Cold weather means increased mice problems for homeowners. What should you do if you think you have a mouse in your home?
Let’s first discuss how the mouse got there in the first place. As we discussed in our last blog post, your home has many potential entry points for pests. All a mouse needs is a ¼ inch gap to enter your home. A gap this size is very common around garage or crawlspace doors, wire penetrations or HVAC entry points, or around doors with damaged or missing weather stripping. If you are finding mice, locating and repairing the probable entry site can help prevent additional mice from entering your home.
Now how do we get rid of the mouse that is already there? Both professionals and homeowners have two options for controlling mice: baits and traps. Both are effective and carry risks, but traps are typically safer if you have children or pets in the home. Because mice only nibble at food, baits must contain a high percentage of active ingredient. This can be very dangerous if ingested by a child or pet. Traps, on the other hand, typically use peanut butter as a lure. While the lure is safe, these traps may have spring loaded trapping mechanisms that can injure fingers or puppy noses, for example. Whether you use baits or traps, keep them out of reach of your family members.
Mice are worth the effort to control. A single female mouse may have 6–10 litters a year with 4–7 young per litter. This means you should act quickly before you are overwhelmed with mice. Mice feces and urine may contain salmonella bacteria that could make your family sick if ingested. Waste may also carry the causative agents for Hantavirus and Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis. Because mice often defecate near food in pantries, in the drawer under your oven, or on kitchen counters, it’s best to act promptly.
Here’s to keeping your home mouse-free this winter!