Your Home

Although a rodent problem can be highly stressful, you don’t need extreme measures to solve it. Rats and mice are part of the wonderful animals that roam this earth. As long as you keep your home free of the things they look for, you can keep them out without causing them harm.

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