While we typically only use sheds for storage and handiwork, they should be viewed and treated as an extension of our home.
That means that mice are not welcome. Even though sheds can be full of dust, dirt, and debris, mice pose health and safety risks to us and our surroundings, even if it is a just a shed.
Knowing what a shed infestation looks like and knowing how to prevent/fix one is crucial in keeping your property safe and clean. Keep reading to learn in greater detail.
Signs of a shed infestation
The first thing you need to know about a shed infestation is what a shed infestation looks like.
Believe it or not, seeing a mouse in your shed is not very indicative of an infestation. This is because mice (typically deer mice) can pass through sheds, garages, and barns in the countryside and suburbs without settling down. In some rural locations, mice may have a very high prevalence, and so understand that one mouse in your home or shed may not always mean that you have a problem just yet.
That being said, seeing a mouse in your shed should always be taken seriously. While a mouse in your shed may not be indicative of an infestation, it can be a sign that trouble is right around the corner.
Here are some other tell-tale signs of a shed infestation:
- Droppings – Generally speaking, the more mouse droppings you see in your shed, the greater your mouse problem is. Mouse droppings look like black rice grains, while rat droppings look like raisins. Usually you will find their droppings close to food sources or their nest.
- Burrows – Burrows around your shed mean that mice or other rodents are nearby. If you notice lots of them around your shed, you could potentially have a big problem. Deer mice use burrows to access nearby locations and to nest in, too.
- Small holes and openings – Small holes and openings in the walls, doors, or ceiling of your shed is a red flag. Along with burrows, mice often use small holes and openings as entry points into our private spaces. Do a thorough walkthrough of your shed and take note of all small openings (mice can fit through holes as small as the diameter of a pencil). Fill all openings with steel wool to prevent mice from using them.
- Smell – If you have mice in your shed, the shed will smell like mouse urine. It may take some time for the smell to build up and concentrate, but after a while, you will notice a pungent, musky smell which coms from their urine.
- Scratch and gnaw marks – Mice chew, scratch, and gnaw on anything that they can at night (paper, boxes, cloth, plastics, etc.). While you won’t be able to hear them doing it if you aren’t in the shed at night, you may notice the damage over time. The damage may also not be apparent overnight, but it’ll start to be more noticeable as more and more mice show up and chew it to pieces. Unfortunately, if you notice a lot of these marks, then the mice have likely started to build their nest or have already built it.
How do I keep my shed pest free?
Keeping your shed pest free will alleviate unwanted stress and give you peace of mind that your belongs are stored safely.
There are 3 main steps to keep your shed rodent and pest free:
- Seal your shed – First, walk the perimeter and search for all possible entry points. Look for small openings, burrows, and gaps in the construction. Once you have identified the entry points, seal them off. Use steel wool for the small holes and openings and fill their burrows with dirt. If burrows keep reappearing, consider building a concrete moat around around the perimeter to remove any dirt from sitting right against the shed walls.
- Remove all food sources – It’s unlikely you have snacks and candies in the shed (if you do, put them in the kitchen!), but that’s not all mice will go for. Mice are opportunistic eaters and will whatever they can get their little hands on. If you think you mice don’t have food to eat in your shed, think twice. There could be birdseed that is not stored in an airtight container, a pile of acorns in the corner that you raked and picked up from the yard, or trash, compost, pet food, vegetable gardens, etc.
- Don’t leave anything for them to nest in – Mice love sheds because they can be safe nesting places. So, make sure that you do not give them any reason to stay long. This means that you should consider all materials that you store in your shed. Fabrics and fibers, especially ones that include a fill (like fluffy cotton or cushiony foam) should be stored in tightly sealed plastic containers or not kept in there in the first place. Newspaper, cardboard boxes, straw, packing peanuts, and other plastics are ideal nesting materials for mice. You should also not store them in your shed, and if you must, make sure to keep them sealed in airtight plastic containers.
How to get rid of mice in my shed?
If you’re reading this section, I’m very sorry, for you have a big problem on your plate. While mice and rats can wreak havoc and be a pain to deal with, the good news is that there are proven pest control methods that help keep rodents at bay and help get rid of them for good.
There are 2 main pest control efforts that tend to deliver the best results:
- Traps and poisons – Traps and poisons are the go-to methods if you want to quickly control your mouse population. They work quickly and effectively and they are relatively inexpensive. The most common traps are snap traps and humane traps (for people who don’t want to kill mice).
- Cats and dogs – Cats and dogs can also help keep rodents out of your shed. A cat is typically more effective than a dog at eliminating pests, although the consensus is that having both a cat AND a dog is more effective than having just a cat or a dog.
Regardless or what methods you use to control your pests, it’s imperative that you follow the steps mentioned in the previous section to help keep your shed pest free in the first place. This means you need to seal off your shed, remove all food sources, and be mindful of all materials that you store in it.
If you don’t follow these steps, any pest control method that you choose to use is subject to fail because mice can always be lured back in the future.
Why do mice go into my shed when there’s no food?
Mice typically go into sheds for two reasons: food and shelter. If you have don’t have any snacks for them, then the mice are there for shelter.
However, you may not realize that there is in fact food in the shed. Mice will eat things that you would never expect. For example, they may eat bird seed, pet food, nuts, grasses, weeds, and other plant-based materials that could be storing from your yard/garden.
How do I keep mice out of my shed in the winter?
The best thing you can do to keep mice and rats out of your shed in the winter is to seal it off properly. Walk around the perimeter of your shed and look for any openings or cracks. You want to seal off all of them with steel wool. Make sure you check for entry points around the roof of the shed, too, and make sure there’s no cracks or openings under doors or around windows.
Should I get an outside cat?
For the purpose of keeping pests and rodents at bay in and around your shed, it’s not optimal to get an outside cat. It wouldn’t hurt your situation, but there are just better solutions, such as sealing off all cracks and openings, removing all food sources, or using traditional trapping methods.
An outside could would occasionally pick off a mouse or two, but it would not be effective enough to catch or scare away all of your mice.