Rodents are pesky pests that can potentially put your entire emergency goods at risk, but how do you rodent-proof a food storage stockpile?
To rodent-proof your food storage use durable airtight food containers, block all entry points to your house such as cracks & holes, keep your home clean, keep food in the fridge or freezer, and use traps and repellents. Remember to inspect your stockpile regularly for droppings and chew marks.
After extensively researching food storage preparation and survival techniques, I have gathered enough information to determine how to rodent-proof an emergency goods stockpile. In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at the most effective strategies you can implement to protect your food storage from rodents and pests.
How to Tell if Rodents Are Active in Your Food Storage
Rodents are a common threat to food storage stockpiles that all preppers should be ready to deal with. These critters can easily make their way into your home and get into your goods if you do not take precautions.
Most people keep their food storage supplies in locations that are quiet and generally, have less foot traffic such as the basement or pantry. This is the ideal place for rodents to strike as they feel less threatened to be active and make their way into your food.
One of the most important things you can do to secure your food storage stockpile is to watch out for telltale signs that rodents are active in your home. Keep an eye out for the following signs when evaluating your home and food storage for rodents.
1. Rodent Droppings
The first thing that you will likely see is rodent droppings or pellets scattered around. After enjoying a free meal from your food storage, rodents usually leave droppings in the area.
Depending on the number of rodents that are actively accessing your goods, you may see small or large amounts of droppings on the floor and within the vicinity of your food.
2. Chew Marks
Rodents will chew on pretty much anything and everything, as these critters like to bite various objects in your home to see if they are edible.
You will likely see chew marks in parts of your stockpile, especially on food packaging. Unlike many other pests and animals, rodents will actually pursue food packaging that is airtight and unopened.
Take a close look at your food supplies and see if you can spot any visible bite marks on the packaging. If pests have found a way into your emergency goods, it will likely be quite obvious. The rats may have gained access to certain food items, which would result in food being scattered on the floor, as well as bite marks on boxes and packages.
3. Visible Destruction
Even if rats or mice did not penetrate your food storage, they may have left other types of visible destruction in the area to indicate a rodent infestation.
Mice chew and destroy various parts of your home, even if it's not food. These rodents will go for paper, wires, clothes - anything that you have laying around.
4. Holes in Walls
If you notice a small hole in your wall that you are certain was not there before, you may have a rodent problem on your hands. These cunning critters will create tunnels to better navigate and access your home.
Holes in walls offer rodents a strategic advantage to get around being spotted while crawling around your house. While they will generally use holes and openings that already exist, they have been known to make their own.
How to Rodent Proof Your Food Storage
Rodent-proofing is an essential part of maintaining a food storage system. The bulk storage of goods in your home can be an open invitation for pests to come inside and try to find food.
To prevent rodents from accessing your food supplies, you need to completely pest-proof your home and stockpile thoroughly.
Rodents can be tricky to contain and you need to tick every box if you want to keep them out for good. Consider the following strategies when rodent-proofing your food storage.
1. Use Food Storage Containers
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is keeping food items in their original packaging. Most of the foods you buy in the store were not designed to be 100% mouse-proof.
Rats and mice have sharp teeth and jaws powerful enough to bite through the packaging of most food items in your stockpile. To prevent rodents from getting into your food, you must transfer your goods into practical and reliable food storage containers.
There are plenty of food storage containers that will prevent rodents from chewing through, such as metal containers, hard plastic containers, and glass containers. Some of the best rodent-proof food storage containers you should consider using are:
If the rats and mice can’t bite through it, then it should be safe from all pests. However, what’s equally important is that you buy airtight containers. Although the container may be durable enough to prevent chewing, an air leak can attract pests to your food storage, not to mention contaminate your food.
Always use airtight containers that completely seal, with tight-fitting metal lids or durable plastic ones. As a general rule of thumb, food-grade buckets, hard plastic containers, and mason jars tend to be the most reliable.
Once you’ve found mouse-proof containers, I would suggest placing all of your goods inside of storage boxes to secure them thoroughly.
2. Block Entry Points
The bottom line is if there is a way in, rodents will find it. Rats and mice are notorious for utilizing even the smallest and most obscure openings to access your home.
These critters will look for any excuse to get inside your food storage, which is why you want to block all entry points that leave your home vulnerable. Naturally, if you see any visible openings, you can take immediate action to seal them before rodents get in.
However, some openings can be trickier to find and may require a thorough inspection. Unfortunately, the incentive to find every potential opening in your home only becomes a priority once rodents become active. Nonetheless, you can use the following methods to block entry points to your home and food storage:
- Steel Wool
- Heavy duty plastic
The type of material you use to block entry points is really up to you, but you may find that some are preferable depending on the location of the opening. Remember to keep an eye out for any openings big or small. Rodents will use holes, cracks, tears, and any opening they can find to get into your food storage.
Once you find an opening such as a hole, use steel wool to stuff the entry point. Alternatively, cracks and tears are much easier to seal with caulk and cement. If the opening requires plastic, glass, or metal, use a material that is suitable for the area of your home.
3. Keep Your Home Clean
There are plenty of scents, food scraps, and other things laying around the house that will attract pests. Maintaining a regular cleaning schedule in your home and food storage will be essential to deter rodents from coming inside.
This is particularly the case with food-related scents and scraps. Any signs of food in your home, including pet food that has not been contained and sealed, will attract mice and rats, which is why cleanliness is a must when rodent-proofing.
4. Keep Food in the Fridge and Freezer
One of the best places to keep food items in your home is the fridge or freezer. Unlike many dry goods in your food storage system, the fridge and freezer offer a contained space that cannot be chewed through or accessed by rodents.
This is an ideal place for keeping your food items if your system allows it. Just make sure that you have the fridge and freezer space for your goods before you rely solely on this approach.
5. Use Traps and Repellents
I would generally only recommend resorting to traps and repellents if you are already dealing with a rodent infestation. However, some preppers like to go the extra mile when deterring rodents from getting in.
Traps and repellents are one of the most reliable tools in your tool kit and they work wonders at preventing rodent infestations from running wild. There are a lot of different options to consider, and you should ultimately decide on a method based on the severity of your infestation and the design of your food storage system.
Best Rodent Traps to Protect Food Storage
Rodent traps or mouse traps are a classic solution to dealing with rats and mice. Some traps stop these critters dead in their tracks, whereas others are a bit more forgiving. Consider the following rodent traps to protect your food storage stockpile.
Snap traps are a go-to pick among preppers, and this method is as effective now as it ever was. Simply place a snap trap as instructed within the area of your food storage stockpile or anywhere in your home where rodents are active.
Humane Rodent Trap
If you want to keep rodents out of your food storage but do not wish to cause the critters harm, you can opt for a humane rodent trap.
Aside from scaring the rodent, a humane trap does not actually physically hurt them. After placing food inside the trap, rodents will enter, causing the cage’s locking mechanism to trap them inside. You can then release the rodent in a safe location away from your home unharmed.
A glue trap is a very effective way to prevent rodents from accessing your food storage. Much like the name suggests a glue trap will glue the critter to the surface of a board, stopping them from moving any further.
The surface of the board is covered in an adhesive that rodents will stick to as soon as they make contact with it. This trap does not immediately kill the rodent, which will require you to finalize the job.
The new-age approach to dealing with pests is to place an electric trap inside your food storage area. This is the most sophisticated and advanced method given that rodents are physically electrocuted when they enter the trap.
Electric traps look like rectangular boxes that lure rodents inside. As soon as the rodent steps inside, an electric shock stops them dead in their tracks.
Best Rodent Repellents to Protect Food Storage
One of the best ways to prevent rodents from accessing your food storage is to use repellents. Unlike traps, repellents aim to deter rodents from ever coming into your home or to make them feel uncomfortable if they do.
There are a number of repellents such as poisons that you can use. However, I find that modern-age natural solutions work just as well as traditional rat poisons, without negatively affecting your health or the environment. Consider the following repellents when rodent-proofing your home food storage.
Ultrasonic Pest Repeller
The technology behind repelling rodents has become very advanced over the years. These days, you can repel virtually every household pest by using an ultrasonic electromagnetic rodent repeller.
This device repels various types of insects, as well as rodents such as rats and mice. By activating the ultrasonic pest repeller, the device will essentially protect the inside and outside of your entire home from pests.
Certain oils work wonders at repelling pests and are a natural solution that allows you to stop pests without the use of poisons. The best natural oils for repelling rodents are:
- Peppermint Oil
- Castor Oil
- Citronella Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Lemon Oil
For this method to work, you need to soak your preferred natural oil in cotton balls or old rags. Then place the soaked cotton balls and rags into openings such as holes or cracks that rodents use to enter your home. In addition, simply placing the soaked cotton balls or rags in an area where rodents are active will also work as a deterrent.
Tips for Rodent Proofing Food Storage
If you want mouse-proof storage that prevents all rodents from getting into your goods, you must take measures ahead of time to secure your stockpile.
The last position you want to find yourself in when relying on your food storage is to discover that the bulk of your goods has been contaminated by rodents. To ensure your stockpile is safe from rodents and pests, keep the following tips in mind when securing your food storage.
1. Inspect Your Food Storage Regularly
Food storage areas can often get neglected. It’s quite common for preppers to ambitiously set up a stockpile in an area of their home and then assume their goods are safe for the long haul.
This is not always the case. Rodents can make their way into just about any home and the first place they will likely target is your food storage. That said, it’s important to check up on your stockpile routinely. I recommend inspecting your goods for chew marks and droppings at least once a week.
2. Check All Food Packaging Before Storing
One of the main reasons for rodents to get into a stockpile is if some of the packaging of your goods have been damaged. Any opening can attract rodents, which is why you should always check all packages before storing them.
Look for any tears or holes that are leaking air. To prevent incidents like this from occurring, I suggest transferring all food items to durable airtight containers.
3. Check Outside the House
Many preppers are often shocked when rodents unexpectedly appear inside their home. Even if you have a clean house with all food contained properly, rodents can often be active on your property if you have something outside your home that attracts them.
Fruit-bearing trees and gardens can encourage rats and mice to linger around your residence. If that’s the case, consider repelling rodents inside, as well as outside of your home.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker