Strange scuttling noises in the night, curious gnaw marks on random items, a musty whiff in the air. All these could be signs of mice or rats in the house. These rodents will find any excuse to enter your home, particularly if they think it might be a safe, warm place to sleep (and grab some food in the process).

Fortunately, there are ways to make your home less appealing to them. Namely, by figuring out what attracts mice and rats, removing their temptations and reducing all chances they have to get in your home. We’ve outlined a few pointers to help you mouse-proof or rat-proof your home.

How to stop mice from getting in the house

Due to their small size and soft skeletal structure, mice are capable of squeezing into the smallest of gaps to get into your home. If you are worried about rodents entering, it could be a good idea to inspect the outside of your property to identify any potential entry points. Once you’ve found these possible entry points, seal any cracks in the foundations, openings in walls or utility pipes with steel wool and caulk. Avoid using any material that mice can gnaw through.

Can mice climb walls?

It’s not just holes that these agile rodents can use to enter your home. But you may be wondering, can mice climb walls or leap from branches onto your roof? The answer is yes to both. Mice use their tails to balance as they leap from one surface to another. As long as the surface of your wall is rough, uneven or particularly porous, mice can use their claws to grip onto them.

Can rats climb walls?

The presence of a rat in your home may spark many questions. How do these larger rodents make their way in? Can rats climb walls? The answer to this question is yes – rats are efficient climbers if the surface of the wall is rough enough.

The roof rat is particularly good at climbing and like to gnaw their way through everything, including electricals. Norway rats are another common household rodent and while they are well-known climbers, they aren’t as athletic as roof rats. The main point to note is that while rats and mice have the ability to climb up walls, as long as there is no entry point at the top of their climb, they cannot get into your home. Make sure to block off any potential entry points between the outside wall and the roof in your efforts to avoid rats in your home.

Why are rats such good climbers?

Almost all rats can climb due to the way their hands, feet and tails are designed which allow them to leap both horizontally and vertically. They have five extremely sharp phalanges (or “fingers”) on the end of each hand, which give the ability to easily latch onto any surface. In addition, the pads on their hands have textured skin that help increase friction and grip.

Rats may also use their tails to assist with their balance as they walk along surfaces – almost like a tightrope! – or to wrap themselves around various objects such as cables, cords, wires, branches and ropes, ready to catch themselves if they accidentally slip. These rodents can survive a fall of up to 15-meters, which make them fairly good climbers.

How to stop rats from climbing your walls

Does this mean it’s impossible to stop rats from climbing your walls? Not if you have a smooth surface that rats can’t grip on to. Some surfaces most rats can’t climb include:

  • Tile: tiles have a smooth surface that makes it difficult for rats to scale. Go for smaller tiles to reduce the size of the grouting (that’s one surface rats can grab onto).

  • Glass: rats can’t grab onto glass surfaces, which is why you probably won’t find rats dart across your windows.

Of course, rats can still climb drainpipes, cables and anything else that might be lining your walls, so it’s worth keeping this in mind as you rat-proof your walls.

Can mice jump?

Although mice aren’t as skilled at climbing as rats, they can jump about a foot high in the air, which allows them to navigate over small obstacles in or around your home. This also means they could potentially access your tables, shelves or countertops once they’ve made it across the threshold. Keep clutter to a minimum to avoid giving them platforms they could potentially use to jump from or climb up.

What attracts mice?

Mice are agile enough to scale your walls and crafty enough to find their way around your home. So, it might be worth figuring out what attracts mice in the first place so you can avoid inadvertently inviting them over. A clean, uncluttered home in good repair is essential for keeping mice away.

Here are some additional tips on how to mice-proof your home:

  • Seal all entryways: remove or reduce any gaps in your door frames and fit bristle or brush strips along the bottom to eliminate the gap near the floor.

  • Practice good sanitation: sweep up crumbs immediately, keep worktops clear of food and throw away trash in tightly closed bin bags.

  • Clear vegetation: mice can use hanging branches to jump onto your roof, and shrubs and ivy to climb up your walls. Trim them all back and keep grass mown short to reduce places where mice might seek shelter.

  • Reduce open food sources: make sure food containers are tightly sealed and avoid keeping any of your pet’s food on the floor.

  • Reduce availability of water: remove pet water bowls from the floor and clean up any spills as soon as they happen.

What smells do mice hate?

As well as eliminating what attracts mice to your home, you might want to think about other barriers you could put up. So, what smells do mice hate and how effective are they at repelling the unwelcome rodents?

Unfortunately, while some limited research has suggested ammonia, mothballs, chilli oil and peppermint oil could be possible mouse deterrents, the first two can be dangerous to have in the home and they all tend to be ineffective when put to scientific testing. Your best bet to dealing with a mouse problem is to use baits, traps or poisons to catch them before they venture too far into your home.

What smells do rats hate?

When it comes to making your home as uninviting to rats as possible, there’s no question that baits and poison have been proven effective – however, getting rid of all smells that might attract them should be your first step. Make sure to keep food and bins covered with tight lids, as well as any pet feed.

You could also go a step further by replacing these rat-attracting smells with ones that may repel them. So, what smells do rats hate? A few common ones include:

  • Chemical smells: many chemicals repel rats, although some – like mothballs and ammonia – may be toxic to humans, too.

  • The smell of predators: common rat predators include cat, ferret, stoat or raccoon with rats likely to stay away from anywhere that smells like these bigger animals. Of course, not all of these animals can be found in Australia and imbuing your home with the smell of predators (or their urine) might be a tricky task.

  • Peppermint or bergamot: limited research has suggested that peppermint oil may be effective in keeping rats away.

  • Citronella: also known to potentially repel mosquitos and other flying insects, citronella may deter rats by interfering with their sensory organs.

  • Eucalyptus: some rodent repellents use the scent of eucalyptus due to its ability to repel house rats – although you’ll probably need to spray your home with the oils every other day for it to be effective.

Unfortunately, these smells are only temporary deterrents to keeping rats and mice away. One of the most effective ways to keep your home rodent free is to use an effective, purpose-built trap like the Mortein Dual Action Mouse Trap, or baits and poisons such as the Mortein Rat & Mice Duel Action Baits or the Mortein Rat & Mouse Dual Action Throwpacks.