Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Arg! Mice!

When the weather cools as it is at the moment going into autumn, mice become a problem (colder weather encourages mice inside where they can be warm and have nice things to eat). Mice and other pests are difficult to get rid of once established. Here are our recommendations for preventing and treating mice problems.

We recommend using poison (available from hardware stores) to eradicate mice - the smell from one little mouse body is very small, usually not noticable, and not long lasting. Apparently mice head towards water when they are poisoned (it must make them thirsty), so that should lure them outside to die. Place poison in areas mice frequent – under the stove, in the hot water cupboard, in the attic, under the house, and anywhere else that seems likely - think 'dark, undisturbed, safe, warm'. Keep it out of reach of pets and children, and always follow directions carefully. If it is block baits, secure them as per the instructions. If mice can carry them away, they will store them somewhere and may never get around to eating it - expensive and ineffective, so secure your baits.

We recommend also blocking any gaps or holes mice might be using with foil scrunched into a tight ball and wedged in - apparently they cannot chew through that, it must make their fillings tingle (try putting poison in hole first - double whammy). The smell of mint is said to repel (try essence), as is pepper sprinkled along walls they run along - if you don't hear tiny sneezes, it must be working!

Traps need to be set so the snapping part faces the wall in a dark area (e.g. behind stove or couch) and baited with peanut butter. Cheese is not as reliable. Check traps daily, and when no mice have been caught for 2 days in a row, scrub clean, refresh the bait, and move to another area. If you use plastic traps like 'The Better Mousetrap', be aware that as the traps get old, the spring may loosen and only trap the mice. If you find a mouse clattering around with the trap attached, it is time to get a new trap. Of course, if the clever mouse is only caught by its paw, not neck, it won’t be killed either. Dispatch the mouse before it passes on the trick to its friends. Putting it in a jar in the freezer for a couple of days to euthanize it (out of sight, out of hearing) works if more direct methods do not appeal. Do NOT release mice elsewhere, they will just make baby mice to invade your property. It more humane to kill one mouse than them and their whole extended family.

Periodically check behind fridge, stove (including warming drawer), and inside the Hot Water Cupboard, and clean up any food and all mice droppings. You can monitor the effectiveness of the measures by how quickly droppings re-appear, so clean them up regularly.

Ensure food mice would like, such as pasta or rice, is stored in sealed containers as they can chew through plastic packets. Keep cupboard doors closed. Keep all areas tidy so there is nowhere for them to nest or hide, remove food waste, and wash dishes frequently. Check any areas where newspapers, bedding, or clothing is stored long term to ensure they are not forming nests in these. Remove rubbish frequently, and use bins that seal to avoid feeding them inadvertently.

We recommend landlords treat properties for mice and other pests annually. However, beyond that, it is tenants’ responsibility to take care of mice within their own homes. Everyone needs to take action on the mice to keep their population at acceptable levels, so it should not get worse as the weather cools further.

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