Natural Rodent Repellent {Ensuring Safety for Pets and Children}

4th of July weekend was an interesting one for Nick and I this year.  Saturday morning started out lovely.  I made some delicious waffles and topped them in blueberries, strawberries, and coconut laid out in the design of the U.S. flag, of course.  Unfortunately, this post is not about those magnificent waffles (I’ll do a waffle post soon!).

While we were enjoying our brekky we noticed our little dog, Reymie, being sneaky with something she found on the porch.  When she tries to eat something while hiding under a chair we know she has something she probably shouldn’t!  So Nick attempted to take it away from her and discovered her mouth is full of thick teal saliva.  We then noticed some random teal pellets scattered on our porch.  Having no idea what they were or where they came from, we went around to our neighbors to ask if they had recently used fertilizer or something that would contain these teal pellets.  No one seemed to know what they were so we turned to good ol’ Google.  To our horror, the pellets we found looked a heck of a lot like rat poison.

The pellets we found around our porch.

The pellets we found around our porch.

Off to Dove Lewis (Portland’s AMAZING emergency vet) we went and we arrived there about 1 hour after Reymie ingested the poison.  I brought some of the pellets we found with me and the front desk staff immediately recognized it as rat bait and believed it was a brand called d-CON.  They immediately took her back to induce vomiting and begin IV fluids.  They also gave her activated charcoal to bind to the toxins as they made their way through her body.

Throughout this terrifying event, we learned quite a few things about rodent bait and how it affects the body.  It is, obviously, dangerous for pets to ingest.  It is meant to kill rodents so other small creatures are in danger when ingesting it as well.  We learned there are two types of commonly used rat bait – one that has an antidote and one that does not.  The one that has an antidote includes brands such as d-CON and it prevents the formation of blood clots.  All mammals experience tears in blood vessels on a daily basis, but our bodies are able to form clots and get on their day.  The active ingredients in d-CON prevent the production of Vitamin K, which causes the body to reach lethal levels of internal bleeding.  The other type of rat baits contain zinc phosphide and there is no antidote for this ingredient.  Side effects include seizures and our vet told us if Reymie reached that point, her only treatment options would be to alleviate her symptoms and hope her brain recovers from the seizures.  Since we didn’t know exactly what Reymie ate, hearing these options was pretty horrible.  We decided to treat her as if she ate d-CON and took her home with hopes that she would not develop the symptoms associated with zinc phosphide.  She will be taking Vitamin K twice a day for 4 weeks and will follow up with her vet to ensure her blood is clotting as it should.  So far, we have not seen symptoms associated with zinc phosphide (knock on wood!).

Charcoal covered beard :-)

Charcoal covered beard 🙂

According to, “these chemicals poison over 10,000 children across the U.S every year.  Young children, especially those under the age of 6, are at high risk of unintentional poisoning through ingestion. Kids’ curious nature and desire to stick everything in their mouths makes exposure to rodenticides a real danger.”  While I do not have small children in my home, I find this statistic very concerning.  I did a little research about how to control rodent issues in your home without the use of harsh chemicals and here is what I found out.

  • According to one professional wildlife removal site, the best way to prevent rodents getting in your house is to make sure all holes or spaces where rodents can enter the home are covered.  Do a thorough investigation of your home and its foundation and look for any small hole or crack on the interior and exterior – rats and mice and squeeze their bodies in to very small spaces!
  • Another prevention method is to ensure that food items are tightly sealed and kept out of reach of mice.  Also, keep your trash cans away from your house.
  • Homestead Mania provides instructions for natural mouse repellent pouches that are made with corn cob pet bedding and Balsam Fir essential oil.
  • Tree Hugger recommends a salad oil made of horseradish, garlic, and plenty of cayenne pepper, which can be sprayed liberally on areas where you know rats are a problem.  Mix the ingredients, let sit for a few days, then spray on pipes and areas where you have noticed rat chewing.
  • I read on various parts of the internet that peppermint oil is a great rodent repellent.  You can either put 100% peppermint oil on a cotton ball and put the cotton ball near air vents or other rodent entry points.  You can also grow peppermint near entryways – which serves the double purpose of rodent repellent and herb for cooking 🙂
  • There are some companies that create natural rodent repellents, including EarthKind brand, which claim to be safe for humans (and I am assuming pets too).
  • And of course, there are traps.  I’ll leave the type of trap up to you depending on your feelings about killing vs. not killing small rodents.  I once lived in a part of Portland that has a problem with roof rats and we could hear them creating homes in the walls around our bed.  It was pretty gnarly so the owner of the home had to have an exterminator come to set rat traps in the attic.  It helped the problem greatly, although it was pretty gross/kinda sad at the time.

As we prepare to move in to our new home and start the garden of our dreams, I will be particularly aware of the pest control we use.  I will probably be testing out natural remedies, such as peppermint oil or the pouches created by Homestead Mania, so I will keep you all updated on what I find works (or doesn’t!).  Stay safe out there and keep your furry friends away from poisons too 🙂

Do you have any tactics for keeping rodents out of your home?  Share in the comments below!

XoXo – Scotti Leona