As the days are consistently getting shorter and autumn is on the horizon, people are preparing their homes for the winter ahead… and so are the mice, rats and squirrels! This is the time of year when they come out in force, choosing the best location for their family to settle in. And they multiply seemingly overnight! Within a few months, a pair of mice can have several litters, with 8-10 babies in each litter! And each of these babies are capable of having their own litters when they are two months old! Follow these steps now to mouse-proof your home:
Preventative measures are the best ways to keep rodents out of your house. But that’s easier said than done, since a mouse can fit through a hole 1/4″ in diameter (that’s the size of a dime), while a rat can squeeze through a 1/2″ hole. Seal these holes with concrete mortar, sheet metal or hardware cloth. Squirrels, on the other hand, can create their own entrances by chewing through wooden fascia boards. And since they are looking for a place to have their second litter of the year right now, it’s important to make sure they don’t decide to raise that family in your attic! Vents are common entry points, as are the spots where the eaves meet the roof of the house. And once inside, the critter sets up its bedroom and bathroom and makes itself right at home until it dies, and it just might do that in your attic too! They’re also destructive too! It’s estimated that half of the fires of unknown origin may be caused by rodents chewing on electrical wires. And when they chew on your PVC pipes, it leads to water damage.
Once you have a rat or mouse (or two or three) in your house, it’s imperative that you trap them before they have a chance to reproduce. Traps are usually a better choice than poison for several reasons; one being that with a trap, you know right where the mouse has died, but with poisoned bait, who knows where the mouse wandered to before he died? (Until you smell him after a couple of days.) Because mice have such poor eyesight, they tend to travel close to walls, so set your traps along there. While cheese is heavily advertised as the bait of choice, peanut butter proves to be extremely effective in luring the mouse to the trap, and it won’t go rancid either. It might be easier to catch the mouse by baiting the trap without setting it. Then, when you see that a mouse has discovered the trap and eaten the bait, you can bait and set the trap.
Squirrels are a little more difficult to remove. Check with your local DNR for the regulations concerning trapping squirrels. One-way exclusion doors are effective in getting and keeping the squirrels out. It’s basically a door on springs that attaches to the squirrels’ entrance and exit to your attic. (If there are multiple entrances, block off all but one, and place the exclusion door over it.) This door allows a squirrel to push the door open and let himself out, but he won’t be able to get back in (it’s kind of like a one-way door.) Mid-morning is a good time to put your exclusion door in place, since that’s the time that squirrels usually head outside to eat, and will be outside your attic anyway. However, the squirrel may create a new entrance hole for himself, especially if your home has alot of wood. You can spray hot-tasting repellent along any place that a squirrel might try to chew through. Be sure to test the spray on a small, inconspicuous area of the house first, to make sure that it won’t discolor the paint. Placing a bright light in your attic, along with a blaring radio tuned to a rock or rap stations will also encourage squirrels to leave. Once they’re out, keep any trees that are near the house trimmed so that their branches don’t let the squirrel walk right up to your house.
Since it’s so much easier to keep a mouse, rat or squirrel out rather than trying to get him out, take them proper preventative measures to ensure that you haven’t put out the welcome mat for these rodents.