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Mouse House

The other day, I wondered if we had another mouse; there was a pecan rolling around in the back hall. Today, I opened the pantry closet (off of the hall) to get the dustpan. I decided to rearrange a few things on the floor of the closet to make room for a case of tomato paste. I pulled a jug of Muscadine cider out of the corner and discovered a happy little bed of shredded insulation, lined with the remnants of gnawed pecan shells.

It's helpful to have a basket of nuts around as an indicator. I also suspect that the pantry is where mice enter the house, when we have them. When remodeling the back hall/bathroom area, the previous owners failed to replace a piece of baseboard in the closet, leaving a nice little opening to who-knows-where in the walls/beneath the house. At least that's something easy to fix that I can add to my project list.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 3rd, 2008 10:13 pm (UTC)
We can hear one currently chewing something in the ceiling of our basement. What do you do to get rid of them? We have an electronic noise thingie in the kitchen that keeps 'em out of there, but I don't know what to do for the house as a whole. Help?
Mar. 4th, 2008 07:39 am (UTC)
Sounds like your electronic noise thingie in the kitchen is causing them to take up residence in other areas of the house!

We seem to get about 1-2 mice a year, usually when it's dry and/or cold. The thing about mice is, they're so small that they can get in anywhere there's a hole the size of their head (about 1/4 inch); they can squeeze the rest of their body right through. The obvious solution is to close up all the gaps, but that practically requires hermetically sealing the house. And besides, they can still run through an open door.

If you have any sort of crawl space or exposed area under the house, you could have gaps that you don't even know about. (This is where I think ours come in. They get under the house and find crevices in the flooring or around the top of the basement wall where the central heating ducts were cut through.) If you have any ventilation grates on the outside foundation or around a porch, make sure they are backed by a fine wire mesh. You can also get bars of rodent bait (poison) that you can drop behind these places; occasionally our exterminator does this. Just be careful where you put it; it can kill dogs, squirrels, chipmunks and anything else that can get to it.

Beyond minding the gaps, you're mostly playing damage control. Once the mice are in, you need to catch them, or they'll set up house and may even--eek!--procreate. Your best bets are a) a cat (no joke--they're good for bugs, too), or b) mousetraps. Of all the types on the market, I've found the standard snap-traps to be the most effective. Tuck a piece of cheese--or better yet, smear some peanut butter--on a couple and set them out overnight in a corner or against the wall in the target area. We've never gone more than a couple of nights without catching our invaders using this method.

The key to being able to use traps effectively is knowing where the center of mouse activity is. Mice forage for food relatively close to their nest--within a few yards. They also like to run around the perimeter of things (rooms, cabinetry, furniture); it's important to put the traps in their path so that they'll stop to investigate. We've got a basket of pecans on our hearth; when I find stray pecans in a corner or under a radiator, I know where to start. If you place traps and aren't successful after a night or two, you're probably not on the "circuit" and should try moving them around to different areas. Inside an attic access or ceiling panel or around any wall or floor vents are also good places to experiment, because they do come out of the walls/ceilings/floors for food.

Finally, they make glue boards which you can place just like traps; the mice get stuck on them and die of suffocation. Personally, the idea of extended suffering doesn't appeal to me, so I've always just used the snap-traps. They're also less messy and are reusable.

Hope that helps some. Mice have pretty regular patterns, so it really is just a matter of stumbling onto what they are in your home. Good luck! I'm currently trying to figure out how to get the squirrels to stop using our roof as a jungle gym.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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