Many of our homes in the Santa Cruz area are surrounded by gorgeous natural environment, but that comes with a few downsides. While we’re closer to the outdoors, rodents and pests often claim our homes as their own, making it a challenge to keep your space clean and clear of unwanted critters. While poisons have become a prevalent method to control rodent invasions, these poisons can harm and kill other animals in the local ecosystem. Recently, there have been local reports linking rat poison to sick bobcats, birds, and even our pets. We’ve identified a few natural pest control options that can help to keep your home rodent free without significant harm to the nearby environment.


Owl Boxes

Barn owls are excellent predators native to our local area, and they prey on small nocturnal rodents, including voles, mice, rats, and gophers. Owls help keep these populations in check, bringing a much needed balance to our local ecosystem. Installing a barn owl box in your yard can help to provide a nest for these birds and give them a reason to patrol your property. These nests must be mounted at least 17 feet in the air, either on a pole or in a tree, and they need to be the right size to encourage them to stay. In the right environment, owls readily adopt these nests as their home base.

Feral Cat

Local Feral Cats

While they often overlooked, feral cats are another local predator to small rodents like mice, rats, and gophers. A reasonable population of stray cats can bring a healthy balance to the rodents around our homes. Project Purr is a local non-profit in Santa Cruz that focuses on humanely controlling the feral cat population so they live alongside us in our neighborhoods. Their free Trap-Neuter-Return program allows residents to capture, vaccinate, and fix a local feral cat before returning it to the local area. This program includes microchipping and mandatory eartipping. Eartipping helps animal control quickly identify the cats from afar, signaling that the feral cat has been spayed or neutered. 

Tree Branch

Tree Branch Removal

Rodents often get into or onto your home from nearby trees that provide a simple entry point for them to crawl to your roof. A quick survey of your surrounding trees and shrubbery may show you where and how rodents are entering your home. This is especially important for larger animals like possums and raccoons, who are too big to squeeze into crawl spaces or underneath gaps. Removing tree branches and shrubs can help to prevent these rodents from climbing onto your roof and nesting at your house.

Vent Gap

Gap and Vent Repair

Mice and rats are notorious for squeezing into small gaps and vents while they search for food or find a place to stay. Look around your home for any gaps that lead to crawl spaces, attics, or ventilation. Steel wool and steel mesh are among the only materials rats cannot chew through. When you make the repairs to close up these gaps, make sure to use proper materials to prevent them from returning into your home.

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