(ARA) – The scurrying of tiny mice feet on a kitchen floor or the not-so-subtle droppings in the corner of the living room are enough to make even the most grounded homeowners shudder and launch into a wild-goose chase to find the mice that have invaded their home.
As the weather turns cooler, mice begin to seek cozier surroundings – including homes. That's exactly what happened to Paula Rohach, who discovered one day that a little animal had made itself at home in the house she shares with her husband and children.
"I noticed the mouse the first time while I was folding laundry in our basement," said Rohach. "It was racing along the back wall and scampered behind a loose floor board. I dropped my laundry and ran upstairs. It completely surprised me and concerned me too because I didn't know how many other mice were there."
Since its introduction to the country via seaport towns, the house mouse has become widespread throughout the United States. Even seemingly well-sealed homes are susceptible to mice during the fall and winter months. Mice are excellent swimmers and climbers. They are able to jump over a foot off the floor and can squeeze through openings as small as 1/4 of an inch — roughly the diameter of a pencil.
Although Rohach was able to eventually get rid of the mouse in her house, it took a good deal of work. She finally succeeded by trapping and poisoning the little critter. But it concerned her to use these poison baits, because she has two daughters and also owns a cat.
"I was scared that the kids or the cat might get their hands onto the poison trap," she said. "Who knows what could have happened then."
Fortunately there is a natural alternative to these rodenticides. Natural peppermint essential oil (also known as "oil of peppermint") offers a safe, effective and humane way to discourage these damaging and potentially disease-carrying rodents from entering homes.
"Although the scent is pleasing to humans, mice are repelled by the scent of natural peppermint essential oil," said Mindy Seiffert, aromatherapy category manager for Aura Cacia. "The oil drives mice away without the danger of poisoning pets or young children. Also, it creates a very pleasant atmosphere for people living in the home. Peppermint has a distinctive sweet, menthol aroma and can be both energizing and soothing."
To discourage the animals from entering, Seiffert recommends putting a few drops of peppermint essential oil on cotton balls and placing them around the house. Homeowners can also sprinkle the oil directly on floors and walls and items, or make a scented spray with two teaspoons of oil per cup of water.
Seiffert encourages homeowners to strongly scent areas where mice might enter homes or hide, such as underneath stairs or in a basement. Also, mice prefer to run alongside walls, so it's effective to scent the perimeter of rooms as well.
The peppermint will remain an effective repellent as long as the scent lingers. This varies according to conditions, but generally lasts roughly two to three weeks.
Half-ounce and two-ounce bottles of pure essential peppermint oil are available from Aura Cacia at natural product retailers nationwide and at www.auracacia.com .