Mice like to keep cozy; tips to keep them out of your house

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jan 29, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Sometime in the early 1940s, while mending a favorite skirt in her cozy Chicago apartment my mother saw a small mouse run across the floor. Attempting to minimize the disruption to her work and scare the mouse away she tossed the sturdy 8-inch sewing shears lying beside her in the rodent’s general direction. Sadly, she failed on both counts. Much like William Tell, she hit her mark so accurately it pinned the furry creature directly to the hardwood floor. Oh, SNAP!

Rodents coming indoors are a problem that increases as the temperature decreases.

“Around fall when temperatures start dropping any mice that are outside are trying to find a way to get in; along with rats, too,” said Dave Fiess, director of vector control and environmental services for the Allen County Department of Health.

“Rodents are trying to get out of the cold just like we are,” said Martha Craft, vice president of public relations and corporate communications for Orkin, a pest control company.

Eliminating rodents starts with keeping them out. One easily overlooked entry point is any outside doorway.

“If you are standing on the inside of your house and you can see daylight under your door there is a good chance mice can squeeze in that way. It’s a good idea to put a metal door sweep at the bottom to help prevent them from getting in,” said Fiess.

They crawl around the foundation of a house looking for any warm air that might be escaping and then they will look for the entry point. Mice can squeeze through openings as small as a dime. While rats can squeeze through openings the size of a quarter, Craft said.

“There are all kinds of gaps and holes that you don’t really think about,” she said.

For example, Craft said, she had a magnetic pet door, and when the rubber shrank over time it made a gap that allowed warm air to escape. That created a potential rodent entry point.

Other rodent entry points include:

Natural gas lines; air conditioning equipment; or other devices with incoming lines that penetrate a house. A gap under a garage door; crumbling foundations or holes in mortar also allow rodents access, Craft said.

Further, entry points are not just on the ground. They can be up high, Craft said.

For example, rodents can climb trees and crawl down a branch. If they sense a gap they can come through the attic, she said.

Wherever, they can find an opening into a warm place is going to encourage them to move indoors, Fiess said. “Eliminating any of those kinds of openings to prevent them from getting in is what people need to do,” he said.

Craft said she called Orkin when she discovered a rat in her basement. Orkin arrived and looked for gaps and places where rodents could get in.

They used a canned foam that expands to seal the gaps.

Similarly, patching up any holes with cement or temporarily with steel wool can help keep rodents outside, Fiess said.

“Often the No. 1 line of defense is to seal up all the gaps,” Craft said.

Orkin also looked for signs a rodent had been in the house, she said.

“A lot of times you don’t see the rodent. You just see the evidence of a rodent,” Craft said.

Signs of a rodent infestation besides an actual sighting include: Droppings with urine that rodents pass continuously and gnawing. Additionally, clutter both inside and outside the house can attract rodents, she said.

Once rodents are inside it is more than just annoyance to see the pesky creatures.

“If an infestation is in the kitchen or the living space in the house that is more than just a nuisance. Because they defecate wherever they go that could be happening in your cupboards, and rodents carry all kinds of diseases. It really becomes a health hazard,” Craft said.

If there are mice in the house any food that is out should be in sealed containers. Fiess suggests using a hard plastic or metal container, something the mice can’t chew in to.

Similarly, pet food needs to be in a sealed container.

“Pet food is one of the worst attractants for rodents,” Craft said.

Besides eliminating food sources, trapping them is another way to rid them from your home.

“We recommend using snap traps. (And) using a thin layer of peanut butter or bacon grease or even tying a cotton ball to the trigger and setting those traps out wherever you see mouse droppings,” Fiess said.

Mice use droppings like a trail guide and cotton balls as nest building material, he said.

However, using poison inside the home is not recommended.

“We recommend not using poison bait on the inside of the house for mice and rats because if they eat that bait they can die in a wall void or behind a refrigerator or stove, which are hard to move, then you are going to have a bad odor. Plus, kids or pets can get into that poison and become ill.”

If there isn’t any food they can get to in the house mice will head outside in warm weather to feed on bugs and seeds. Additionally, not seeing droppings or disturbed food or noticing pets that have stopped acting strangely can be a sign the rodent problem has probably declined, Fiess said.

Article source: http://www.news-sentinel.com/article/2014140129521

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