Soon it will be the time of year when mice start looking for a place to spend the winter. And one of the places they may be looking at is your house.
Mice can enter a house in a variety of ways. So you want to seal up every opening they can find. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.
The common house mouse weighs about an ounce, has a two-inch-long body and can slip through a hole just a little bit bigger than a pencil.
Every building has a pipe that goes through a wall somewhere. And most times, the space around the pipe is big enough for a mouse to get through.
Such spaces can be easily plugged with steel wool; use wire mesh on bigger holes.
You also want to look at all your doors and see how they seal, garage doors in particular provide convenient entry points for mice. Make sure there is good weather stripping around all doors, especially on the bottom.
When mice have already infiltrated a house or apartment, there are two basic options: trapping them or poisoning them; trapping is more labor-intensive.
One of the most effective traps is the familiar Victor snap trap made out of a piece of flat wood, a tightly wound spring and a triggering platform that holds the bait.
The problem is, a lot of people are afraid of these traps. They’re scared they’re going to whack their fingers.
For them there are a number of other traps available that are less intimidating and easier to set.
The keys to using traps effectively lie in the number used, their positioning and the bait.
If you’re not starting with a dozen traps, you’re not serious about catching mice.
The traps should be placed wherever there are mouse droppings — often, behind appliances — and along the perimeter where the wall meets the floor.
You want them perpendicular to the wall, with the baited end closest to the wall.
As for bait, cheese only works in cartoons. A dab of peanut butter works great, and if the mice are not interested in that, a good alternative is a cotton ball with a few drops of vanilla flavoring.
For those who would rather not have a dozen or more traps baited for the meandering mouse, another option is poison.
One drawback to poison is that if the mice die inside the house, you could have an odor problem.
Traditional mouse poisons are blood thinners. The mice eat the bait and bleed internally; the idea that a poison will make the mice so thirsty that they will go outside to find water is “an old wives’ tale.
Another problem with poison is that what’s bad for a mouse is probably going to be bad for a cat, dog or child. So it is important to follow the directions when using poisons.
Many people believe that if they place poisons behind an appliance or in the basement, they are safe. They may be out of sight, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe from a dog or cat or an inquisitive child.
If a poison is going to be used indoors, it is best to place it in a special tamper-resistant container, which should then be secured to the surface so that it can’t be moved.