Mice are a fact of winter in many areas. They find all sorts of ways to get into our houses through the foundation, an open garage door or small gaps that we may not know exist. Here’s what to do to solve the problem.
1. Don’t feed them. A bag of potato chips left next to the video games, leftovers on the counter that you figure can wait ’til morning, open boxes in the pantry or a cabinet. Even dog and cat food can not only give them something to eat, but give them the motivation to reproduce. The solution is to make sure that everyone knows any food left where a mouse can find it will be found and consumed by the mice. To make matters worse, mice often leave droppings where they eat. Make sure the kids know that an open bag of potato chips left on the rec-room carpet from the night before may not be something they want to finish the next morning.
2. Know the hot spots. Mice like dark, enclosed spaces. They also gravitate towards areas where there are both food and water sources. One of the reasons they favor basements is because water is sometimes available either around a sump pump or from condensation. If you have a finished basement any snacks or food dropped on the floor just adds to the attraction. If you want a place to start, the basement is a logical choice followed by the kitchen.
3. Mouse trap 101. There are a variety of alternatives when it comes to mouse traps. There’s the standard spring-trap, plastic variations, glue traps, mouse poison and some new contraptions including a catch and release trap for the feint-of-heart. All are to some degree dangerous to pets and small children especially the poison. If you have pets or small kids, take a pass on the poison. Mouse poison can cause severe illness and death for kids and pets depending on the amount ingested and their weight.
However, the standard spring traps can also present a problem to small, inquisitive fingers and paws. Make sure you place the trap in one of those enclosed spaces that’s out of reach for toddlers and pets, and check them daily in case you’ve caught one. To dispose of a mouse the trap and the mouse should both be discarded. If you choose to use a glue trap be forewarned, it’s quite possible that the mouse will still be alive when you find it in the trap and it can be a but unsettling to simply discard the trap with the mouse, knowing that it will take a while for it to expire.
4. Mousetrap alternatives. There are some high-tech solutions that are typically designed for large areas in commercial and industrial areas. Some kill the rodents, others offer a catch and release option. If you have a chronic problem you might want to consider this alternative, but they are expensive although relatively safe around children and pets.
5. Don’t get complacent. After you’ve caught a mouse or two, don’t assume the battle is over. You might want to keep a trap or two in key locations or at least tucked away in the basement. The simple fact is that if one or two mice found there way into your house, chances are good that more will follow.
On a final note, opinions on the best bait for traps vary. Many people suggest peanut butter, but I have seen many spring traps carefully licked clean of the peanut butter without springing the trap. I still go with old fashioned cheese. I prefer the soft, processed cheese because it doesn’t dry out. I press it into the tab that springs the trap, and most times it works because the mouse has to apply some pressure to retrieve the bait. That’s up to you, but if you have them in the house you’re sure to get a bit of experience as the winter wears on.