There are few things that are more relaxing than winding down by a warm fire on a cold winter night. Unfortunately, your peace and tranquility can quickly be interrupted by a family of mice jumping out of your wood pile. Firewood is the perfect nesting ground for mice, rats, and other rodents. I had a mouse run up my arm a few years ago gathering wood and I still think about it every time I grab a log.
Don’t let staying warm this winter open your home up to rodents and other pests. Use these tips to enjoy your fireplace without welcoming in unwanted guests. How do you get rid of mice in a wood pile?
Getting mice out of an outdoor wood pile won’t be easy, but there are a few ways to deter mice. Keep your primary firewood rack elevated off the ground, covered, and at least 20 feet away from your home. Frequently mess around in the pile, get rid of bird feed and other food sources, rotate the wood and only bring in a few weeks of firewood at a time. You may also want to try rodent repellents outside and poison if the mice have invaded your home.
Keeping mice and other rodents out of your wood pile is a serious challenge. Mice need a place to live and your woodpile feels like the perfect home. I’ll go over a few tips to deter mice from entering the pile and stop them from invading your home.
Get Mice Out Of Your Wood Pile
Keeping mice out of a wood pile is easier said than done. Your freshly cut and stacked rack of firewood looks like the perfect home for Mickey’s little buddies. To keep mice out of the pile, you need to make it look way less comforting. Think about what attracted the mice to your wood pile in the first place and make it less habitable.
Your first goal is to get the firewood away from your house. Don’t stack firewood against the side of your house, inside the garage, or down in your basement. Don’t invite rodents into your home by setting up a nice comfy home for them.
- Move Wood Away From The House: The firewood pile should be at least 20ft away from your home in a sunny locations. You want to find the balance between convenience, getting it out of the way, and keeping it away from your home. It really doesn’t matter where the wood is located as long as it’s not directly next to the house. The 20ft rule is just an easy suggestion to make since the wood won’t be on the porch or directly next to the foundation.
- Use Rodent Deterrent: I’ve been using a spray bottle of Rodent Sheriff around my house and wood pile for the last year or two. It’s basically a bottle of concentrated peppermint oil that deters rodents and insects. Honestly, I have no idea if it works! I haven’t seen any mice in that time span, but I rarely saw mice anyway. It has kept chipmunks/squirrels away from my bird feeders so it must be doing something.
- Get Wood Off The Ground: Build/buy an actual firewood rack to get the wood up off the ground. Getting your wood up off the ground will keep it dry and reduce the chance of wood rot. Rotten wood is the perfect home for insects which mice are known to eat. You can’t setup an all you can eat buffet and expect mice not to show up. If you don’t have a rack you can try pallets, but I recommend buying firewood rack brackets and building one yourself. You can screw everything together in under 5 minutes and easily swap out boards every 5-10 years once they start to look ugly.
- Cover Up The Pile: Covering up your wood pile is another way to reduce the chance of wood rot and make your pile less attractive. You can cover up the wood with a tarp or use a commercial firewood cover (my favorite).
- Light It Up: Set your wood up in a sunny spot to dry it out and consider installing a light somewhere adjacent to the pile. Remember that mice are prey species. Setting up a light will make the pile seem way less safe. This is an old trick I learned from full time RV’ers. They run string lights under their RV to keep the rats and mice away.
- Remove Food Sources: Think about what mice like to eat the most. They’re omnivorous, but they prefer seeds berries and easy to process grains. This one stinks, but you should consider taking down your birdfeeders for a while. At the very least you’ll want to move them a fair distance away from the wood pile.
- Rotate Your Wood: Don’t always take the fresh wood from the top of your pile. Start rotating your wood by age. This is much better for drying and seasoning the wood anyway. Build two separate wood piles and start taking the oldest logs first and slowly work your way to the new stuff.
- Don’t Store Lots of Wood Inside: You can’t deny the convenience of storing firewood inside, but you run the risk of attracting mice. Only bring in properly seasoned wood and move it in a little at a time. I like to store half of a cord next to my wood burner and replace it as needed. That cycles through the wood fast so there’s less time to make a nest. You may also want to consider setting down some mice/rat poison to be safe. Use pet safe bait stations (my favorite) if you have dogs/cats lurking around. Secondary poisoning is of little concern with cats, but there’s still a slight risk.
- Visit The Pile Frequently: Making multiple trips to your wood pile per day will reduce the likelihood of rodents invading the pile. Every time you stir up the wood pile you make trespassing critters nervous. After a few days/weeks of stirring things up your friendly neighborhood mice family will pack up and leave.
Look For Common Signs of Mice/Rodents
Keep an eye out for the common signs of mouse and rodent populations. Sightings of mice are the obvious sign, but there are a few subtle ones. Pay attention to how often and how many mice you see to get an indication of the population size. Seeing one mouse every 2-3 months only in the evenings doesn’t mean the pile is infested. There’s probably a small population in the area and they may not even live in the pile.
Other signs you have mice, rats and other rodents are gnawed wood, droppings, and nesting material. Small droppings are usually mice or voles. Larger dropping could be rats so you’ll want to wear gloves when grabbing wood. You don’t want to get bit and end up needing the rabies vaccine.
Mice and rats won’t ruin your firewood
Mice are highly annoying, but they won’t ruin your firewood. They’re looking for a home and aren’t likely to cause health problems if you’re just burning the wood. I hate the jump scares, but killing them usually isn’t necessary. Try to make the pile less cozy and scare them away without resorting to poisons.
Make sure the wood is away from your house so they don’t make the jump into your home. A mouse infestation can cause serious health complications for your family. If you start seeing mice in your home it’s time to lay down poison and consider calling an exterminator depending on how bad the situation was.
I dealt with a mouse infestation in a house an old abandoned house I bought a decade or so ago. Once they get past a certain population no amount of poison or mouse traps will kill them all. We ended up needing to call an exterminator after a few weeks dealing with them. He saw our pile of 100 dead mice from the week and estimated the swarm to be in the 1000s. They ran a camera through our walls and boy was it a nightmare.
Mouse/Rat Poison Doesn’t Have To Be The Solution
Obviously, mice can be pesky little buggers, but think of all the other animals that feed on mice and other animals. Putting out mice and rat poison will kill every animal in the area that feeds on mice. Ingesting a little bit of poison is all it takes to thin out an animals blood enough to where they bleed out internally.
Do you feel comfortable killing your local fox, owl, hawk, outdoor cat and racoon populations? Maybe racoons (I’m just joking)! Racoons are curious little guys but boy can they be a pain. I might be a hunter at heart, but I’m not comfortable with the butterfly effect that comes from setting up a poison station outside.
Mice invading an indoor woodpile is another story altogether. Poison those suckers! It’s not worth allowing your family to be exposed to the bacteria and disease mice carry.