How to mouse proof your home
Is it really so bad to have an infestation?
Mice and rats cause more damage to the inside of our homes than any other mammal in the entire world. They spread salmonella, hantavirus and a further 17 different diseases, they spoil food and they chew essential house parts - causing expense and inconvenience, as well as extreme danger when it comes to electrical wires. Mice are phenomenally fertile and one male and female living together can grow into a gang of 20 or more within the matter of a few months.
Cats: The Mouse’s Natural Enemy
Historically we have looked to the domestic cat to be our main source of mouse control, and a good hunting cat can take care of 1,200 mice every year. In addition to the cat, many breeds of dog can be a great deterrent for a mouse infestation, none more so than the terrier group which include notorious ratters such as the Jack Russell Terrier and the Yorkshire Terrier. As good as many pets can be to remove a mouse problem, they can be just as good as attracting them, due to the scent of their pet food. This is easily preventable by switching to a less aromatic pet kibble and feeding the animal indoors. Another animal that can be of great use to you when removing a mouse from your home is the barn owl, who do a great job of hunting mice, rats and gophers in exchange for a small nesting box.
Poison: Not Desirable
The use of poisons is a more short sighted approach and one with undesirable side effects, like the accidental poisoning of other wildlife such as hawks, foxes and owls or even your own pet animals who could eat the bait. Another issue with poisoning is that you have no way of knowing where the poisoned mouse will die and if it is to die in a small cavity within the home then you could be left with an awful smell for many weeks.
Traps: Not for the Squeamish
For many, the ‘seal up, trap up and clean up’ strategy, developed and recommended by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is increasingly popular. However, controversy rages over which trapping method is the most humane. Glue traps will cause a mouse to die a slow and painful death and so are considered much less humane than the more traditional snap traps, which cause a quick kill. Snap traps are widely available and fairly inexpensive, especially when compared to the expense of an untreated mouse infestation. A snap trap will need bait and contrary to the theory of mice loving cheese, it is actually sweet products like chocolate or peanut butter that will attract them more effectively. Lots of traps should be put out at the same time and you will capture more mice on the first night than at any other time. A tip is to put out twice as many traps as you think you have mice.
Seal and Clean
Repeat mice infestations are common, and the key is to seal up all cracks that are larger than one-fourth of an inch with strong material such as metal sheeting, hardware cloth or strong mortar plaster. Tree branches that come within 6 feet of your roof should be trimmed back also.
When conducting the post clean up it is of the essence to protect yourself from the chemicals of your solution and also the bacteria left behind from the mice, so wear rubber gloves and a facial mask. Ensure that no inch is left uncleaned in order to prevent hantavirus becoming airborne, which could be deadly to humans upon ingestion.