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What attracts rats and mice to your home during winter?

Published on 21 June 2022
  • Animals
  • Community
  • Health and wellbeing

When the cold weather sets in, so do rats and mice.

As temperatures drop, rodents search out new shelters, opting for the warmth and comfort of the indoors and where there are plentiful food supplies available.

Rats and mice are rodents that carry disease and can be a public health concern in the community. When in the right environment, they breed rapidly and can quickly cause damage.

Rodents have been successful in populating every continent except Antarctica. This is because of their small size, short breeding cycle and ability to eat a variety of foods. They are the second most successful mammal on the planet, second only to humans.

Not all rodents are considered pests. Many rodents are an important part of the food chain, as they are prey for meat-eating animals such as native birds of prey, snakes and lizards.

Common pest rodent species in Victoria include the Norway rat, the roof rat and the house mouse.

Although Council does not provide direct pest control services, there are things you can do to prevent rodent harbourage. We recommend maintaining a clean and hygienic environment and eliminating possible food, water or shelter sources as the most effective way of reducing activity in and around the home.

Apart from actual sightings, there are some tell-tale signs you should be aware of.

Signs you may have a rodent infestation

  • Droppings - often found in the pantry or kitchen cupboards and drawers
  • Sounds in the roof, walls or sub-floor areas
  • Damaged food packaging
  • Odours - usually a musty odour
  • Burrows found along walls, or fences, woodpiles, stored items
  • Damage from gnawing
  • Greasy tracks along the floor or footprints and tail tracks in dusty areas

How to deter rodent activity

If you are experiencing issues in relation to vermin and rodent activity, there are ways to discourage their presence and manage the problem. Here are a few tips to help deter these unwanted visitors:

Pest proof your home

Seal gaps and holes under eaves, roof tiles and in external walls - mice can squeeze through the smallest of gaps.

Reduce food supply

Food products are a prime target for rats and mice. Avoid leaving pet food outside; pick up any fallen fruit and nuts (these along with grains are among their favourite things to eat); keep compost covered; and store bulk foods in air-tight sealed containers.

Keep outside areas tidy

Remove garden waste or other disuse materials from your property. Ensure bin lids are secure (If your Council bin is damaged contact our Customer Service Team on 1300 88 22 33).

Use mint as a repellent

Rats and mice avoid the scent of mint. Plant mint in your garden and rub peppermint oil indoors along areas you’ve experienced rodent problems.


If opting for rodenticides (bait stations, blocks etc), do not place baits in areas where they can be accessed by children, pets, wildlife or livestock, or use lockable bait stations. Always read the label before use and apply in accordance with directions. Always follow control safety precautions

When in doubt, contact a licensed pest controller who can advise you on the best course of action.

Further information

For advice on the responsibility for managing or deterring pests on you or your neighbour’s land, including other measures for removal, see our Pest Control page or phone 1300 88 22 33.

For more information, please visit the Department of Health website

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