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Tag: natural mouse control

Barn Owl Box: The Natural Rat Repellent in Seattle

Are you looking for natural rodent control methods? Well, let us introduce you to the power of the barn owl nest box. Keeping rats and mice out of your home and garden can be an incredibly tedious task. Often we find that rat control options such as rat bait aka rodenticides, only provide short-term control of rodents, not to mention that the toxic substances are incredibly cruel. But, what if we told you there’s a better way to keep the rodent population in your area at bay? In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about barn owl boxes as natural rodent control. 

Here’s Why You Need a Barn Owl Nest Box 

Barn owls are exceptional predators that often go unappreciated. These deadly hunters possess powerful vision and hearing, which allow them to track and kill prey quickly. But, perhaps the greatest feature of this predator is its appetite for rodents. Yes, that’s right! Barn owls love rats and mice, and in fact, in a single nesting season, a pair of barn owls can consume up to 30,000 rats.

Installing your Barn Owl Nest at Home

Installing a barn owl box for rodent control in Seattle home

For this natural rodent control method to work, you’ll need to make the nest box appealing to the barn owls. This might be a particularly tedious task if you live in a busy Seattle suburb. So, here are our top tips to consider when installing a barn owl nest in your backyard.

  1. A Good-Sized Nest Box: Barn owls require adequate space to nest and grow their young. We recommend creating a nest box that is anywhere from 10 to 15 cubic feet. Entry holes into the nest box should be a minimum of 6 inches. 
  2. Keep it Attractive: Adding straw and untreated natural fibers in the box will encourage barn owls to begin nesting.
  3. The Right Placement: Barn owls prefer to hunt rodents in big grassy open fields. As such, we recommend installing your barn owl nesting box with the opening facing a wide open space. An ideal position protects the entry hole from the wind while offering a great view of prey.
  4. High Above: In the wild, barn owls nest high up on buildings, trees, or mountain cliffs. So, make sure to place your nest box at least 10 feet above the ground. 

Don’t want to build a barn owl box yourself? Don’t worry we sell the perfect pre-made barn owl boxes that are sure to attract some owls to your property. Make sure you reach out to us to learn more!

Do Fake Owls Keep Rats Away?

Yes! Installing fake owls around your property can act as a great rat repellent. It’s a great little trick that works similarly as a scarecrow on a field, although they do become less effective over time as rats outsmart the decoy. That being said, it’s not the best natural rodent control method as it does not reduce the rodent population on your property like a real owl would. 

3 Reasons for Humane Pest Control

Installing a barn owl nest box isn’t the only way to control your rodent problem. If you’re interested in learning more about natural rodent control methods in Seattle, check out our top tips

  1. Rodenticides kill animals slowly. Did you know that rat bait kills rodents slowly? These poisons result in coagulopathies, which means that the animal will die slowly from uncontrollable bleeding. 
  2. Rodenticides can harm your pets and owls: Rat bait toxicity is a common problem seen in companion animal medicine. It often occurs due to a dog or cat eating either the rat bait directly or eating way too many mice that have consumed rat bait. Wild animals like our American barn owl can also die from rat bait toxicity when they consume large amounts of poisoned rats or mice. So, keep your pets and wildlife safe by avoiding rodenticides. 
  3. Barn owls provide better long-term control: Barn owls that nest in your nest box will continue to nest on your property each season. It’s a great way to reduce the overall rodent population on your property and acts as a long-term rodent repellent. 

Parker Eco Pest Control: Natural Rodent Control in Seattle 

Controlling those pesky rodents is tricky! But, you don’t have to do it alone. At Parker Eco Pest Control, we proudly support customers who choose natural rodent control methods. We can help you create and install the perfect American barn owl nest box, so you don’t have to worry about getting the niggly details right. Correctly installing a nest box to suit the barn owls’ natural behavior is critical to ensure adequate rodent control. So, reach out to us today to learn more about finding and installing barn owl boxes for pest control in Seattle. 

Checking your log home for rodents

Log homes are beautiful and unique structures that come with unusual maintenance challenges. Four generations of the Parker family have enjoyed a log home on the Washington peninsula and we’ve learned that proper maintenance is key. Log homes are often more susceptible to rodents, crawling insects, and wood destroying organisms, especially when they are used as vacation homes instead of a primary residence. Today we’re doing a deep dive on the scariest threat to your log home and your family’s health – rodents.

Looking for rodent activity

With the risk of transmitting Hantavirus, rodents are the most dangerous log home pest you might face. They can enter the home at any time, but the highest risk for activity is when the home has been sitting vacant over the winter. Mice and rats are driven inside by the cold weather and can gather in large numbers if humans aren’t around to kick them out. If you are opening the home for the season follow these steps to inspect for rodents:

  • Follow your nose. If you open the home and smell urine, you’ve definitely got a rodent issue. If it seems pee-free then continue down this list and conduct a deeper search.
  • Look for droppings in the kitchen and closets. Mice love tight spaces with food and bedding. Check the corners of drawers, the bottom shelf of the cabinets, and anywhere else that is dark and secluded.
  • Check for nests. As with droppings, closets are a favorite spot for rodents to gather fluffy material and make nests.  Some less obvious nesting locations are inside of furniture such as the underside of a couch, inside of mattresses and pillows, and tucked away in heating ducts.
  • Identify rub marks. Mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime. Sometimes its tough for humans to find these tiny holes. Lucky for us, mice are creatures of habit, meaning they use the same “roads” often. The little highway across your kitchen window sill can get stained with rub marks as the mice shuffle along the wall and around corners. These dark, greasy smudges are a classic sign of an infestation.

Mouse poop and Hantavirus

If you find evidence of rodent activity you should assume that the droppings contain Hantavirus and follow safety precautions. Hantavirus is carried by deer mice and is fatal to 36% of people who catch it. Sadly there is no way to know what type of mice were in your home. Even if you find a house mouse carcass you can’t guarantee there were not also deer mice present.

The key to cleaning up safely is NOT breathing in particles. Spray everything down with a water/bleach mixture since damp particles won’t circulate as freely as dry ones. Wear a mask and gloves. Bag all the rags and throw them out. Do not vacuum or sweep since it stirs up dry particles.

Sealing holes and trapping

How to get rid of Mice Naturally
Download our free ebook “How to get rid of mice naturally”

The last step is preventing mice from entering your home moving forward. We recommend our free eBook, The Complete Guide: How to Get Rid of Mice NaturallyIt’s packed with tips for sealing holes, everything you need to know about traps, and lots of photos for the DIYer in all of us.

One aspect of mouse control that is specific to log homes and not covered in the eBook is chinking. Gaps in chinking are an extremely common method of entry for mice. Be sure to visually inspect your chinking from the interior and exterior, preferably on a ladder. Given the rounded shape of a log it can be difficult to see gaps from the ground.

Wondering how mice fit through the chinking? Check out this experiment:

Preventing rodents

The two best things you can do to prevent rats and mice are 1) Keeping up with all recommended maintenance and 2)Living on the property year round.

Log home maintenance can be a DIY affair for the brave at heart but some jobs require an expert. The Parkers use Madrona Log Homes for log home maintenance because they’re dependable, local, and use eco-friendly materials. Who knew walnut blasting was so cool to watch?  Tell the owner Travis that we sent you!

The second recommendation is often impractical for home owners. But if someone is living in the home it’s very easy to spot problems and head them off early. You’re unlikely to develop a large deer mouse infestation if there is constant human oversight.

Feel free to call or email us if you have additional questions about keeping your log home pest-free.

How to Get Rid of Mice Naturally: The Complete Guide

A preview of the free ebook: The Complete Guide: How to get rid of mice naturally
Download the free eBook

This comprehensive ebook will tell you everything you need to know about getting rid of mice in your house using natural, poison-free methods. A printable PDF version is available for free download.

Looking for specific info? Jump to a step:

  1. Make your house less attractive to mice (risk factors & tips)
  2. Seal up your house (how to find & seal holes)
  3. Trap mice already in the house (trap varieties, placement & more)
  4. Natural mouse control outdoors (owl boxes & automatic traps)

Step 1. Make your house less attractive to mice

en skirting and a dirt crawlspace

Common risk factors for mice

  • Dirt crawl spaces
  • Vacant structures nearby
  • Vegetable gardens
  • Rock retaining walls
  • A deck or porch up against the house
  • Greenspace next door
  • A poorly maintained home on the block (we know you know the one)
  • A chicken coop nearby

It’s like the old adage, “You don’t have to run faster than the bear, just faster than your friend.” You don’t have to make your house mouse-proof, you just have to make it less attractive than your neighbor’s house. Mice will go where it’s easiest to get water, food, and shelter.

Natural ways to reduce interest from mice…

Keep mice out of trash
Bungee your garbage bins to keep the lids snug
GlassCanisterMice
Seal food in airtight containers like glass canisters
WoodPilesAttractMice Clear a 1 foot perimeter around your house, including brush, wood piles, rockery, etc.
Birdbathwatermice
Remove standing water like bird baths
DogpoopattractsmiceClean up dog poop since it is full of protein, carbs, and other things mice like to eat
BirdseedattractsmiceKeep bird seed off the ground by investing in a rodent-proof bird feeder and installing it at least 6 feet from “launch pads” like fences or trees
BerrysattractmiceTrim fruit trees and berry bushes on the bottom and sides to prevent rodents coming up for a snack

Step 2. Seal up your house

How to find mouse entry holes

Check your utility lines to ensure pass-through holes are snug:

  • Sink supply and drain lines
  • Plumbing stacks on the outside of the house
  • Gas lines coming into your kitchen or laundry room
  • Electrical lines, particularly through exterior walls

Verify all utility vents have tight wire mesh and snug pass-through holes:

  • Dryer vents
  • Bathroom fan vents
  • Kitchen fan vents

Weather-proof your doors:

  • Garage doors should have weather stripping to close gaps
  • Cracks in concrete pads (such as the area below your garage door) should be filled for a seamless seal with the door above
  • Exterior doors should hang plumb and square so they seal tightly

Scope out your roof for easy access points, then double down on wire mesh:

  • Dormers have complex joints between shingles, fascia boards, and windows that require precise cuts to stay mouse-proof. Time and poor craftsmanship can create gaps.
  • Attic vents are necessary to keep moisture at bay but can decay with time. Wasp nests, bird nests, and other animal activity can also puncture your vent grates.
  • Chimney caps are metal boxes that cover the hole at the top of your chimney. Check yours for gaps or rust. If you don’t have one, buy one for less than $100.

How to install wire mesh for mouse-proofing

Wire mesh with 1/4 inch holes and large headed screws

Select your wire mesh: Pick a mesh with quarter inch holes and make sure it’s easy to bend. We recommend galvanized mesh since it has a special coating to resist rust, making it last longer. You can buy products like this at most hardware stores for about $10. 

Select your screws: The ideal screw for installing mesh has a large head so it doesn’t pass through the holes in the wire. Again, we recommend galvanized screws to resist rust. Try to keep the length to about an inch and keep the diameter to a minimum. Using a oversized screws means making oversized holes in your house.

Installing your wire mesh: Cut a section of wire that extends at least an inch beyond the edge of the hole in all directions. Bend the wire so it fits snuggly inside the corner or around edges. If there is slack in your mesh the mice will simply push under it. Anchor the mesh with screws, about one every four inches. When on your roof, DO NOT anchor directly into your shingles or you risk creating a leak.

Can you use spray foam or steel wool instead of wire mesh?

Yes, but we don’t recommend it.

Step 3. Trap mice already in the house

There are two key factors in making sure you’ll get rid of mice naturally– picking the right trap and placing it properly. No matter what type of trap you use we recommend baiting it with peanut butter. It’s cheap, natural, and incredibly tempting to mice.

Poison sketch

Why you shouldn’t use poison baits

By far the most common type of mouse bait is an anticoagulant rodenticide. That’s a fancy way to say that it thins the animal’s blood, causing them to bleed out and die slowly.

  • It’s cruel to kill the animals slowly over time.
  • Poison has terrible consequences for predators that eat mice like urban owls and your neighborhood cat.
  • The mice die in your walls. Some pest control companies claim the mice become thirsty, seek water, and then die outside. This is nonsense.

Get more information on the negative impacts of rodenticides from the  Audubon Society.

Owl image is courtesy of the Audubon Society

So why are poison baits so common?

Traditional pest control companies rely heavily on poison bait because it is cheap and any employee can do it without training. Setting out a bait box is faster and simpler than doing an inspection, sealing entry holes, and setting traps in strategic locations.

Types of all-natural mouse traps

T-Rex snap traps are reliable, humane, & reusable

Best natural mouse trap

The plastic T-Rex snap trap from Bell is a highly sensitive trap with interlocking teeth. They are much heavier than a traditional wooden trap so they stay put. You can also wash and reuse the traps indefinitely, so they are more eco-friendly than disposable traps. The plastic teeth have a lot of force, making for a quick and humane death. The traps have small holes in the base so you can feed a zip tie through and secure the traps on vertical pipes and beams. Parker Eco Pest Control uses these traps exclusively (and no, they didn’t pay us to say that!).

Wooden snap traps are tough to set properly

Victor snap trap

Victor mouse traps are the stereotypical trap you see in the movies baited with a piece of swiss cheese. Setting these traps involves pulling back the pin carefully, setting the bait, and putting it in the right spot without triggering it. They’re pretty finnicky and go off without catching a mouse often, especially compared to the T-Rex.

Glue traps can be cruel

Natural glue mouse trap

Glue traps come with a lot of well-deserved horror stories. Mice have been known to languish in the glue, starving to death. They sometimes chew off their own legs to free themselves. If you opt for a glue trap we suggest you use it ONLY under close supervision. As soon as you catch a mouse you should either:

  • Put on gloves and wipe the mouse down in olive oil to free it from the trap. Set it free outside.
  • Fill a bucket with water and drop the mouse and attached trap in for a quick death.

Live traps require daily supervision

Live natural mouse trap

If you can’t bring yourself to kill a mouse you might lean towards live traps. Simply place a tasty treat inside and let the door snap shut once the mouse is inside. Traps like this MUST be checked daily or you risk leaving a mouse to die slowly from starvation – this is far worse than a quick death from a snap trap.

Where to set mice free

Washington State law (and many other states) does not allow for relocation. That means you cannot release the mouse in a local park a mile away. Your best bet is releasing it back on your property and hoping you did a good job sealing up entry holes in your home.

What if the mouse isn’t dead?

Sadly, mice can sometimes set off a trap with a foot instead of their head. The humane thing to do is put the animal out of its misery
immediately. We recommend filling a bucket with water and placing the animal—trap and all—into the water until it drowns.

Where to put the traps

The simplest solution is putting traps where you find the most evidence of activity like droppings, urine smells, or rub marks.

Rub marks from a rodent

There is some finesse to how the traps are positioned. Mice are neophobic, meaning they are suspicious of new things. You need to make it as easy as possible to stumble into the trap. Look for narrow paths next to walls and hidden corners. Do not waste your time by simply opening your attic door and setting a trap on the open space inside.

Graphic on how to place natural mouse traps
Diagrams are courtesy of the
Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management

Step 4. Natural mouse control outdoors

An automatic trap from Good Nature

Automatic traps

The A24 from Goodnature is a self-resetting trap that kills 24 mice with a single cartridge. Set it up outside, sit back, and wait. Parker Eco Pest Control will gladly install one.

Owl Boxes

Owls eat as many as 12 rodents a night! Installing an owl box gives you about a 50% chance of getting an owl every nesting season. Learn more about owls for natural mouse control on our blog.

Do you have questions or suggestions for improving this piece? Let us know! Email Info@ParkerEcoPestControl.com