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Mouse-Proof: Keep The Rodents Out This Winter

Monday, November 23, 2009

Of Mice and Men might have been a great American work of literature, and the two go well together in the book title, but the same doesn’t apply to our homes. In this post we’ll discuss how to take preventative action by mouse-proofing your home, so that you don’t lay out a metaphorical welcome mat to rodents this winter.

Look around for a nickel. The economy isn’t doing so hot, but most of us still have a surplus of these. A nickel is of more value than its mere five cents, because it is the perfect size to judge a potential mouse hole with. That’s right; mice might appear to be much larger, but most can squeeze through any hole that is the size of a nickel, and some the size of a dime! Re-evaluate all those holes and cracks around the house that you’ve noticed, but figured would probably be too small for a mouse. If the nickel fits, they need to be sealed. Even if it doesn’t, they probably still need to be sealed to keep out other smaller pests, like ants, spiders, and roaches.

Should you use steel wool to plug these holes? It is commonly held that mice are unable to chew through steel wool, which is true, but rats can, and if the wool has rusted over a long period of time, so can mice. Some university sources recommend a combination of silicon caulking and steel wool, which not only blocks a hole but seals it, and others have success with plumber’s foam, commonly used to seal gaps around pipes and utility lines. A determined mouse can chew through the foam as well, but its presence might deter it from trying. While these methods may not always be 100% effective, they nonetheless go a long way in keeping mice out in the first place, so that you don’t have to worry about trapping them later.

When sealing such holes in the foundation and crawlspace (and/or basement), don’t forget the gaps around drainpipes under sinks throughout the house, particularly in the kitchen. It’s fairly obvious that most mice will head for the kitchen and pantry, where there is an abundant supply of food, water, and possibly shelter in crowded, seldom used cabinets.

If you already have one or more mice in the home, these measures should serve to discourage future visitors, but the existing problem needs to be treated. Fortunately, there are many options. Snap traps, glue boards, and humane non-killing traps (note: these are humane only when they are checked regularly; starving to death in a box or on a sticky board is probably not preferable to the instant death of a snap trap) and many lawn & garden and hardware stores sell various brands of rodenticide. Traps in the home should go along baseboards, which is where mice travel, while rodenticide is best in the crawl space or attic, unless it is contained in a child-proof and/or pet-proof station; be careful of this, as most rodenticides are sufficiently strong enough to be harmful to both pets and their owners if ingested.

Don’t forget the garage. A trap or bait station on each side of the garage door is highly effective in stopping mice before they enter the home, as it’s a sure bet that they’ll enter the garage, which is frequently left open.

In terms of animal control of mice, cat owners usually have fewer problems with rodents (it sounds gruesome but it’s true) and homes with snakes nearby also tend to be mouse-free. This is not to say that you should catch or purchase snakes and trap them in your crawlspace; in fact, we at Brasure’s wholeheartedly do not recommend this approach.

More mouse-related articles will follow throughout this winter, particularly relating to traps and rodenticides. Mice control is included in our Premium Protection Plan at Brasure’s, and we also make one-time service calls, using child-proof bait stations and/or glue boards–if your own efforts at controlling mice seem to fail, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

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