As beautiful as African Violets are, it can be particularly difficult to take care of them, especially if you can’t get the lighting down. However, even if you have sunlight, water, food, and everything else your violet needs to flourish, things can still go wrong. Mice are an extremely invasive species, and once they set their sights on your plants, it can be difficult to get rid of them.
Mice eat African Violets and a wide variety of other plants. They are omnivorous, so they eat both plants and small animals. Mice are also destructive and unhygienic. A rodent problem left unchecked will eventually leave you with dead or dying plants and the possibility of disease.
No matter how much care you give your African Violet, it will all go to waste if you let a rodent problem go unchecked. If you’ve noticed signs of mice around your house or plants, then it’s time to take matters into your hands and solve the problem.
How To Spot Mice
Before doing anything else, the first thing you’ll need to do is confirm that your issue is actually a mouse. While it would be great to go straight into the precautions you’ll need to take to fix the problem, it would all be pointless if you treat the wrong issue.
Here’s how to spot mice:
Mouse droppings are very easy to spot. Although they are small, one or two mice in your house or garden will leave enough droppings behind and you’re bound to find some sooner or later.
Mouse droppings are black and cylindrical. They look like black grains of rice and are roughly the same size.
If you want to actively check for yourself, then any dark, damp or dirty areas in your house or garden are likely to have more than enough evidence of mice. A few examples of possible locations to check are open bins and compost heaps inside and outside the house.
One of the easiest signs to spot when it comes to rodents is the kind of damage they do. First and most important here is the damage they do to your plants. While insects sometimes cause small and sometimes inconspicuous damage to the body and leaves of your plant, mice are larger, so their destruction is simple to spot.
Look for signs of gnawing around the plant to be certain it’s a mouse. Usually, mice and rats will gnaw at the stem or leaves of your African Violet, leaving chewed-up bits in the soil and the surrounding ground.
Mice will also disturb the soil around your plants a lot more than insects will. They might even leave a few paw prints in and around your flower pot.
There are two smells most people associate with the presence of mice. The first is a strong, earthy smell which is the odor of their urine. The other smell is the odor of a dead mouse. This smell starts subtle but eventually worsens as the body decays.
While the first smell is usually subtle enough that you might not notice it, the second is unmistakable. Also, although one dead mouse is a good thing, mice usually come in groups, so if there’s one, most likely there are more.
Mice have two sets of incisors, located on each of their jaws. These incisors grow throughout their life cycle and, if left unchecked, will grow long enough that they stop the mice from eating. This problem will lead to starvation and eventual death.
As a result, mice often leave marks around the house as they file their teeth. These marks are easiest to spot on furniture and walls. However, they are also low enough to the ground that you’re unlikely to spot them unless you actively search for them.
Depending on the size of the mice in your home, these marks vary in size from about ⅛ inch (0.32 cm) long teeth marks to smaller scratches.
How To Protect African Violets From Mice
To keep mice away from your African Violets, you’ll need to take preventive methods. It’s far easier to keep them out of your house in the first place than it is to get them out once they’ve settled in. Mice are a very invasive and tenacious species, so take action immediately once you notice definitive signs of their presence!
Here are some of the easiest ways to protect your African Violets from mice:
- Move your plants out of reach
- Seal all the openings to your home
- Keep your house clean
- Use mouse traps and bait
- Get a cat
- Disrupt the nest
- Call an exterminator
Let’s explore each method further.
Move Your African Violet Out of Reach
Once you confirm that you have a mouse problem, the first thing you should do is move your African Violet out of reach. For people with indoor plants, this is the first step in keeping them safe from further damage.
Mice are pretty good climbers, so simply moving the plants to the top of a cabinet might not be enough. The best places to keep your plants will vary depending on the layout of your home. However, some of the usual good spots are isolated shelves and enclosed areas like your bedroom.
Regardless of where you choose, this solution is only temporary while you work on removing the infestation from your home.
Seal All Openings
The next thing you should do is make sure all entry points into your home are completely sealed. Although it can sometimes seem like mice come out of nowhere, they cannot get into your house without using an entry point.
To keep the problem from worsening, you’ll want to make sure that all conventional entry points are kept closed, especially at night when mice are a lot more active.
On the same note, mice can sometimes make their own entry points into your home. Thus, they can gnaw through pipes, floorboards, and wooden walls to gain access to your home.
Keep Your House Clean
Unfortunately, the most common reason for mice is unclean environments. Therefore, spotting a mouse is usually a good indicator that you need to do some cleaning around your house or garden.
Your entire house does not have to be dirty to attract rats. Sometimes, a simple open bin in the kitchen or garden compost can be enough to cause the problem. You should also make sure that the area around your African Violet is especially clean. Keep it in rooms far from any open bins or food.
Use Mouse Traps and Bait
Mouse traps and bait are two of the best ways to control mice once they get into your home. Many mouse traps are built to kill immediately, but if you want a more humane option, traps like Kensizer Humane Rat Trap (available on Amazon.com) allow you to catch mice alive and release them far from your home.
Alternatively, you can use mouse bait. Mouse bait is usually poisoned bits of food that kill the mouse once it consumes it. The downside of this is that the rodent will usually wander off to die elsewhere in the house, so you’ll have to find it to throw it out.
Get a Cat
Taking care of any living thing, let alone a cat or dog is a massive undertaking. Because of this, I would not suggest getting a pet just because of a mouse problem. However, if you were on the fence about getting a cat, this problem might just be the reason that tips the scale.
Cats are an especially good deterrent to mice. They are their natural predators and will usually hunt them down whenever they enter your house. Even without hunting them, the presence of a cat is enough to scare away some mice.
A study by the Scripps Research Institute has isolated a chemical signal in the urine of some animals that triggers a flight response in mice. Because of this, simply having a cat around is enough to make a dent in the problem. If you’re a pet person, the combination of a cat and a dog at home is also particularly effective.
Disrupt the Nest
With an advanced infestation, you can usually find a nest somewhere on your property or close to it. Mice usually make nests out of shredded paper, cloth, wood chips, fur, and anything else they can make into a spherical structure.
If you find the nest, take it out and burn it as quickly as possible. Although nests don’t come with every infestation, having one in your home is usually bad news as it shows that the mice are procreating. Since an adult female can give birth to up to a dozen mice per litter, the problem can quickly spiral out of control.
Call an Exterminator
If all else fails, the best thing you can do is call in a professional. Professional exterminators might cost you upwards of $100-$200, but they are generally well worth it. Years of experience in catching and getting rid of pests means that they can quickly find nests, entry points, and signs of a possible infestation.
A professional is also more likely to give you actionable advice on how to properly keep your African Violets safe until the mouse problem is over. As helpful as any online guide can be, there is no substitute for a professional that can give you help specific to your situation.
Mice are extremely destructive rodents that can cause significant harm to your African Violets. Since they are omnivorous, everything from the stem to your plant’s leaves is at risk once they get into your home or garden.
After confirming that you have a mouse problem, move your plants out of the way, close the entry points to your home, and place bait or traps in strategic locations around the house. However, if you cannot get rid of the problem, there’s no shame in calling in a professional exterminator.