Let's say you've found some holes in your cereal boxes that appear to have been made by tiny teeth. Or you've seen some other telltale ... evidence that critters have been around. Yep, you've got mice. How in the world are you supposed to get rid of them?

First let's get the old-school methods out of the way, the spring-loaded traps, poison and glue traps. They can be dangerous to you (think about your finger throbbing for days "Animaniacs"-style if you accidentally set one off), unnecessarily cruel (have you ever seen anything die of poison?) and leave you a mess to deal with (in the case of a critter dying in the walls behind your pantry).

If you’ve got a queasy stomach, though (or you’d rather not kill the mouse that’s been eating its way through your breakfast cereals), fear not. There are more Earth-friendly (and mouse-friendly) alternatives, which are also definitely a better option if you’ve got kids or pets at home.

One option to try is peppermint oil — I know some who swear by it. You can order some online, soak a few cotton balls in the stuff, and then place them strategically (in places where mice have chewed through food or where you’ve found their fecal matter), and voila — mice repelled. Apparently they can’t stand the smell of peppermint. (Kind of like vampires and garlic, only not as sinister.) You can also try Earth-Kind’s Fresh Cab, an all-natural mouse repellant which I haven’t tried myself, but has gotten some pretty positive user feedback. In fact, some say it’s more effective than the peppermint oil.

Once you’ve figured out how to get rid of those mice, make sure you keep them out. Seal up all possible entries into your home with caulk or with steel wool (which is very hard for mice to chew through). When I was sealing my own home after a mouse encounter, I was surprised to find out that it was coming through a hole the size of a pencil eraser at the bottom of my pantry. (Yes, a mouse can squeeze through a hole that small.)

Also, take an extra 10 minutes at the end of each night and wipe down your counters and sweep your kitchen floor — no need to leave any enticing crumbs out. And make sure that all the food in your pantry is sealed as well. Mice have a keen sense of smell (which may be why the smell of peppermint is just too much for them) and will come after anything that smells yummy. Did you happen to leave a box of Oreos half-open in the pantry? You might as well leave out a welcome mat for the little critters. As with all natural solutions, a little bit of prevention goes a long way.

In case the chewed-through box of Cheerios wasn’t enough, find out more great reasons to get rid of household pests. Also, you can learn more about natural pest control solutions and find out how to keep other critters away in a safer, healthier way. Good luck to you!

— Chanie

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MNN tease photo of mouse: Shutterstock