And just like clockwork, the cooler temps signaled the coming of the mice. I was now on the front-line of "defending" my home.... and I too have been outwitted by the beady eyed, long whiskered, scampering across my floor, little invaders. But let me say this in my defense..... just because they make it in, doesn't mean they make it out alive. I may not find ever little entry point, but I will wage war upon their furry little behinds once they cross into my territory!
How they get in.....
Did you know a mouse can squeeze through a 1/4 inch hole!!! We are talking about the size of a pencil. Seriously, they can! It is not your fault these little buggers manage to get in your house. I know I will never find every 1/4 inch entry way. But how do they do it!?!? They do NOT have collapsible skeletons as some rumors suggest.... it is much worse.
Nature has designed mice to squeeze into and live in tight spaces. The fur on a mouse makes it appear larger than it really is. If you could see a naked mouse, you would see just how tiny they are. They have long, narrow bodies. They are equipped with strong little legs. And the worst part of all...... they don’t have collar bones. The only limitation a mouse has, is its skull. If they can fit their head in, the rest will follow! It's not your fault they get in, it's Mother Nature's!!!
Once they are in, what to do....
There are many options out there for "removing" mice from your home. I am only going to cover a few that I see as cons and a few that work well for us.....
- Live traps - While it is always nice to love your fellow creatures and be as humane as possible, just remember..... The mouse you trap and turn loose outside.... he already know where you live and how he got in the last time. Think about it. Maybe that seems harsh..... Don't get me wrong, I love all of natures creatures in their proper habitat. My home is NOT their proper habitat.
- Poisons - Sure you can go buy some d-con and be done. It seems easy enough, doesn't it? But keep in mind, it is POISON. The mice may eat it, but who knows where they will drop dead! There is nothing like the smell of rotting mouse in your walls. And if they do die outside, what other animal in the food chain might eat it and ingest that poison?!? Not to mention if your pet accidentally consumes some. Poisons are not the way to go.
- A good cat - While this method does require feeding and some litter box cleaning, a good mouser is worth it's weight in gold. I love walking into the kitchen, flipping on the light, and seeing one of our cats in total concentration, staring under the stove. I usually turn the light of and turn right back around to leave the cat to its work.
- Snap traps - I know killing is wrong, but so is leaving mouse poop in my cabinets! "But they just eat my (fill in the blank) and leave!" This is where you have to get tricky. Remember mice look bigger, and thus heavier, then they really are. They can lick your peanut butter off your trap all day long. You have to play to the greedy side of the mouse. Grab a peanut and super glue that bad boy to the trap!! Once Mr. Mouse starts tugging at it.... *snap*
Myths and misconceptions.....
Now, I know some people say peppermint oil, moth balls, and the smell of cat urine work to deter mice. We have cats and trust me, a determined, cold, hungry mouse will not be deterred. Not to mention if you have mice, they are always in a cycle of reproduction. The smell of peppermint oil is not going to make them leave their nest of young. Little beeping machines? Really? Mice can put up with the noise of a busy household, how is a little beeping machine going to bother a mouse!?! Deterrents just don't work folks. Ask an expert. Go ahead, make a few phone calls...... Save your money!
"But what if I just keep my house super clean?" People who have mice are not "dirty" people. And try as you may, you will never find ever food source they can. They will eat crumbs dropped by your child. They will nibble your pet's food. Let's face it, no one lives in a competently sterile environment!
Where to place your traps....
Mice are not drawn to baits over long distances. In other words, if you see a mouse in the kitchen, put the trap in the kitchen. Place traps behind large pieces of furniture or other dark nooks and crannies that are ideal hiding places for mice. Mice do not like being out in the open, they follow pathways around rooms like your baseboards. They dart behind your fridge or couch. Part of war is learning your enemy..... watch, observe and then place your traps.
|Who's my good girl!?! Her first mouse ever!|
Maybe it is the common sense country girl in me, but you will never find all the 1/4" openings, though you should do your best to try. You will never live in a completely food source free home. Deterrents fail. The happy feeling of catch and release is just that, a feeling.... Mice tossed back to nature during cooler temps will die of either hypothermia or by predictor. Or worse yet, they will be back. The only way to rid your home of mice is to declare war! Take them out by safe means... track their movements, find their nests and eliminate them!
*** I want to apologize to my oldest country kid (8 year old son), No, honey, you can NOT keep them as pets. No matter how cute YOU think they are.... they do NOT belong in our house. ***
**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**