Did you know that there are approximately 1,100 species of mice? Mice and other rodents are world class carriers of diseases. No self respecting home owner likes to get an infestation of mice. Sadly for avid bird watchers who own feeders, these rodents can be a problem. “Why? Do bird feeders attract mice?” you ask. They certainly do.
However, with the help of a few tricks, I managed to effectively eliminate this problem with my bird feeders.
Problems with Mice in Relation to Bird Feeders
Mice are commonly hated by society. They are one of the unwitting symbols of diseases and uncleanness. But what problems can they cause if they loiter around bird feeders?
- Consuming seed and other foods meant for birdsf
- Scaring away skittish birds
- Infecting bird foods with their urine or feces
- Transmitting diseases to birds
- Damaging the bird feed to access the food
Mice are comfortable sharing a home with us humans, which is ironic considering how uncomfortable humans are with mice living in their walls. And oftentimes, these rodents present the same problems as they do with bird feeders: damage and contamination. And if a bird feeder is left unprotected, the presence of mice can increase exponentially. I, for one, don’t like the thought of that.
7 Tips to Prevent Mice Infestation Around Bird Feeders
1. Install a Baffle
A baffle is basic defense against rodents such as squirrels and mice. A bird feeder without a baffle invites rodents to a party. It is important to note, though, that the baffle should be tight fitting. Mice are very small. They can squeeze through holes in which a ball point pen can go through. They look larger than they actually are just because of their fur.
2. Keep the Area Clean
Mice forage for food. Fallen seeds and seed hulls make foraging a lot easier for these pests. Letting bird food fall to the ground is an effective way of attracting more mice to the feeder. A seed tray prevents that.
In the name of cleanliness, use shelled seeds. Without shells, there is no possibility of them being thrown around your yard.
3. Avoid Ground Feeders
In light of how mice can easily get to bird food on the ground, it’s important to avoid ground feeders. Ground feeders are a lot easier for mice to get to than hanging feeders.
4. Use Wire or Metal Hangers to Hang Feeders
Speaking of hanging feeders, it’s best to hang them with a wire or metal hanger. Mice can’t climb on metallic surfaces. These surfaces are just too smooth for rodents to get a good grip on. Sometimes, bird watchers like using posts for their bird feeders. If I had to use a post, I would avoid wood or plastic. Mice can climb wooden surfaces. And they can chew on plastics, causing damage. I’d stick to metal.
5. Use Spiced Bird Food
Mammals hate capsaicin, the particles that make chili peppers spicy. In fact, there are only two known mammals which can eat spicy foods and enjoy it. However, birds don’t taste it and are unaffected by it. By using spiced food, I managed to discourage rodents and other mammals from taking interest in my bird feeders.
If I can’t find spiced bird food in pet stores, I just add cayenne pepper or chili pepper flakes to the seeds.
6. Store Bird Food in Metal
As I already mentioned above, mice can chew on plastic. This is why I make sure to store bird food in metal containers that mice can’t get into.
7. Placement of Bird Feeder Matters
Mice only ventures out as far as 25 feet away from their homes in search of food. This is why I make sure that my bird feeder is at least 30 feet away from potential mice burrows or shelters. Other placement factors I keep in mind are trees and bushes. Mice and other rodents can jump and climb well. I ensure that my feeders are at least 5 feet from the ground and 10 feet from branches mice can jump horizontally from.
Other Tips to Discourage the Presence of Mice
Mice invading bird feeders might just be a small part of the problem. I have to make sure that there are no mice in my yard. Here’s how I do that.
- Trim bushes and trees so mice can’t hide and burrow under them.
- Keep my yard clean. An unclean yard is just conducive to more mice problems.
- Grow peppermint. Though not scientifically proven, it seems that mice hate the strong smell of mint.
What I NEVER Do Regarding Mice Problems
I NEVER want to hurt mice, even if they are disturbing the peace of my bird feeders. They are, after all, just trying to survive. They are still a part of nature.
Some people like putting petroleum jelly, glue, poison, or other substances on bird feeder posts or other places mice might step on. These substances are harmful and can kill mice. Besides, these substances can also harm birds. The mice killed by these things are potential food for birds of prey. The same poison I might be using to protect birds can also kill birds.
Another method I notice people resort to is an outdoor cat. Cats are just as likely to eat birds as they eat mice.
Do bird feeders attract mice? They certainly do. But with the tips I mentioned above, mice are discouraged from ever visiting bird feeders, as well as the yard, ever again.