Getting in Out of the Cold: Mice want in!
The past couple of months have romanced us mid-westerners with beautiful weather. But colder temperatures are inevitable; time to turn on the heat and start a fire. But as we start to cozy and warm up with a pot of soup or chili other things may be trying to enjoy the warm as well.
The common house mouse is more than a pest. This little four-legged furry creature takes up residence in the dark places in a home and feeds on human and pet food. The house mouse is grey or brown, only around six inches in length not including a four-inch tail, and weighs 1/2-ounce at full adulthood. Despite its small size, most people are very frightened of mice and thousands of dollars are spent each year on ridding interior spaces of them.
Mice can squeeze into a space as small as ¼ inch space, about the size of a pencil. They are able to scale walls vertically and can jump 13 inches in height. Their feces carry bacterium that causes salmonella and they gnaw at any surface including wood and plastic causing structural damage. Keeping them out is ideal, but if you experience a mouse in the house, maintaining a clean, sanitized home will prevent them from feeding, which they do often, making traps more enticing.
Mice love grains, so protect cereals and other boxed foods closed with a clip or invest in airtight containers. Never leave food out and wipe down surfaces after food preparation or eating. Leave mice without a place to hide by closing any holes ¼ inch or larger using steel wool and mixed with spackle. Fill in holes with spackle but make sure the repair is smooth to prevent mice from gnawing on edges. Check openings around plumbing and fill in any spaces around the pipes. Mice are unable to gnaw steel wool, making it the perfect substance to keep them from spreading.
Mice will make nests in dark places, especially since the female can produce between five and 10 litters each year with each litter producing five or six young. Mice make nests from shredded paper, so keep your house from becoming the maternity ward by discarding paper and closing doors and drawers to keep them out. They will not be able to survive in large numbers without places and supplies to build nests.
Mouse traps are effective in catching mice and there are various types to choose from. Wood snap traps are inexpensive and work, but not ideal for those of us that don’t want to see or touch a dead mouse. There are also hotel-style traps that capture a mouse, allowing the whole unit to be discarded with the mouse inside. Traps are most effective when the surrounding areas are clean and sanitized and food sealed, making the traps more appetizing. Bait traps with peanut butter or dried fruit and wait for the snap.
Poison is also effective but be careful about using poison around pets and children. Popular today are sound and other electronic devices that emit sound waves that drive or keep out rodents. These devices do not work through walls and furniture. Mice also get used to sound making the device only effective for a short time.
Do not panic if you see a mouse, remember you are the bigger person!