Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Homestead Tips on Tuesday: What Mom Never Told You About Mice In Your House

Only dirty people have mice, right? WRONG. Growing up we lived in the country, and ever fall, the cooler temps signaled the coming of the mice. From field and forest, they scurried on little paws, seeking the warmth that our house provided. No matter how hard my folks worked to close off any point of entry they could find, the mice would always prevail. Fast forward to my adult life, living in a home that is over 100 years old, set in a rural little village......

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.**


51 comments:

  1. I tried D-con ONCE. All their talk of non-stinky death was LIES. At least one mouse died in the floorboards of my bedroom and I had to sleep on the couch for a week.

    Also stay away from the glue traps, I don't know why I didn't realize that I'd be 'stuck' with a live mouse but my husband wasn't very happy with me when I made him take care of it.

    Snappy traps are the best in my book. We use peanut butter and don't find it licked off too often although it happens occasionally. I like the gluing a peanut idea.

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    1. Those glue traps are just cruel in my opinion...... We snap.... your right, they take care of the problem LOL

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    2. I use a cotton ball covered in peanut butter then secure on the metal bait thing. They will tug the cotton to get it off and snap got em.

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  2. Cats are the answer! If we use a live trap, my husband releases the mice a good ways down the road. And I like your attitude - us vs. them! Thanks for posting

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    1. I didn't want to come across as mean but ya know... it is war! LOL

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  3. Our house was built mouse resistant. Yea that worked for about a year. Our mice are so smart! Peanut butter doesn't work anymore and we have three different types of snap traps which we switch around. We use live traps and give the mice to the dog. She loves it. I had heard about the five gallon bucket trap with various versions. None have been particularly successful. As for the keeping a clean house will keep the mice out. Yea right. The problem is that things we don't consider food is still nutritious for them. Plus our houses are warm, dry, and have a ton of soft nesting choices. Gah!!

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    1. I know what ya mean.... I can't blame them for trying to move in but I will wage war upon their furry little butts when they do! LOL

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  4. The best thing in a mouse trap is a cut in half gumdrop--the big ones. They get their teeth stuck and snap. Sad but it works!

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    1. LOVE that idea!!! Might have to give it a try alongside our super glued peanuts and see which preforms best! LOL

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  5. A year ago September we had a major flood in our area. It flooded all the fields and empty land around our neighborhood. Luckily, we had no damage in the actual neighborhood. But because of the people that lost there houses, they started new construction on all the empty lots and expanded the neighborhood. Well, because of the flooding and the new construction, the field mice were displaced. We ended up with a terrible infestation in our garage. (We managed to keep them out of the house somehow!) We run a concessions business during the summer and store some of the unused product in our garage over the winter months. We ended up waging a major war on the mice! Decon, snap traps, and my husband put together the 5 gallon bucket with a piece of pvc pipe and a soda bottle on it then put peanut butter on the bottle. All 3 worked great! We were catching/killing mice several per day! Then we rented a big roll off dumpster and cleaned out everything that they had ruined! Well we managed to stay mouse free until about October this year. We now have mice in my basement... darn things! So here we go again waging war on the mice! Wish me luck!!

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    1. Oh they will come back every fall now.... they know where you live! LOL

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  6. When I lived in NJ we purchased a home that was constructed on what had been a corn field. Watching tv at night we'd throw pillows at them as they scampered about. Used 12 snap traps with peanut butter or hot dogs each night and caught 12 mice each night! Finally got a cat who slowly de-miced the house. Good luck!

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  7. We have our travel trailer parked up on our future homestead and live in it while we are working on the property. The little deer mice were getting in through all the plumbing and electrical connections! We found that stuffing steel wool in all the nooks and crannies kept them out of our travel trailer! As far as the deer mice goes, these are not only destructive, eating through food, clothing and wiring, but they can be very dangerous as some of them carry the Hanta virus! Because of that, we are super vigilant and also have snap traps all over the place! Have a wonderful New Year, Mindie!

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    1. Deer mice sound awful! Snap the crap out of them!!! LOL Hope 2015 rocks for you!

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  8. We are surrounded by stables and mice do love stables! We have tried many ways to rid ourselves of the "fall" mice. After going through numerous battles, we have won the war with a desiccant. The mice eat the bait and dry up completely. We had it put into the walls of the house and have no more trouble with the mice or any danger to our pets. Thanks for sharing your war on mice with Make It Monday!

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    1. Do they smell when they die after eating it? If it dries up the mice, isn't it also dangerous to pets? I have never heard of such a thing LOL You are making mouse mummies!

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  9. We don't have too many issues with mice inside, just the occasional one when the weather cools off, but we have a few cats and that really helps us. We get the occasional rat and that isn't a lot of fun :-) Thanks for sharing this great post at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

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    1. We have never had a rat (that wasn't a pet LOL) I think I would die if I saw a wild rat scamper across my floor!

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  10. This is so timely! We just killed two mice this week. We've had 3 total over the last 10 years, always in the winter when the cold drives them inside. We don't have a cat and have only found success with snap traps. It's nice to know that other people have this problem too!

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    1. Hubby accidently interrupted our male cat last night and one got away LOL Bad hubby!

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  11. Great information for everyone! We've had a couple of mice in our house over the past six or seven years and it is SO annoying. And I got that same question from our 9 year old . . . . because they are so cute ;o) But they are also very dirty and yucky! Hope to see you again this coming week at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop at Katherine's Corner. Nina @ Vintage Mama's Cottage

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    1. Why do the kids always to keep or bring things into the house?!?!? LOL

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  12. I am hoping you can now see your feature from the finale of Make It Monday. And about your question on the desiccant - yes, they become mouse mummies in the walls and fade to dust. We have never had them run out into the house. Grab you a feature button.

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    1. Mice mummies LOL Thanks for the feature. It was fun hopping with you.

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  13. Great post - I had to chuckle at "I love all of natures creatures in their proper habitat. My home is NOT their proper habitat" - my sentiments exactly! Additionally, I didn't know they could fit into a 1/4 inch hole! Yikes!
    Cats are truly the best imo. ;) I used to live in a basement apartment and my cat Cami was an excellent mouser. Her "kills" were always so tidy looking when she'd leave them on my doormat that I'd sometimes walk up to one and question if it was still alive!

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    1. I do love them, when they are where they belong. LOL I can't help they go from cute to evil once they move into my house. LOL I agree, cats rock. Well a good mouser does.

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  14. Thanks for sharing with us at Simple Lives Thursday; hope to see you again this week.

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  15. I live in the city, right outside DC, and major construction abounds. My neighborhood is lovely, old, established, with many, many old growth trees, and my house is over 100 years old. Yeah, yeah, love God's creatures, but not in MY house. We kill them. Tried all the pellets, traps, etc., none of that crap worked well, and they breed so fast the problem got Out. Of. Control. It was horrible. Now we have two cats, the nifty plastic snap traps (wooden ones didn't work) - that we bait with that "Easy Cheese" (Cheez Whiz?) in a can. The mice love that crap, which is fine, because it sure isn't fit for human consumption. In addition to that, I make a homemade mouse poison that is actual food, and the killer ingredient is powdered concrete. If they DO die in the house, we never know it, because they do not stink. Honest. It dessicates them, and occasionally one of the cats will bat out a dried up dead mouse for me to sweep up. It's been a journey, I'll tell you. There are still some in the house, but they are nowhere near as bold and bodacious as they used to be, walking - not running, WALKING - across the kitchen floor when you're in there cooking or whatever. Those little bustards had to GO.

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    1. Walking?!?! Wow, did they wave too? LOL That is a problem. I have only seen one once or twice, but the cats find them. Ours must be timid country mice vs your bold city mice.

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  16. Great post --and very timely. We have a "trap line" that we check daily, and we've been having success for the past couple of weeks, so you're right when you write that it's the time of year for mice to get inside. I hadn't thought about using the peanut idea, and now I think I'm going to try the gumdrop trick and superglue on of those to the trap. The best traps I've found are along the back wall at TSC -- heavy plastic, not the wooden kind, and they have a "hair trigger" and a nasty snap. You have a good kitty, by the way.

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    1. My kitties needs to get busy! I just saw one last night run across the floor when I flipped the light on. Grrrrrr LOL

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  17. Great article Mindy! I am fortunate that we do not get mice where I live (knocking on wood!) but I have lived places where we've had them - and currently, where I live, we get crickets for some reason!

    So, when I was reading your article, I kept replacing the word Mice with Crickets (ie, CRICKETS do not belong in the house!)

    Fortunately I have a cat who loves to hunt them (although, I've noticed, the older they get - they seem to make a "pact" with them - less outright hunting - more "watching" and letting them escape under the stove and fridge - which means somehow I am now the one hunting them - arrgh!!!)

    Happy New Year to you and thanks for sharing with us at Inspire Me Monday! :-)

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    1. LOL Yes, I have noticed that pact taking place in our home too!! We do have a few crickets loose in our home, but only because hubby accidently lets one get out now and then when he feeds them to the lizard. LOL I love hoping with you and look forward to another great year.

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  18. I am terribly allergic to two things: cats and rodents. We've only ever had problems with mice one year out of the ten that we've lived in my house, but any stumbling upon mice droppings and I get asthma attacks that land me in the hospital. It's especially awful because cats cause the same problem for me.

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    1. Oh my! That sucks that you can't have a cat to get the mice. Good thing you don't have a problem with them.

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  19. Great post, Mindie! My home is nestled into a huge Ponderosa pine forest. My yard backs up to it. Thankfully, mice have not found their way in. We did, however, have a cat (who died a few years ago), who thought it was fun in September to catch mice and let them go (unharmed) in our house. We would hear the scurrying around of cat and mouse after we went to bed. Up we'd get to catch the mouse. We got pretty good at it and back out the door the mouse would go. Around here, Hanta virus is a real (deadly) concern, so we also got really good at sanitizing everything that came in contact with the mice. Ugh! It was always such a chore. Well, best of luck to you with your mice evacuation tactics. And thanks, as always, for sharing at My Flagstaff Home! --Jennifer

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    1. We luckily don't have the Hanta virus up north here. I would be a mess if we did.

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  20. I had rabbits several years ago and an ex-bf who didn't clean up after them (in garage) and not only did I have them in my detached garage they moved into my house where my rabbits were. I used traps which helped and my American Bulldog became obsessed and turned into my mouser, he would fly to the bath/laundry room when he heard the trap snap. They got so bad even with the traps they got into my couch and loveseat and I had to throw out my furniture, found them drowned in the dog's water bowl so I got D-Con and finally got rid of them...talk about living in hell! I would set a trap, it snapped out went the dead mouse, reset and repeat again and again. I hope I never have to deal with that again.

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    1. Holy moly! That's crazy!!! We only have a mouse or two and thankfully the cat does his job.

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  21. This is what we are dealing with now and it sucks. Our neighbor raises mice for snakes for pet stores for a living.

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  22. a lifetime of mouse catching , the only efficient killer is a fat lazy cat , they view the autumn influx as there very own mcdonalds , i do seem to spend endless hours blocking up holes with filler , sometimes i think its all thats holding this crappy rental together

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  23. Our last house was near a field, and mice were always getting in. Now, we live near the woods. There are a ton of stray cats, snakes, and other wildlife. I never see a mouse, and I hope I never do. We keep our own cat around just in case. My husband is also obsessive about keeping holes plugged up. After the last house, we are super paranoid.

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    1. Snakes are good mousers too! I haven't seen a snake around our place in so long :(

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  24. We get mice every Fall, too! Our cat is our best weapon against the invasion! ;-) -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

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    1. Gotta love fall in the country LOL Mouse season.

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  25. I have to laugh when people think cats are always the answer :) Our cats are lazy, lazy, lazy! Actually, my son's cat would go grab a mouse from outside, and bring it into my kitchen to release a LIVE MOUSE. I am sure she did it to spite me LOL. We had to use traps, because you are so right about the poison and rotting mice in the walls...
    Thanks for adding this to From The Farm..it's one of our featured posts this week. Hope to see you again soon!

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    1. Our one cat is a super mouser... the other... Well it is a good thing she is cute LOL Thanks for the feature!!

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