A long-ago children’s story began something like this, “There is a mouse in my house. It is a very nice mouse. It has a long, long tail and shiny eyes. It pops out of its hole and runs. My mother likes the mouse, but she says, ‘A mouse does not belong in a house.’”
Well, guess what, a sure sign that fall is approaching is “a mouse in the house.” These tiny mammals realize that shorter days and cooler temperatures beckon winter. Finding a safe warm place to live with an abundance of food helps them survive the tough season.
At Winding Pathways we expect mice to appear with the first cool weather in late August or September. Once in a while we have seen one scurrying across the floor, but more often we have found their tiny black droppings on counters. Sometimes we have heard them scurrying about an upstairs closet.
Two types of mice inhabit houses. Both gobble birdseed and will eat nearly anything people do. They capable of doing damage and possibly spreading disease.
The common house mouse is a gray mammal native to the Old World that is now found everywhere people live. They like houses, barns, garages, and sheds but are rarely found far from buildings and live indoors all year round.
Several species of native mice live outdoors most of the year but move inside each fall. These are normally called deer or field mice and are beautiful tiny mammals with shiny eyes and white feet.
They store food, while house mice don’t. Find a pile of sunflower seeds in a shoe and the culprit is a native mouse.
We love wildlife but don’t tolerate mice in the house. So, each fall we plan an eviction campaign.
Here’s how we reduce mouse problems at Winding Pathways:
- Tighten up cracks and holes. Every fall we arm ourselves with a caulking gun and can of expanding foam and inspect the house from the outside and inside. We fill in any likely entryway for mice, which can squeeze through tiny spaces. Caulking also helps keep insects and cold air out of the house.
- Set up a trap line. Old fashioned mouse traps efficiently catch and instantly kill mice if set properly. Here are some effective trapping tips:
- Buy many traps and set them all at once. Try to catch all or most mice in one night, rather than just setting a few traps.
- Bait traps with peanut butter and set them with the trigger side against the wall where mouse evidence is noticed. Mice tend to run along walls, rather than across the interior of a room, so trapping success is usually best near a wall.
- Set traps in tandem. Instead of just setting one trap here and there along a wall double or triple them up side by side, again with the trigger side facing the wall.
- We don’t use poison. It seems cruel and inhumane and poisoned mice tend to die in inaccessible places and stink to high heavens.
- Encourage predators. We don’t have a cat but encourage raptors to visit our yard. They work year round reducing rodent numbers.
- Mice are encouraged by food. We keep all food in sealed metal containers or in the refrigerator and wipe up any spilled food. Wild bird and pet foods are loved by mice. Keep them in a metal can with a tight lid and dump out the dog or cat’s food dish in the evening so there’s nothing for nocturnal mice to eat.
Mice are fascinating animals that play an important role in nature, but they belong outside. It’s probably not possible to entirely eliminate them from a house but simple techniques will encourage them to stay outdoors.