Image by Roméo A.

#Mice - Who Stole the Cheese?


Each year consumers throughout the world spend millions of dollars on Mickey’s videos, watches, toys, and theme parks.  Yet, just the thought of mice in our home gives some of us the shivers.   And when the cold weather approaches, mice will start searching for food and a cozy shelter and may find your home just the right place to relax.   As enjoyable as Mickey is, who wants his relatives and friends?  After all, these rascals are considered among the most troublesome and economically damaging rodents in the United States because they consume and contaminate food meant for humans, pets and livestock.

If you are not familiar with mice, they are small, slender rodents that have a slightly pointed nose, small black, somewhat protruding eyes, large sparsely haired ears, and a nearly hairless tail.  They can squeeze through openings slightly more than 1/4 inch in diameter!  They are good athletes too.  In fact, they can jump from a standing position up to 12 inches from the floor, jump from a running start up to 38 inches, and use vertical surfaces as a spring board to gain additional height.   They can also run up almost any vertical surface, including wood, brick, metal pipes, girders, sheet metal, wire mesh, and cables.

A single mouse only eats about 3 grams of food per day, but destroys considerable amounts of food due to its habit of nibbling on many foods and discarding partially eaten items.  They usually contaminate foodstuffs and pet foods with urine, droppings, and hair.  One mouse can excrete up to 100 fecal pellets per day, as well as deposit hundreds of small droplets of urine during its travels.  They can damage insulation inside walls and attics and may gnaw on electrical wiring - creating fire hazards or other malfunctions that are expensive to repair.  Mice may also cause damage to stored items in attics, basements, garages, and damage paintings, books, documents, heirlooms, and other valuable or priceless items that may be impossible to replace.

So how do you find out if Mickey’s friends and relatives are now in residence at your home?  Telltale signs of mice infestation include droppings on trafficked areas and tracks on dusty surfaces, (mouse droppings are about the size of rice grains) fresh gnaw marks on wood or food containers and mouse nests.  Mouse nests are made from fine shredded paper or cloth such as gloves, carpet, and clothes and are usually found in sheltered locations.  Their shelters include boxes, drawers, basements or attics as well as large appliances, such as dishwashers, refrigerators, stoves, and washers and dryers.

In addition to looking for telltale signs, we can use our sense of smell and sound.  House mice have a characteristic musky odor that identifies their presence and you can also listen for gnawing or scratching in walls or attics, especially at night. 

Once you discover that there are mice, the droppings, urine, nests, and carcasses must be carefully cleaned up. Wear rubber gloves or disposable latex gloves.   After the cleanup, change their environment by removing all food sources and clutter. Seal openings that allow rodents movement into and within the structure.  Eliminate easy access to nesting material such as cardboard, fabric, rugs, plastic. 

Mice can get through any hole that will admit the tip of your little finger.   Therefore, seal small holes and cracks with 1/4” wire mesh, keep floor drains tightly sealed and cement or caulk around pipes and cables where they pass through walls. Keep garbage in tightly covered cans.  Feed dogs and cats in a dish, and then take up the food they don't eat.  Don't leave it out for the mice.

Remember, mice can breed quickly.  A female mouse can have several young when she's two months old. Then, two months later, her young will breed. In the meantime, the mother will produce another litter. So, you must keep working to get rid of them.  

There are a number of ways to eliminate mice - some are much more effective than others.  Here are some options:

Electronic devices that produce ultrasonic sound waves or generate electromagnetic fields have been on the market for many years.   However, ultra-sound has not been shown to drive mice from buildings or areas, nor has it been proven to cause above normal mortality in mice populations.  Tests of commercial ultra-sonic devices have indicated that mice may be repelled from the immediate area of the ultrasound device for a few minutes to a few days, but they will nearly always return and resume normal activities.  Evidence points toward these devices not being worth the money, time or effort.

Snap Traps are an effective method of controlling mice.  It requires labor and time.  Snap traps are the cheapest, so use plenty.  This simple inexpensive snap trap is available in many styles from most supply stores, garden centers, hardware stores and feed stores.   Snap traps are recommended where poisons are not advisable (such as in homes, garages and anywhere else where poisons may come in contact with humans, food, pets).  This technique does not rely on inherently hazardous poisons.  It permits the user to view his or her success and it allows for disposal of the mice.

The number one reason that most homeowners fail to control mice with snap traps is they use far too few traps.  Use enough traps so that there will be at least one within the mouse’s home range.  Mice seldom travel far from their shelter and food supply, so traps should be placed no more than 6 feet apart in areas where mice activity is noted.

Use plenty of traps in a room but keep them out of the way of children and pets.  Put them along the wall, in cupboards and drawers, and in other places where mice might run. Make it so a mouse won't have to travel more than 5 or 10 feet to find a trap. Do this because a well-fed mouse likes to stay at home.  A mouse may live for weeks in one corner of a room. Don't expect him to cross the room to find your trap.

Traps should be baited with peanut butter, nutmeat, chocolate candy, dried fruit, or bacon tied securely to the trigger.  Because mice are constantly searching for nesting materials, a small cotton ball, fabric or string, will also work.   Do not use too much bait as the more bait you use, the easier it is for these nimble creatures to remove it.  Make them struggle to get the bait.  In so doing they will apply extra force to the trigger pedal.

Sticky traps or glue traps are easy to use and effective.  They catch mice by means of a pressure sensitive adhesive. When mice attempt to cross these traps, they get stuck - much the way that fly paper catches flies.  Do not place this style of trap outdoors, where they can become wet, dusty, capture wildlife, or lose effectiveness in low temperatures. Do not use glue traps where children or pets may come into contact with the glue.  Glue traps do not need to be baited.

Multiple catch box traps work on the principle that mice enter small holes readily.  The traps then hold the mice by means of one-way doors. These traps may catch many mice in a setting and should be checked and emptied frequently to dispose of captured mice.

Poison baits are commercially available.  Typically, mice will need to eat the bait each day for about a week before they die. Set out poison bait stations in places where you see signs of mice.  Don't let rats empty the bait container. They must feed from the bait each day or they may not die.  If, after a few weeks, the mice are no longer feeding at the bait station, remove the bait.  Don't leave bait out for a long time as it will mold, spoil or cause a poisoning accident.

One drawback with poison baits is that mice may perish within walls or other inaccessible places within buildings.  The decomposing carcass will generate odors as well as provide a breeding ground and food for insects and food for other rodents.  If you use poisons, make sure they are safely away from children.  Don’t be careless with poison baits. 

Other alternatives include getting the family cats involved.   After all, the cats are getting free room and board.  Some cats will catch and kill mice.  However, there are only a few situations where they sufficiently control the mouse population.  Often mice will find many places to hide and rear their young that are out of reach of cats.   While cats cannot eliminate existing mouse populations, they may be able to prevent their return once mice have been controlled.   If you do not have a cat and the above ideas are unappealing or unsuccessful, there is still another alternative.  Hire a pest control company and let them take care of the situation.
Once you've rid your house of mice, don’t relax and forget about them.   New mice will find you.  Be ready to go to war with mice again. #mice #mouse #mousetraps #howtotrapmice #miceinwinter #mousefreehouse #micetraps #pests #pestmanagement #waystotrapmice #micecomeinwinter

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