Rats, Mice, and Other Critters

Remember that poison kills! Rodenticides used to exterminate garden pests such as rats, mice, gophers, and moles can move up the food chain and cause secondary kills of family pets and predators such as owls, bobcats, foxes, and fishers. The improper use and storage of rodenticides can also contaminate soil and water supplies.


Water is what the animals are looking for when they chew the base of plants, so give the critters what they want! Put out bowls of fresh water or use livestock water feeders.

  • Protect the base of plant stalks with plastic pipe, or wire mesh to keep rodents such as rats, mice, and voles from chewing on plants. These are easy solutions that can be implemented long before rodent issues become a problem.
  • Be creative if you have a rat or mouse problem. Try placing a ramp up the side of a trashcan that leads to a length of plastic pipe rigged on a pivot point. Bait the far end of the plastic pipe with a smear of peanut butter. The rat or mouse will walk up the ramp and into the pipe, only to be tipped into the trashcan. These can be live traps (so as not to drown critters you want around) or filled with enough water to drown the rodents.
  • While traps (rats, mice, gophers, voles, etc.) are better than poisons and often very effective, they can also kill or injure critters and pets that are not threatening your garden! Consider using Havahart traps. These are wonderfully effective and allow the user to relocate wildlife instead of terminating it.
  • To defend your garden from larger animals, use rabbit and deer fencing or heavy-duty deer fencing. Both of these options have small enough squares to keep out larger animals.
  • Avoid using plastic bird netting as a critter fence. It can kill snakes, birds, and other wildlife that easily become entangled in it.
  • Deterrents such as volatile oils of balsam fir and peppermint can be placed on cottonballs near plants, or found in products such as Fresh Cab and Mouse Magic and are effective at keeping rats away.