≡ Menu
How to Patch Holes in the Wall to Keep Mice and Rats Out post image

How to Patch Holes in the Wall to Keep Mice and Rats Out

A quick, easy, and cheap way to prevent against rodents entering into your hotel room or apartment.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

If there’s a hole in your wall there is a good chance that some rodent or other little critter will use it to get into your room, nibble on your food, crap on your things, and otherwise wreak havoc. Therefore, unless there are few other options, never move into a hotel room or apartment that has holes in the wall. Punto. Or if you do PATCH them holes up quick. Here’s how:

I made an error of judgement when I selected my apartment in China. I made sure that the place was adequately furnished, that it was large enough, that the water, electricity, and appliances all functioned properly, but I ignored the holes in the walls. In point, Chinese workmanship has generally not yet caught up with the country’s projected image as a modernized new world economic powerhouse, and half done/ half assed carpentry jobs are fearfully the norm. To put it simply, the holes in the walls did not look too out of place in the context of my surroundings.

A big mistake, it turned out.

mouse hole

A hole is on the other side of this mystery pipe that sticks out of my walk and connects to nothing.

As spring and summer past by I would sometimes hear little critters scamper around above my apartment’s ceiling but nothing ever entered into my domicile. I didn’t worry about it and ignored the holes in the walls. Then the weather began getting a little colder and a gang of rats and mice (yes, both) came in with the autumn.

Within three days it was an all out invasion.

They would come in during the night or when they thought no human was home. Their shit littered our counter tops, they nibbled on our carrots, and the sounds of them rummaging or gnawing resonated trough the nights. One rather large rat scampered right past my foot one evening and looked completely comfortable and confident in the maneuver — he knew right where he was going, he’d been here before.

It was time to take action. Not wanting to acknowledge the fact that China has still not eradicated the plague yet, I did some research and found a simple solution for temporarily blockading holes in walls against the intrusion of rodents which was so simple and cheap that it could easily be employed by travelers staying in hotels or hostels. This temporary solution involved nothing more than steel wool and some heavy duty tape (such as duct or packing tape). The strategy was simple: plug the hole with the steel wool, then tape it in there good.

Rodent hole patch kid

Rodent hole patch kit: steel wool and tape.

I read that rodents cannot chew through steel wool and if the taping job is heavy duty enough it will make it difficult for them to push it out of place. I put this method to the test, I clogged some steel wool into the holes and taped it in.

On the first night I could hear rats simultaneously trying to chew their way through all three of the holes that I patched up. Yes, it was unnerving. I monitored the blockades, and they seemed as if they were going to hold. Three days later and they are still unbroken.

I don’t know how long this patch job will work for — I imagine hungry rodents will eventually be able to push through them when the tape begins to lose its stickiness or they’ll just find another way in — but it provided me with enough time to come up with an exit strategy (i.e. move in with friends), find a new apartment, and move out.

wall patch

All patched up.

If you discover holes in the wall of your hotel room, taking preemptive action to prevent against unwelcome guests is incredibly easy and cheap. All it takes is a little steel wool, some heavy duty tape, and five minutes of time. Sometimes in travel it’s ultimately easier and more beneficial to just fix up your rooms yourself rather than waiting around for some sympathetic hotel owner or landlord to come save your ass. Rather than taking a chance that mice or rats may enter your room through a hole in the wall just patch it up and get it done and over with — if I’d done this from the start I probably would not have faced the rodent invasion that dove me out of my latest abode.


The only way I can continue my travels and publishing this blog is by generous contributions from readers. If you can, please subscribe for just $5 per month:


If you like what you just read, please sign up for our newsletter!
* indicates required
Filed under: Accommodation, Travel Tips

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3722 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: New York City

11 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • Jack October 17, 2012, 10:22 am

    Ugh 🙁 That’s enough to make me leave in a hurry. Good tip you have, but I don’t think I’d ever use it, I’d be gone faster than you can say…..

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard October 18, 2012, 8:16 am

      Haha, for sure. That’s the good thing about staying mobile: we can retreat when the rats attack. When in situations like Roxy is in — where you’ve made a commitment to stay somewhere — that’s when you have stay and fight.

      Link Reply
  • Rox October 17, 2012, 10:31 am

    We were invaded in Brooklyn. Yes, steel wool does the trick for a time, but sadly, they’ll just start to gnaw on another part of the wall to get in. If you want to catch the little buggers, here’s the way to do it: you’ll need something delicious for them, a paper towel tube, some string and a bin with or without glue paper (your choice) Tie the string to the end of the tube and attach it to something that will hold the tube when it goes over the edge of the counter. Put something delicious at the end that is dangling over the edge of a counter. Mice cannot resist a long dark tunnel that smells delicious. They will crawl into the tube, the tube tips over, the mouse falls into the bin. Your choice if you want to kill them or not. I did. Glue traps and then drown them in some water so they don’t suffer. You can catch A LOT of mice this way. I did three in one night with one tube. (Also, they screamed for some time before I got to the kitchen to deal with them the next morning. Never saw another mouse after that. Maybe the screaming freaked all the other mice out.) Good luck and wash EVERYTHING. The little buggers are incontinent.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard October 18, 2012, 8:19 am

      This is amazing. Next time I’ll try it.

      Link Reply
  • mercury October 17, 2012, 2:23 pm

    Rats can chew through concrete, so eventually they’ll find a way in. The only long term solution is death and near perfect hygiene and building maintenance. Peanut butter is like crack cocaine for rodents. They simply can’t resist the stuff. Next time you face an invasion consider setting out traps. New apartment buildings that don’t have leaky pipes and crumbling walls are a lot less likely to harbor large rodent populations than older, run down buildings. Hope your new place works out better.

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard October 18, 2012, 8:20 am

      Right on. It was just amazing how quickly the invasion happened. Our next place I’ll take better preemptive action.

      Link Reply
  • Lynne Diligent October 18, 2012, 3:57 pm

    Well, thankfully, this is one problem I have not yet encountered as an expat!

    Link Reply
    • Wade Shepard October 18, 2012, 9:38 pm

      Good to hear that. If we get ousted again we may need to seek refuge in Morocco 🙂

      Link Reply
  • NYGriego74 January 7, 2016, 5:20 am

    I have a hole, wide as a nickel, directly over my wall outlet. Should I worry or will they be greeted by the voltage? 🙂 If I should worry then what can I use to fill the hole? Steel wool in a hole over an outlet doesn’t seem safe lol…

    Link Reply
  • Dani January 17, 2019, 5:41 pm

    Thank you for your article I’m currently doing this to keep the mice out of the house as our landlady refuses to help!!!

    Link Reply
  • J November 6, 2021, 12:19 am

    Sprinkle glass shards from a smashed bottle into the steel wool. 1 bite into that and the rats 🐀 will run 🏃 for the hills. Tape rap into a loose ball as possible then tape the wall.

    Link Reply