How to keep critters out of your home (plus a giveaway)

Last year, we launched Mission: Squirrel Eradication after discovering a family of vermin had taken up residence in our attic and were partying like it’s 1999.


I caught this guy staring at me through our master bedroom window. Creepy, right?

The party was over, however, when we discovered how much stinkin’ damage these cute, furry “limb rats” had caused. The squirrels had gnawed through a substantial amount of our wiring! If you’re in the mood for a laugh, you can read all about our squirrel saga and my painful attic excursion here.

So this year, as temperatures drop and people aren’t the only ones rushing to get indoors out of the cold, I’m getting a lot more serious about keeping critters from getting into our house in the first place.

Apparently, experts agree that exclusion – creating physical barriers against rodents and pests to keep them out of a home – is more effective than attempting to remove them once they’ve made it inside. Uh. Yea, I believe that. It’s also a whole lot cheaper, I’m sure.

Here are a few other interesting facts about rodents courtesy of Xcluder™ Rodent and Pest Defense:

  • Rodents can squeeze through an opening as small as 1/4 inch, climb wires and rough surfaces, jump considerable distances and gnaw through wood, fiberglass, plastic and even certain concrete.
  • In the United States, rats cause an estimated $19 billion per year in damages.
  • Given adequate food and shelter, a single pair of rats can multiply into 640 within a year.
  • Rats bite more than 45,000 people each year.
  • Some experts believe the total number of rats living in the United States is as high as 1.25 billion. Ew.
  • It’s estimated that 25 percent of all fires attributed to “unknown causes” are probably started by rodents gnawing on gas lines, electrical wiring and matches.
  • Rats can exert the same jaw pressure as an adult crocodile, which is why they can chew through lead pipes.
  • Rats can tread water for as long as three or four days, and they can swim more than half a mile. It is not uncommon for them to access a home through the toilet. Terrifying.
  • House mice constantly give off micro-droplets of urine as they travel around a home. Ew again. 
  • A female house mouse can birth up to a dozen babies every three weeks – as many as 150 a year.
  • The most common rodent entryways include brick weep holes, exterior doors, open garage doors, windows, air vents, fireplaces, and at points where electrical, water, gas, sewer, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning lines enter a home.

So I got myself an Xcluder Rodent and Pest Barrier Kit and went on a mission to look for any crevices around our home where rodents might attempt to squeeze in.


I found a spot right away where our HVAC system enters our basement. We’ve already had issues with bees getting in through this hole, so I figured there’s no time like the present to plug it.

The Xcluder kit comes with a 4-inch by 3-foot piece of material, scissors and a set of gloves.


I trimmed a piece of the material to fit the space, then shoved it into the hole.



Done. Apparently, in addition to rodents, this stuff is also effective against flying insects (bees, check), bats and crawling insects. Also, unlike steel wool, it won’t rust or degrade over time, and it compresses during installation to “spring back” once in place to create a more effective seal.

I still have to make a trip to the attic, sigh, to check for and plug some holes up there. I’m hoping this stuff does the trick and the rodents stay outside where they belong this year.

If you want to take a proactive approach to keep critters from getting into your home this winter (I recommend this approach over trying to get them out), the folks at Xcluder are giving away four Xcluder Rodent and Pest Barrier kits to four lucky blog readers.

You can enter to win one below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will be open for entries until 11:59 p.m. (EST) Nov. 20. Winners must respond within 72 hours of being chosen or a new winner will be selected.

Or if you don’t want to wait for the giveaway to get a kit, you can purchase one here.

Special thanks to Xcluder for providing me with barrier kits for my home and this giveaway. 

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31 Responses

  1. teresa says:

    How timely! The probem may be finding the entry point for mice, but I’m determined. Thanks for the chance.

    • Susan says:

      Sure, Teresa. I found a few cracks in the garage between the drywall and floor that were inviting mice and chipmunks, so there’s a place to look, too.

  2. JoAnn says:

    Something you dont often think about…thanks!

  3. Clark F says:

    Now that I’ve moved from the city into the burbs, I guess it’s something I know have to think about.

  4. Phyllis says:

    Having 4 cats, we don’t have a rodent problem. Although we have 2 skunks that have become a problem. We have 1 cat who likes to challenge the skunks & it never ends well for said cat. After being sprayed more then once, she continues to challenge the skunks. If I won the Pest Barrier, I would give it to my sister in law who does have a mouse problem. She lives in a mobile home which have numerous openings for mice entry

  5. Pam O. says:

    Never leave the garage attic door down in the summer for ventilation as it is an open invitation for them and raccoons…..

  6. Shelby says:

    We live in a 1940s built home and I don’t know how many packages it would take to seal us up, but even winning ONE would be a good start!

  7. Jane says:

    We live in a wooded area so there are lots of critters lurking around. Thanks for the chance to keep them out.

  8. Mary Keiper says:

    We have alot of chipmunks and squirells around our home, I have never heard of this product. thank you for posting information. I will try.

  9. laurie riddle says:

    I fear and loathe rodents! Would love the extra help to keep them at bay.

  10. Carol says:

    With cold weather coming, field mice start looking for warmth!

  11. Angie W says:

    This would be so helpful. Squirrels have been driving me nuts (get it Nuts?) this year. I know, it’s not funny.

  12. Carol S. says:

    We live in the woods. Critters are always squeezing into every nook and cranny in search of a warm place to nestle and whatever else they do. This seems like the perfect solution.

  13. Kim R says:

    I call squirrels “rats with pretty tails” and know firsthand the mess they can make. Unfortunately I have experience with mice and rats, too.
    We have a new mountain home that we only use on the weekends, and I want to keep all of those varmints out and the snakes, too. I am ready to be proactive about it.

  14. Paulette Smith says:

    We live in the woods and we have had problems with field mice coming in through the garage, bees inside the siding, etc. we even had to replace some wiring on my husbands tractor…rats just LOVE it

  15. Peggy says:

    Perfect timing! We live in the country and the mice are starting to come in. Yuck! I do not like the little varmints! We were talking about putting some steel wool around the plumbing, but this looks like a superior idea! I am going to look for this at the farm store.

  16. heather says:

    Good timing. Our cat has been acting curious in certain areas and we were just talking about mice getting in. Ugh!
    Going to look into this product!

  17. Cindy Stone says:

    “limb rats” that has to be a Bob Allenbaugh name. LOL I can hear him saying that and then chuckling after. I have a squirrel story that tops all, but too long to type. If I see you sometime, ask and I will tell it. 🙂

  18. Elaine says:

    Mice! I hate mice more than anything else! Hopefully the new siding and windows will help this fall. Have my fingers crossed!

  19. Deb says:

    Good to know about this…never even thought about how they can get in – but what to prevent them from coming in is great info – Xcluder! Who knew?! Thanks for that info!

  20. Sylvia says:

    I have always used steel wool to plug up holes, but it sounds like this product is superior to steel wool. I will give it a try.

  21. Carrie says:

    I would love to make sure i can keep out critters…. rats and squirrels from the grage and florida room also the shed would be great too

  22. Erin N. says:

    We live in a very old farmhouse. I dread seeing mice in our house, especially when winter arrives and their activity level picks up. We use good old-fashioned mouse traps & I have tried all the “tricks” to keep them away. At the very least, our house smells good because it’s littered with Irish Spring soap bars!

  23. Heather G says:

    Recently moved to a new house. Seems I’m hearing all sorts of noises and there are squirrels galore. This product sure seems easier than caulk or foam.

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