This is the time of year when mice make their way into homes. It’s a little creepy to think about, but right now mice may be circling your home, garage or business sensing places where warm air leaks from the building. Once a source of warmth is found, mice will try to make their way into the structure. Did you know mice can squeeze through openings that are 1/4″ or larger? That’s a hole or crack as big as a dime – anything you can poke a pencil through!
Once inside, mice will go towards where they will be warmest. This explains why people have problems with mice living around refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, ovens, water heaters, even attics and furnaces.
There are many reasons to prevent mice from entering your home or structure. They transmit disease, chew through wood and wiring and can contaminate food. In Nebraska alone, house mice cause $20 million in damage to stored feeds and structures each year (UNL Extension source: Controlling House Mice)
The best defense against mice in the first place is to “pest-proof” your home. Caulk, cement, mortar, and hardware cloth are all examples of materials you can use to help prevent mice from entering the home. Steel wool can also be used to temporarily plug openings. Check out “Don’t put the welcome mat out! Pest Proofing!”
So what do you do if you have mice in the house? We don’t recommend the use of baits in the home but do advocate for using snap traps. Rodent control experts say most people do not use enough traps. For only a couple of mice in a home, you should be using at least a dozen traps. For larger infestations, use more!
What to use for bait? Dr. Barb Ogg in our office (now retired) loved to use caramel on her snap traps. It is a sticky, attractive sweet bait mice will tug on to set off the trigger mechanism on the traps. Personally, I can’t have any caramel in my house because I would eat more of it than the mice! My preference is to take half a raisin and make it sticky and gooey in my fingers then press it onto the trigger mechanism. Once the raisin is pressed into the trap trigger, I spread a very tiny amount of peanut butter on the raisin. Mice will be attracted to the peanut butter, tug at the raisin and boom! Same principal as the caramel trick, but fewer tempting calories for me. For more ideas on baits to use on your snap trap, read “Controlling Mice” (Nov/Dec 2010 NEBLINE) by Barb Ogg.
Our colleague, Dennis Ferraro, created a video for UNL Extension’s Backyard Farmer on Mouse Control. This video will gives you some ideas where you check around your home for potential entry sites for mice and more.
For more information on Controlling Mice, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/rodents.shtml.
UPDATE: As promised…. read Dribbles & Piddles: Cleaning Up After Mice (added Oct 28)
Wishing you an amazing “mouse-free” day!!
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UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu