birdfeeder attracting mice

I've had a bird feeder for about a month now, and at first it was only attracting birds and squirrels. I didn't mind the squirrels eating from the feeder as I was more than happy to refill the feeder every day. But recently I've noticed mice eating from underneath the feeder too, and I can't seem to get rid of them. I've tried cleaning up under the feeder (on the ground) everything I can, though this is difficult because there's muddy ground there, as my feeder hangs from a tree (there's nowhere else for me to put it)

I've tried spraying peppermint oil which I heard deters mice, but it doesn't seem to be affecting them at all. I really don't want to stop feeding the birds, as it's almost winter and I don't want to cut off their supply, and I also have a lot of unused bird food which I wouldn't know what to do with, if I were to stop.

Does anyone know how I can keep the mice out of my garden, without stopping feeding the birds? I don't really want to put down rat poison because the birds could eat that too, and there's nowhere I can put it where the mice will eat it and the birds won't

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  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 3,645
    Have a look at this thread
    You might also find that some of your mice may be voles or even shrews. Personally I don't worry about them as they're largely harmless and a nice addition to the wildlife that benefits from my garden. They're all part of the food chain too so only use poison as a last resort and with proper precautions to stop the corpses being scavenged or partially poisoned animals being predated.
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 4,972
    I've called in pest control to deal with a rat under the shed on 2 occasions. Both times the first question asked was "Do you feed the birds?".

    Bird food is like a banquet for mice and rats. Fortunately I live in the country and both grow and am surrounded by plants heavily laden with fruit, seeds, cobnuts etc  etc. I also don't use insecticides so there are plenty of insects. All in all there is more than enough to sustain the birds. I don't want to attract vermin to the garden so I have, therefore, made the decision not to put out additional food for the birds except when conditions are particularly harsh and the other supplies have finished (February usually).

    Where there's bird food there will almost certainly be mice and possibly rats. Mice I don't mind - rats I do.

    I do, however, always put out water for the birds - unless there are lots of puddles
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Have a look at this thread
    You might also find that some of your mice may be voles or even shrews. Personally I don't worry about them as they're largely harmless and a nice addition to the wildlife that benefits from my garden. They're all part of the food chain too so only use poison as a last resort and with proper precautions to stop the corpses being scavenged or partially poisoned animals being predated.
    sorry, I forgot to outline my problem with the mice. as well as me being worried I'll get complaints from the neighbours (they already don't like the excessive amount of birds in the garden) the mice also seem to scare away the birds as well as the squirrels. They won't eat so long as the mice are around. 
  • peweukpeweuk Posts: 23
    We had a similar problem with rats.
    Fortunately, at the time, we lived in a cottage in the country and had no neighbours, farm buildings or water within a 1 mile radius so at first there were only 2 rats.
    However after a few months they bred 6 little ones and the only way we found to deal with the problem was to use rat trap cages to humanely catch them and deposit them at least a couple of miles from the house i the countryside near water.
    It took a few weeks to catch them all - but we eventually got rid of them.
    However, it didn't take long before they were replaced and the cycle started again.
    The only way we could stop them from coming was to remove the food source by stopping feeding the birds.
    The following year we were missing the bird visits, so started feeding again, and just ignored the couple of rats that returned again as they were not doing any harm or damage, and they continued visiting until we moved house.
    I appreciate that not everyone could just ignore visits from rats or mice, we were fortunate that our nearest neighbours were a good mile away, and that was a farm - where our visitors probably came from.

    At the time, the 'experts' told us that the only sure way to get rid of them - other than removing the food source - was to poison them - and we were not prepared to do that.
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 3,645
    sorry, I forgot to outline my problem with the mice. as well as me being worried I'll get complaints from the neighbours (they already don't like the excessive amount of birds in the garden) the mice also seem to scare away the birds as well as the squirrels. They won't eat so long as the mice are around. 
    Well I won't start a debate about what counts as 'excessive' birds but generally I haven't noticed the birds reacting to the mice here at all.

    You could try different ways of feeding the birds that result in less mess on the ground. You can buy trays that fit under feeders to catch food as it drops or feed smaller amounts on a table rather than just fill a feeder. Alternatively you can plant plants that provide natural food for birds and feed them that way with suppliments in very cold weather if needs be.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 26,751
    I'd be more annoyed at the squirrels - assuming we're talking about greys, and not our beloved native reds.
    @wild edges's advice is good re trays under the feeders. The mice here use our feeders in situ as they're against the fence and they can access them from there, where they hide. 
    I often saw him/her feeding with the birds too - I have a pic of a blackbird, a dunnock and mousie all out together on some paving during last winter  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • peweukpeweuk Posts: 23
    At one point around the bird feeder we had for a while in our last last garden we had a badger 2 male and 3 female pheasants, a yellow tit, 2 great tits and a rat all on the ground below the bird feeders all at once.
    We did the Bird survey a few years ago and found that we had so many different breeds visiting in one day that it was worth tolerating the small numbers in the rat family for the pleasure.
    If we had had neighbours, I'm sure I would have put up with any critiscism just for the pleasure of the company of the wildlife - who never complain.
  • FoxiesFoxies Posts: 44
    Have a look at this thread
    You might also find that some of your mice may be voles or even shrews. Personally I don't worry about them as they're largely harmless and a nice addition to the wildlife that benefits from my garden. They're all part of the food chain too so only use poison as a last resort and with proper precautions to stop the corpses being scavenged or partially poisoned animals being predated.
     Malcolm ...
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 26,751
    Oh - Malcolm is beyond gorgeous @Foxies ; :)

    What a great photo too. 
    I havent anything that good. My camera isn't as good for close ups.
    Taken through a window though.

    Sadly no longer with me  :(
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • FoxiesFoxies Posts: 44
    edited 7 November
    Thank you @Fairygirl - lucky timing and isn't he just! .... altho' I suspect that should be 'wasn't he just' ... I've not seen him about for a while  :(
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