Rodent Showdown

Rodents apparently abhor peppermint.

I hate rats.  I hate mice.  Yes, I should love all of God’s creatures.  But I don’t.  Not rats and mice.  If you want to see me turn cold and lethal, mention one of these vectors of contagion, rabies and Black Death.  I don’t want them in my house.  I don’t want them in my garden.  I don’t want them sitting on my trash cans like the two gnarly beasts who stared down my neighbor yesterday morning and said, “WhaddYOU lookin’ at?”

It seems like they just appeared, running along the fence line at night.  But, inaction threw down the welcome mat.  First, we were away for a few weeks (little human activity).  Second, Baxter’s gone (zero predator activity).  He was a gentleman by day, but under night’s shadow he was lethal, like James Bond – the slightly unhinged Daniel Craig version.

I am assessing my little vegetable and fruit garden.  Apparently it looks like an all-night buffet line.  Same can be said about the trash cans, one of which we made the mistake of letting a wood scrap prop open the lid.  That mistake alone was a dinner bell.  The old composter is suspect as a food source, as we haven’t been dumping in food scraps for a while.  I’m nervous about it turning into a nesting spot, since it dried out when we were away on our various family trips this summer.

This I’m rolling in the welcome mat.  Evidently, shutting down the buffet line is making the rats surly as my neighbor attested to yesterday.  And, you know what?  That free-loading attitude really puts me over the edge, because I think I have been more than generous….

  1. The Tree House wood scraps piled tightly (no inviting nooks) and away from the fence line.
  2. Indoor Bokashi system in place to break down food scraps to fermented (and unpalatable) compost before going into the new outdoor composter.
  3. New outdoor composter catches rain water to keep compost moist and unwelcoming to any nesting possibilities.
  4. Sunflowers are coming down.  We’ve enjoyed the yellow finches, but they’ll have to be satisfied with the basil seeds.
  5. Spraying my Peppermint-Castor Oil Spray (recipe below) directly on and around the tomato plants.  I am done with finding a nearly ripe heirloom tomato that “someone” – all verminy with a gross, bald tail – has taken a few American-style nibbles out of and wasted the rest! Don’t even get me started on all of the pears we lost!
  6. The nuclear option:  rat zappers (high voltage traps) going around the trash cans tonight.  We can’t risk the fallout of bait traps – poisoning our neighbor’s dog or the local owl who may happen upon an “easy meal”.  Also, can’t afford any health implications from the droppings to us or the trash collectors.


Peppermint-Castor Oil Spray (makes 2 cups)

To my surprise, this spray is working well on the tomatoes – no bite marks, nothing in the last couple of days.  So, I hope that I don’t jinx myself by sharing the recipe here:

1 tsp of natural produce wash (like Biokleen) or dish soap (like Seventh Generation)

3 Tbsp Castor Oil – food grade is best

45-50 drops of Peppermint essential oil (not the extract found in the baking section)

2 C. Water


In a glass measuring cup, add the castor oil and then the peppermint oil.  Stir with a metal spoon.  Add in the produce wash, then the water.  Stir.  Pour into a 24 oz. spray bottle dedicated for this spray.

Shaking often, spray along home entry points, visible trails, around and on trash cans and raised beds.  I have sprayed on my fruit and so far have not had vegetation die off.  I also spray in the evening, so that the sun won’t burn my plants and the spray is most potent for nocturnal beasties.

Reapply every 3 days and after it rains.  Frankly, I have been spraying every night.  Did I mention I hate rats?

Peppermint Oil Sachets

WP_20150902_003I made sachets to hang from my tomato plants in strategic places.  I still lost a tomato and maybe didn’t have enough sachets and/or in the right spots.  However, you can place these inside the home near known mice entry points (basement or crawl space) though you should patch up these holes first.  Get these sachets in place before fall, when mice are looking for a warm place to overwinter.

Cotton Balls

Paper Seed Envelopes

Plant Ties


Cut a few holes in the envelope with a hole punch or by folding the envelope in half lengthwise and cutting out a “V” in several locations.  Put a few cotton balls in each envelope and add several drops of peppermint oil to the cotton balls.  Poke a hole through a corner of the envelope, then thread a plant tie if you want to tie the envelope to a plant outside or hang inside.  Refresh once a week, if inside; every 3 days if outside.  I try to take down and store the sachets in a zip lock bag if rain threatens so that I don’t have to re-do.

Let me know how these tricks work for you or if you have your own sage advice on deterring these varmints!





What are your thoughts?