There’s a rat in me kitchen what am I gonna do?

The last thing you want to find in your kitchen. (Picture: Thinkstock)

The last thing you want to find in your kitchen. (Picture: Thinkstock) - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Friends telling nightmare stories about how building work in the house next door to them had disturbed not only mice, but rats, which had then appeared in their kitchen, made me realise that the occasional mice we spotted wasn't that bad.

They may look cute, but do you really want them scampering about your worktops? (Picture: Getty)

They may look cute, but do you really want them scampering about your worktops? (Picture: Getty) - Credit: Getty Images

But I still don't want them stealing the cat food and scampering about in the kitchen, especially once I realised they are surprisingly good at climbing upwards.

We know that while there may be a few holes they can squeeze through – our back door doesn't fit particularly well for a start – newcomers are mainly brought in by the cats who drop them proudly, let them run away under a cupboard and lose interest.

We've tried feeding the cats less so they are more interested in catching the mice, but the children can't ignore their poor little starving me meows and give in.

So, cats adding to the indoor mouse population aside, there is quite a bit we can do to deter more mice getting into the kitchen.

Blocking interior holes and spaces with wire wool works well. They apparently hate the scratchy metal and it'll fit into tiny gaps; mice can apparently squeeze through even five pence size spaces.

The ones around the kitchen water and waste pipes, in the insulation around gas pipes and at the back of cupboards are difficult to fill, but worth it. Use a chopstick or knitting needle to ram it in properly. If wire wool doesn't fit, crumpled tin foil is almost as good as mice aren't keen on biting through metal.

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Once the inside holes are blocked and they've had a couple of days to leave, the outside ones can be blocked too. Wire wool and cement works well. If they end up trapped they tend to chew new holes, so give them a chance to leave before closing the exterior entry point.

They don't like the smell of mint or peppermint, so growing that near your doors might stop them coming in, as will soaking a cotton wool ball with peppermint essential oil and leaving near where you think they're entering. Replace with fresh oil every five days though otherwise they take the cotton wool for bedding.

Trap the ones you've got – peanut butter on a humane or otherwise trap works well. If releasing, take for a good walk and release in a field. Putting them out in the garden means they'll be back indoors almost as soon as you are.

Make your kitchen as unattractive to mice as you can, sweeping up any stray crumbs, keeping a tight fitting lid on bins and adding a drop of peppermint oil or mint leaves every day, storing food in tins, glass jars or plastic boxes and adding a deterring peppermint oil soaked cotton wool ball to the pots and pans and cutlery drawers. They've gone? Cleaning everywhere with half vinegar, half water and a few drops of peppermint essential oil works well.