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Protecting Your Home from Rodents in the Winter

rodents in winter

As temperatures drop, we dig out cozy sweaters, don fuzzy slippers or socks, fire up the tea kettle and hot chocolate pot, and spend time near the fireplace. We get warm and cozy. Like us, rodents love to get warm and cozy in the winter. They often choose the corners and crannies of your home for this purpose. As if their uninvited presence is not enough, rodents also spread disease. What critters should you watch for and how can you protect your home from common rodents in winter

House Mice

House mice are adapted to our presence. They hide in the walls, attic, and/or basement, venturing out to find food scraps. Though they appear cute and cuddly, these rodents cause property damage (chew through electric wires and/or drywall, spoil food, shred insulation, etc.), trigger asthma, and may carry the hantavirus (which causes serious pulmonary disease). To detect their presence, watch for their droppings, rummaged food, and/or gnaw marks. To keep these rodents out in winter:

  • Keep your basement and attic clutter-free
  • Seal cracks and/or openings on the outside of your house with steel wool or caulk (check windows, roof, doors, foundation, crawl space, attic vents, outdoor faucets, around cable wire, etc.).
  • Seal cracks and/or openings on the inside of your home using steel wool or caulk (check the fireplace, under sinks, washing machines, between wall and floor junctions, inside/behind cabinets, etc.). 
  • Vacuum and clean your home regularly.
  • Store your food and pet food in air-tight containers.
  • Frequently empty the compost pail.
  • Quickly clean spilled food and drink.
  • Keep litter boxes clean.
  • Make sure garbage cans have tight lids. 
  • Stack firewood away from the house.
  • Place traps in possible rodent hot spots.
  • Use natural scent repellents (peppermint, eucalyptus, citronella, chili oil, cinnamon, etc.)
  • Try ultrasonic repellents (available at hardware stores) in basements and/or attics.

When all attempts to discourage mice from entering fail, call a
pest control company. They can help with capture and removal. 


With their slender bodies, large eyes, and bushy tails, squirrels appear cute and cuddly. It’s fun to watch them play tag in your backyard and chitter at the neighbourhood dogs from a safe perch. In summer, they build nests in the upper branches of trees. As winter approaches, they look for spots protected from the weather, often your attic, basement, and/or shed. They can squeeze through a space the size of a golf ball! Once inside, squirrels chew soffits, siding, fascia, shingles, wires, and insulation, causing damage to your home. Fungus and mould grow on their droppings, creating odours and threatening your health. To discourage squirrels from  entering your yard and home:

  • Seal off possible entrances (check eaves, chimney, etc). 
  • Strengthen and/or repair roof edges
  • Clean up tempting food sources (bird seed, pet food, naturally occurring nuts, etc.).
  • Ensure garbage cans have tight-fitting lids. 
  • Cover vents with a mesh screen. 
  • Trim branches within six feet of exterior walls.
  • Plant mint and/or rosemary near your home.
  • Spread natural repellents in your yard (powdered cayenne, chili pepper, cinnamon, etc.). 
  • Get a dog.
  • Use bird feeders with squirrel guards. 

If squirrels do penetrate your home, consult with a pest control agency regarding trapping and releasing
rodents. They have access to traps specifically for squirrel capture and understand local regulations. 

To avoid mice, squirrels, and other rodents in winter, be proactive in locating entrance pathways and blocking and/or repairing them. If they still find a way in, call an experienced pest control company for assistance.  

Have problems with rodents in the winter? Need help with capture and removal? Call One Man and a Ladybug. We’re ready to help!