Thinking like a mouse

As it’s getting cold outside mice can be big problems once they have gained access to your interior, not only for the spread of potential disease, but also the damage they may create.

As the temperatures begin to drop, we begin to look for ways to stay warm; the mice population does as well. This becomes a common problem each fall for many Michigan homeowners – a potential of infestation if proactive measures are not taken to eliminate entry.

Food Safety News offers a few suggestions to keep these creatures from entering your domain. To begin with, think like a mouse.

  • If you see any hole, gap or crack leading directly outside, larger than 1/4 inch, it must be filled or sealed. If you can see sunlight, chances are that gap will be large enough for a mouse to squeeze through. Simple fixes like spray foam are just temporary fixes, mice can chew through this. Mice have been known to chew through fireproof insulation, wires, sheetrock, plaster and plywood seeking warmer spaces. To seal these gaps use heavy materials such as concrete mortar, sheet metal or heavy gauge hardware cloth.
  • Keep doors closed when not in use.
  • Be careful of possible exterior burrowing areas. Those straw bales – fall displays on front porches – are a great, warm place for mice to inhabit. If mulch bags, patio cushions or outdoor clothing left in the garage looks like it has been gnawed on, it may have been used for nesting material.
  • Outdoor food for wildlife and pet food can be an attraction for mice, as well as uncovered garbage. Make sure these containers are sturdy and have tight fitting lids.
  • Make household food as inaccessible as possible to the mouse. Store bulk foods in rodent-proof containers; make sure spilled food items and crumbs are cleaned up immediately; a leftover cookie behind a couch cushion can feed a mouse for more than a week!

Mice can be big problems once they have gained access to your interior, not only for the spread of potential disease, but the damage they may create as well. You will want to get them out of the house quickly. Mice have very poor eyesight, but great sense of touch and smell. They tend to travel close to walls, so when setting traps, set at least six or more in the house where they run. Use small amounts of fresh bait, such as peanut butter and chocolate. Believe it or not, experts recommend not using cheese because it tends to go rancid quickly, losing its lure as bait.

It is not recommended to use poisons to control mice in homes. Mice feed on that poison and may die in the home, and as they begin to decay there may be odor causing further problems. There is no scientific evidence to support manufacture claims that ultrasonic or electromagnetic wave devices work to repel mice.

Michigan State University Extension recommends keeping all areas clean and sanitized where you have suspected infestation. Once the problem has been eliminated, thoroughly clean the area where you have seen mice – inspect all food items for possible invasion of the mice, and discard any suspicious items.

Mice have a potential reproduction rate of five to 10 litters a year, with five to six babies in each litter. An unchecked mouse population can grow very quickly! Check all entries to your home, including windows that are near ground level – think like a mouse!

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