Of Mice and Wires

These ideas will help save your wiring harnesses from the tiny teeth of hungry rodents.

Steve Thompson, Progressive Farmer's Ask the Mechanic, looks for a better mouse repellent. (Progressive Farmer image by Larry Fleming)

Editor's Note: When you ask someone how to build a better mousetrap, you should expect a few ideas to come back your way. Progressive Farmer's Ask The Mechanic columnist Steve Thompson is used to answering questions about wiring problems--especially those caused by rodents. And, Steve had a thought. But, we'll let him tell you …


I was kicking around the problem of wires damaged by farm mice with the rodent-control specialists at the local coffee shop the other day. The thought came to me that I would write a special article using the many varied solutions Progressive Farmer readers have sent telling me how they deal with this annoying and expensive problem.

Since mice like to look for food and shelter when the weather turns colder, this is a perfect time to pass reader ideas along before these critters move into your combine or tractor, and call it home for the winter.

It seems that most of us have had profits eaten up (literally) by these hungry little visitors, with millions spent annually on parts and service calls necessary to repair damaged electrical wiring and components.


I have learned to dislike mice. After the last $2,000 I spent on my John Deere 7130 main engine wiring harness, I declared war on mice. I even threw away the mouse for my computer.

But, I think you will agree that all readers who contributed to help solve this problem deserve a big "thank you." No matter what the mice ate or where you have had a mouse problem, you will find a solution from the list provided below. Good luck and good hunting.

> Ken Pippin, Geneva County, Alabama. Sprinkle crushed red pepper on the wires and along rodent trails.

> Alfred Will, Montrose, Illinois. Put grease on the wires. Central Petroleum Co.'s grease works great.

> Bev Allen, southeastern Wyoming. Sprinkle cut or ground bars of Irish Spring Original soap in your machines.

> Richard King, Bastrop, Louisiana. Mix a half-cup of vinegar with 1 1/2 cups of water and 20 drops of peppermint oil, and spray on the thresholds and windowsills.

> Bob Feuss, Lost Nation, Iowa. Place a few mothballs in the cabs and on the motors

> Francis and Helen Puype, Greeley, Colorado. Place Bounce dryer sheets around the machinery.

> Keith Wilbanks, Plano, Texas. I have found that if I disconnect the batteries on equipment stored for winter, mice seem to leave it alone. The electrical circuit puts off a buzz that attracts mice.

> Milly Welsh, Davidsonville, Maryland. Place rodenticide in a piece of PVC pipe. Cap the ends and cut a hole in the end caps that will allow a rodent to crawl in and eat the bait (make sure the hole is too small for a dog or cat to get to the bait. Place these feeding stations around machinery. You can check the quantity by shaking the bait trap.

> Aletha S. Eyre, Carson City, Nevada. Place a pie pan mixed with half cornmeal and cement, and a second pie pan filled with water where rats and mice are found. The unwanted visitors will eagerly gobble up the cornmeal/cement mixture and then drink the water.

> David Mertell, Independence, Missouri. Hang cow fly/insect tags around the place using zip ties. Hang them around the engine area, under the dash, in the glove box, behind the seat and in toolboxes. Not recommended for use in a kitchen.

> C.G. Cleveland, Paradise, Texas. Place glue boards in the cab and in tight areas under the hood, behind wiring harnesses and behind the instrument panel.

> Kenny Robertson, Brownsboro, Texas. I throw salt on the floor around my combine each fall when I put it up for the winter. Throwing some rock salt around bales of hay stored outside keeps the mice away. It burns their feet.

> Dennis Immel, Adair, Iowa. Place 6-inch aluminum siding on its side in a circle around tires on cars, RVs, tractors and combines on a concrete floor. The siding works great and is clean and safe for animals.

> Gaylon Pasley, Trenton, Texas. I'm from the old-school. I use big mousetraps. The poison that I buy these days is too weak for Texas-sized rats.

> Charles Ivy, Jackson, Mississippi. I recommend Venom M-Bomb-R in tractors and trucks. Has worked for me for years.

> Robert A. Long, Millbury, Ohio. When shelling corn, a Bounce clothes freshener fell out of my shirt. I placed it on the console, and next morning, cab smelled great. I don't have to replace wiring anymore since I put Bounce in every cab when in storage. No problems in 10 years.

> Ralph Hove, Fosston, Minnesota. I put a few drops of oil of peppermint (not extract) on cotton balls and leave in cabs and under hoods. The mice stay away.

> Bob Crittenden, Afton, Iowa. Had a convertible car that the mice loved to chew. They built nests in the glove compartment. Put pop (we call them soda water or Coke in Texas) flats containing a handful of mothballs in the trunk, front floorboard and under the hood. Mothballs smell better than mice.

> James Garner, Spiceland, Indiana. I tape treated baler twine to wiring harnesses to stop damage. A small ball of treated twine around wiring harnesses and in cabs and control boxes will keep mice away.

> Jim and Karen Naylor, Dayton, Idaho. Stuffing Bounce dryer sheets under dash, between seats and under seats makes the cab smell good in trucks, and mice stay away, even in grain trucks.

> Brad Hennen, Ghent, Minnesota. A company called Electriduct sells a product called Flexo, which is an expandable braided wire cover available in various sizes. Also, a company called Jiangnan Cable makes rodent-resistant wires and cables.

> Bryan May, Rose Creek Minnesota. A product called Fresh Cab works great. It smells like, well, no one likes the smell. Open a window.

> Danny Gentry, Princeton, Missouri. Get a couple of chickens. They will catch more mice than a cat. Plus, chickens will leave you an egg or two for breakfast. Cats don't do that.

> Mark Riedy, Hope, Kansas. The best thing to do with a rodent problem is to buy comprehensive repair insurance on your equipment while you are trying to figure out how to get rid of them. It should cover everything outside the deductible as long as you have chewed wires to show.

> J.W. Willis, Elm Grove, Louisiana. The best thing I have ever found is a Victor PestChaser (Google it. They're real, and they kill cockroaches, too). A solution if you do not have an electrical supply is to take a 5-gallon bucket with a lid. Bore a 1 1/4-inch hole at the bottom, and put large chunks of rodent bait in bucket. Pets and wildlife cannot get to the poison in the hole. That works great.

> Jack Miller, Crestview Hills, Kentucky. Honda mouse tape is available from a Honda dealer or online from Amazon. The tape contains a chemical that mice don't like.

> Richard Larimore, Bement, Illinois. I use lavender clothes dryer sheets in all cabs. Smells better than mothballs, and they really work.

As shown by the many "how-to" ideas, almost everyone has been "bitten" by this problem. Dryer sheets seem to be a popular fix. They keep the mice away and make your cab smell pretty. That's a "twofer" if ever I saw one.