8 Tips to Keep the Mice Out of the Stockpile

Have you ever bought a huge bag of flour and stored it in the attic or spare room thinking it would be safe there? Did you go back a few months later and find the bag torn to pieces by rats or mice? If so, then you can readily understand why it is so important to guard your stockpile from mice and rats.

No matter how much you spend on edibles and non-edibles, rest assured that just a few rodents can destroy your supplies in a very short period of time. Typically, to guard everything from candles to herbs, water, food, and even books, you will need a comprehensive plan that includes, at a minimum, the following seven elements.

Avoid Damp or Swampy Storage Places

{adinserter usdeception}Rodents are like any other animal in the sense that they need food and water to survive. When it comes to choosing an area, they will always gravitate towards swampy or moist areas. Therefore, you should avoid these places as much as possible when it comes to stockpiling.

Aside from that fact that excess moisture tends to be destructive when stockpiling, you will have fewer, and smaller sized rodents to deal with when your supplies are located on higher, and drier grounds.

In fact, even if there is a dark, damp area in your home that doesn’t seem to attract mice or rats, it is possible they may pass through without your noticing them. Once they smell food or anything else they consider edible, you will become overwhelmed by them and lose all your supplies.

Keep the Area Clean and Free of Food/Water Smells

The kitchen is one area of your home where rats and mice will gravitate. Since these animals can detect even trace scents of food and water, it is very important to make sure your stockpile remains air tight and clean. This will prevent scents from traveling by air, and also make it easier to cover any traces with other odors that act as deterrents to rodents.

It is also very important to keep the stockpile area free of dust, debris, and anything else that rodents may find useful. For example, piles of newspaper left out can serve as nesting material, while dust and mildew can alert rodents to areas that are quiet and relatively undisturbed. Once they feel safe in an area, they will set up housekeeping very quickly and start multiplying.

Maintain a Constant Presence in the Storage Area

Even though an occasional mouse or rat may be foolish enough to wander into your well-occupied kitchen, they will usually leave as soon as they realize there is too much going on. In a similar way, when you move bins around or disrupt your storage area in other ways, mice will quickly vacate.  As a rule, you should move things around at least once to twice a week while cleaning and carrying out other tasks.

Use Peppermint and Spearmint as a Deterrent


There are certain smells that rodents hate. This includes peppermint and spearmint which irritate their nasal passages.

Simply grow heavy layers of these herbs around the storage area, and also place dried leaves in among the bins.

If you are vigilant about replacing the leaves twice a week, the odor will remain strong enough to act as a deterrent and also help mask the odor of food and water.

Store Everything in Chew Proof Bins

Contrary to popular belief, wood or plastic bins serve as very little deterrent to rodents. They will actually use chewed bits of wood for nesting, and also quickly work their way through plastic. Typically, metal, cement, or cinder block bins are the only ones that rodents cannot chew through.

Metal ammo storage containers work well, and are also inexpensive. You can also solder together metal from tin cans or use sheet metal to construct your own bins. Just be sure to create a tight fitting lid that rodents cannot lift or push to make a hole for entrance.

Keep and Maintain Traps

As common as it may sound, a few simple spring traps work wonders when it comes to getting rid of vermin in a storage area. You can modify the traps by attaching nail boards on the top metal bar so that you have a better chance of catching rodents of different sizes with the same trap.

You should also have one or two larger animal traps on hand just in case conventional rat traps are not large enough for unwanted rodents. Regardless of the trap type, be very careful when setting them, and never let your hands or other body parts get near the trap’s path of motion.

Use peanut butter or flour to attract rodents to the trap, and place them along the wall. Since fairly large rodents may encounter the traps, it is also important to secure the traps to the floor. When traps are set, you should inspect them at least once each morning.

If there are live rodents in the trap, dispatch them with a hammer. This ensures the rodent will not escape and is also more humane than letting the rodent linger for hours on end.

Keep a Few Cats

Survivopedia Stockpile Rodents

If you are going to use traps in the room where you keep stockpiled foods, do not let cats (or other animals, children, etc) into the area where the traps are located.

That said, there is no harm in letting 4 – 6 cats roam outside the storage area.

Aside from keeping mice and rats further away, cats will also go after rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, moles, and just about anything else that might take an interest in your food stores.

Keep a Steel Rod Handy

When you have things stored that are edible or useful to rats or mice, never assume that the area is free of these animals. Even if you do not see animal droppings and you faithfully follow the steps above, it is still possible for rodents to nest.

Unfortunately, it takes only one bit from an infected rodent to cause serious illness or death. Before you stick your hand in a bin, or walk around a corner, use a steel rod to investigate the area and see if anything moves.

Since rats can easily grow to 15 inches in length under the right conditions, it always pays to have a 2 – 3 foot rod on hand to bash it with. Needless to say, if you have a gun available, it will not hurt to have one loaded and ready when you approach your stockpile.

Some Things That Won’t Work in a Disaster

As you read through this list, you may be wondering why poisons and sonic deterrent systems are not included. In a disaster scenario you will already be at a higher risk of contracting diseases. The last thing you want to do is have poisoned mice laying around and acting as a breeding ground for bacteria and other pathogens.

With regard to sonic deterrent systems, they will only work if they have sufficient power. Therefore, if you have no electricity, they will be worthless. By the same token, rodent traps that kill by electrocution will also be useless without power.

When you put money aside each week to build up survival supplies, you may not realize how vulnerable these items are to mice and rats. While deterring and getting rid of rodents is not especially difficult, you will still need to take specific actions on a routine basis and take care to store your supplies correctly. At the very least, these eight methods are tried and true ones that can be used effectively in the field for as long as needed.

Written by

Carmela Tyrrell is committed to off gridding for survival and every day life. She is currently working on combining vertical container gardening with hydroponics. Tyrrell is also exploring ways to integrate magnetic and solar power generation methods. On any given day, her husband and six cats give thanks that she has not yet blown up the house. You can send Carmela a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Latest comments
  • Living in the country in an old farmhouse our furry friends are not strangers. The “sticky traps” work well. Having used Bounce sheet for years to successfully keep mice out of the camper, we decided to try putting it into the pantry. It works well.

    The mechanical traps continue to be used in the poll shed.

    • I’ve used sticky boards in tight locations; but do not like to leave them in place or unwatched for more than a few hours. Larger mice and rats are able to pull off them and then it is harder to catch them. Once I hear them on the trap; I just dispatch them; though.

  • Thanks for the reminder that other creatures want to eat your food supply, too. And thanks for the tips on some ways to keep them away.

    • My next door neighbor moved in about six years ago, She loves cats. We had a 3 foot flash flood. Her family walked the neighborhood and brought home four kittens. needless to say they loved my back yard turned garden. She had all of them FIXED. The cats were some what of a bother( I do like cats just not 12-15). When I heard that people in other neighborhoods had mice and rat problems, I suddenly loved my neighbors cats. I can grow and can from my garden and I do share with my neighbors especially the lady with the cats

  • Carmela,
    I noticed in one of articles you jarred several food stuffs. I would like my wife to learn this art do you have any books on this.

    Eli Torres

    • look at dave’s tactics, and preparedness there is a hole site telling you how to cann everything

    • Good morning!

      I haven’t done any articles on canning – but do love to can just the same.

      Canning isn’t hard per se, but you have to have patience with the cooking process and then take care when sealing the jars after the second heating. It is still a lot of fun and even better when you grow your own fruits and veggies to can. 😀

    • why don’t you learn the art, if your wife is interested let her say so, you don’t get to dictate what your wife learns or doesn’t learn, she is an autonomous person

      • stfu dumb feminazi

  • A few years ago I had squirrels in my attic (literally, not psychologically-)
    I foumd they had chewed a corner of my roof by accessing from an overhanging branch, which I of course (later) trimmed.

    Not wanting dead squirrels in my attic, for obvious reasons, I googled about squirrel elimination.

    The best thing seemed to be flashing strobe lights. No noise, no smell, no toxins, humane.
    I bought a used pair on ebay, and hung them from the ridge at 1/3 and 2/3 the length, and within a few weeks, they were gone (no more little footsteps in the night ). Then I called a roofer who patched the chewed hole with sheet metal under the replaced shingles, and trimmed back the branches.
    It’s been almost 2 years, and no return.
    I left the strobes in place, disconnected of course, just in case

    • Definitely need to put some of those strobes in an EMP proof cage!!

    • We had squirrels in our attic also. I went to a hardware store and asked advice. They had either fox urine or coyote urine in a bottle. They said sprinkle some of this around and the squirrels will leave (along with rats and all other rodents). It worked as I remember.

  • One of the most effective ways of dealing with rodents, which you missed, is cedar chips. The early settlers used cedar chips and shavings to rid themselves of mice, rats, spiders, moths, and many other varmints. I live off grid in the southern mountain desert and find cedar to be a life saver. My goat’s bedding is cedar which keeps mites and ticks from moving in as well as aids in keeping her stall nice smelling. I place it in or under my drawers and food cupboards, all around my engine block of unused vehicles to keep the mice from stripping out all the electrical wiring, it is useful for bucket toilets as a cover for fresh leavings (light and fresh smelling) and in a trailer or motor home it is absolutely indispensable. I consider cedar to be the number one most important aid to varmint control, put it in and they move out. An added benefit is the truly wonderful smell cedar chips can bring to your living environment. There is the occasional mouse that apparently doesn’t mind the fresh smell of cedar, but they are few.

    • I tried cedar chips once and actually wound up with more rodents in the house – but then we were being overrun with several hundred mice and they may just have ingored the barrier en masse for some reason. I do love the smell of cedar though!

      • There is a difference between keep pests from moving in and evicting them. Your existing mice scent told others it was a place with food makes hard to drive them out, and they probably used the chips to nest with. While a place without pests take less to discourage them from moving in.

  • The easiest trap to set, requiring no daily or even weekly checks is the so called
    hillbilly trap”. A 5 gallon bucket works great. Fill 1/2 full of plain water. Over the top, suspend a rod (dowel or stick ..whatever you have) set inside a large plastic pop container. We used a utility knife to open a hole at the bottom so the rod runs thru it. Dab peanut butter on the pop container. Critters climb onto the rod but when they hit the pop container, it rotates and tosses them into the water where they quickly drown. We used this over the winter in a storage unit. I checked it, about every month, often finding 9 or 10 mice in the water. I was really impressed that there was NO odor. The building was set at 50 degrees. Pictures and directions are online also.

    • I caught 135 in one night using this trap during the height of a drought here in Australia. The mice were so hungry for the peanut paste that not a single mouse was left in the goat shed. Just as well because they were starting to run around the goats’ legs while I was milking. My daughter was getting them with an air rifle and the injured mice were being demolished (eaten) by their buddies in less than a minute. We used a tall glass beer bottle with oil surrounding the peanut paste.

      • Fay –

        Yikes – we had about that running in after a huge colony was disturbed nearby. I did it all with 6 snap traps and a hammer. Exhausting work. Those who have never been through a major rodent invasion will never really understand the need to dispatch them as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of disease and food loss.

        Thankyou for your insights on the pail trap – I will definitely see about building one and keeping it on hand should I ever need it.

    • Oh… I wish I’d known about this one a few years ago! I had mice falling into pails of water but never figured out how to make a trap of it. My only concern with this, though is that mice accumulating in water will create a lot of disease if they aren’t skimmed out on a daily basis.

  • You mentioned peanut butter (as everybody else does) for bait on the spring traps. I was having absolutely no luck with it. I did find two ‘killer’ baits during my battle. Dog biscuits and a carb gel for working out. I would take one of the dog biscuits, break off a corner and attach it to the trip plate with a twist tie This way the rat/mouse would have to seriously jack with the trip to get the bait. The gel was discovered by accident. They were terrorizing my supply of it in the pantry so, since they liked it so much, I let them have it. I use the Victor electronic traps and put just a drop or two on the bait screen inside (where they recommend putting peanut butter). The scent seems to last for weeks and the mice can’t resist the stuff. Happy hunting!

    • Flour also works as a lead to the trap. Also – if you use cheese or something more solid, put a string around the cheese and tie it into the bait section. This way, if the rodent pulls on the food, it will spring the trap.

  • As a boy on the farn in Alberta, my dad made a simple and very effective trap for mice. He took a 5 gallon pail., made a framework that had a wooden ramp from floor to top of bucket. He then hinged a board to rest on the end of the ramp extending to the center of the pail. He put tin on the overhang part of this board. The board was balanced, so if you put the slightest amount of pressure on the end of the board covered with tin, it would tip into the pail. He used a small can, like a sardine can, nailed to the end, put peanut butter in the can and he had a verty effective trap. The mouse smelled the peanut butter., went up the ramp onto the end of the hinged board, and would fall into the pail. The hinged board would return to ifs place ready for the next one. This trap can be used as a live trap or if one puts 7-8″ of water in the pail the mice will drown.

    • I definitely need to build one of these. Have not had a major rodent invasion in several years, but do get an occasional mouse that I could test this on.

  • I place used drier softener sheets by entrances to storage areas to keep mice out. It smells like the guinea pig and they are natural enemies to mice ( and possibly other rodents). It seems to be effective since I have had no roent problems, as yet.

    • Do you use any particular brand? I had Snuggle dryer sheets at one point and mice made a nest right in the box.

  • Interesting tips on ridding mice. My cat’s been doing a great job, thank God! But I think of when I might not have a cat and certainly don’t like using poisons. So I’ll be using cedar chips, dryer sheets, buckets of water (!) and anything else I can find. But here’s a story we lived through one winter: Not thinking, we were enjoying a birdfeeder set on a pole in the midst of an embanked honeysuckle hedge. As there were seed droppings and birds feeding on the ground, it turned out that one bird was really a rat with a nice long tail. So that’s when we woke up to discover a whole pack of rats had burrowed all through the bank! Yuck! My husband, at the time, was brilliant in how he handled it. Digging shut as many entrance holes as he could, in the last one he placed a smoke bomb. Well, the beggars were gone in an instant. I still have the bird feeder in the same place, but have never had another such episode. Well…I also have this amazing cat 🙂

  • Hi Carmela,
    I came up with a pretty good way to keep rodents out of both my store room and root cellar, as well as tack room and storage rooms. I pour concrete in the threshold so the door closes tight against the concrete. I like to pour it the height of a 2 x 6, so its 5 1/2″ high. Staple a sheet of plastic to the door so the concrete doesn’t stick to it. You should also pin it to the floor and frame so it doesn’t fall over. Most of my rooms are concrete, so I just hammer drill some holes and bang in some rebar dowels. If the rest of the room is rodent proof, then the number one way critters get in, under the door, will also be rodent proof and your stores will be a lot safer.

  • I have a nifty trick to destroy rodents. It is a small 2 inch teeter tauter that sits on the edge of a bucket one third filled with water. You bait the end of the plank with peanut butter or cheese. A little ramp makes getting to the rim of the bucket easy. The rodent goes out to get the cheese, the teeter tips, rodent falls in the water and drowns, teeter automatic resets and is ready for the next rodent. I’ve caught half a dozen mice, ground squirrels, and/or rats in one day with this trap. You fish them out of the water, feed them to the ravens, and get more the next day. Easy to build, works like crazy, and it is cheap! Sincerely, Raven Guy

  • Two comments: if they can be put where there is sunlight (I know, not ideal mouse habitat) there are solar powered sonic units. I use them to keep the deer from ruining my newly planted trees. Second, “if you have a gun…’ Use a pistol with shot shells (mini shotgun type shells). They come in .45 auto, .44 mag/special, .38/357, .22 rim fire. they seriously increases the chance of hitting the critter and you don’t have to worry about over-penetration.