Women Not Dabbling In Normal was asked about how to keep food storage places free from mice on our discussion list. I thought this would be a great opportunity to talk about rodents and how pesky they can be.
Wolf and I live in a small mobile home but that doesn’t stop the mice from using our warm and dry domicile to use as a living space, especially in the winter. We’ve tried to plug up all the holes the mice can come in though that’s proven to be difficult. Of course, pipes and electrical wires must come in thus holes have been created in the sub-floor which allows mouse access.
The advice Kathie and I offered Beth on how to control mice was to get a cat or two. However, this isn’t always the answer. Harley and Francesca, our resident felines, do a great job of keeping the rodent population down in the yard but aren’t all that fantastic about it in the house. Why? Well, the mice have outsmarted the cats. You see, the mice figured out if they stay in the areas The Grey Cloud of Dismay and The Torti of Destruction don’t have access to the mice will live another day. These areas include inside the cabinets and between the floor boards. Only the stupid mice venture onto the kitchen and living room floors. Assuming Harley and Francesca are awake when the mice venture out will they be caught and eaten. Mice, you see, tend to get curious when the lights go down. Our cats are out during the day and in at night so they sleep with us due to their fatigue from hunting, sleeping, playing, and going to the neighbors for second breakfast, second lunch, and first dinner before coming home.
There are lots of ways to trap mice which is another option you have to keep down the rodent problem if getting cats are not possible. However, trapping mice is time consuming and sometimes feels like your [trying] to catch the deluge in a paper cup. Trapping humanely can be done — that’s how Wolf and I do so — by buying humane traps* at the hardware store. Wolf usually lets the mice out at work which is 30 miles away from where we live so them making their way back home isn’t likely to happen.
Mice don’t like cheese so a good brie isn’t going to get their attention — though it’ll definitely get mine! — nor will cheese whiz. Rather, use peanut butter. There isn’t a peanut butter a mouse can say no to. Bait the trap at its deepest to ensure Mickey will travel to the furthest point to get the peanut butter. You don’t need a lot, just a small drop on your finger, about the size of a chocolate chip. Leave in a dark place where you’ve seen mice, mouse poop, or both. Wait for a night or two then check the traps.
Mice don’t weigh a lot so you may not realize you’ve trapped one. DON’T SHAKE THE TRAP. Doing so not only gives the terrified mouse a head injury it also spills out the urine and feces the mouse produced when it got the shit scared out of it (and pee) because it realized it was caught and couldn’t get out. Don’t leave the traps for too long or you’ll find a corpse worthy of Bones.
Poisoning isn’t really an option. Mice (and rats) take a small nibble of a food source before gobbling it so they’ll taste the poison and not finish whatever food you put down. And they remember the taste of the poison so the next time you try to use it they won’t bite at all. Also, if they do ingest the poison and die, one of your pets or livestock — cats, dogs, chickens — may think a tasty snack has been left for them and eat the corpse. Remember, we are what we eat so if you best layer eats a mouse dead from poison it’s likely you’ll kiss your chicken goodbye after the poisoned mouse is digested.
Kill traps will certainly work though I’m not one to employ this tactic. Killing animals — be it cats, dogs, rats, ants, cockroaches, whatever — has to be done in large numbers in order for the population to go down. If you’re only killing one or two at a time the decrease in population won’t occur. If you manage to eliminate part of the population those who survive will increase their sex drive in order for the species to survive. Think of feral cats. Killing them doesn’t work because their instincts tell them to increase mating which causes over production of kittens. The only way to eliminate a feral cat colony is to trap, neuter, return**.
The best way to deal with mice is to not let them nest in your home/shed/whatever. Easier said than done. When Wolf cleaned out the shed a couple years back he found hundreds of mice living in boxes, rags, newspaper, etc. To eliminate the mouse problem we chucked everything they like for nesting: sawdust, newspaper, rags, carpet, etc. What we kept we put into hard containers so the mice couldn’t chew their way through. For instance, all our rags now live in Tidy Cat litter containers.*** You can also use metal containers or anything else their sharp little teeth can’t get through.
The rodent problem will never be solved. The best you can do is try to eliminate your home as a place mice want to live. If you find mice in the areas you store food (or want to as Beth mentioned in her email to the list) put your food in containers which are mouse proof though this will cut down on the amount of time you can store food for and may compromise food at the bottom of the pile. So, as I already stated, make your home/storage area undesirable by eliminating the things mice look for. And get a couple cats.
*Not precisely what we use but pretty close.
**I know not everyone is behind this idea.
***Tidy Cat (un)fortunately has seen the light and decided to put their litter into cardboard boxes eliminating all the plastic waste. This is all well and good for Mother Earth however it sucks for Wolf and I as we use these plastic containers for all kinds of things like holding rags, recycling, and compost.