What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rodent Control

Today, I planned on writing a different entry which I like still will. However, this reply I wrote regarding problems with mice is worth sharing so the planned entry will wait until tomorrow. I have added a bit here and there for the purposes of this entry but for the most part it is almost identical to the reply.

Mice are often depicted as cute little critters and in fact I did an entry on my journey on this very topic after coming across a website glorifying these horrid little creatures. There is nothing cute about mice. The only thing I will say in their favour is they are great laboratory animals that have helped us understand human anatomy, histology, imunology, genetics and disease better. They have played critical roles in finding cures for diseases and are particularly useful for transgenics. Having a fair amount of experience with laboratory variety of mice, I could relate a lot of rather funny and some not so funny experiences. However, I will leave you the reader with one sure fact is female lab mice do not appeciate undergoing a pap smear at the hands of inexperienced students! So mice are useful but I'm not running a lab in my home and they do not belong in the home! They are vectors of disease like Hantavirus, a serious, lifethreating disease.

We too had (? since the probability of more getting in always exists) a rodent problem. Our house is on waterfront property which brings its own set of wildlife like moles and it backs onto farmland. When the crops come off and the weather turns cold field mice like to take advantage by getting indoors. This is something I simply will not tolerate as rodents . Cats will only help if they are mousers by nature, some aren't. We do have at least one neighbourhood mouser but he or she is rather sporatic. Other great natural rodent predators are hawks, owls and snakes so if you have a garden try to attract these or you can set up birdfeeders to attract smaller birds that in turn will attract larger birds but be warned to keep the feeders well away from the house as they will attract wild rabbits and rodents as well.

A word on sonic or electronic devices: There have been reports of reduced efficacy. However, there have also been reports of them working. We have a few and I will say they do work to the point squirrels, a member of the Rodentia family will not come in our front yard even to get food. I think there are are few tricks to these devices. First, move them around on occasion. Rodents can get accustomed to where the noise is coming from. There are two types, one that is sonic only and one that works on household wiring. Use both for best effect. Expect an increase in rodent activity within the first couple of months as they drive rodents from your home.

There are three components to controlling rodents in homes.

1) Remove the rodent(s) by trapping. Chances are when you sealed where they were getting in, you trapped them inside the house. So remove all the food in the cabinets they are getting into and set traps. Make sure you keep the cabinet doors closed but check daily or more often. Continue doing this until no new rodent activity is seen. At the same place the poison traps outside your house and in the crawspace if you have one. The downside to poison is it can kill or harm children, pets, other desireable wildlife like hawks and owls (natural rodent predators) and if the rodent dies in your walls can stink to high heaven.

2) Seal all entry points inside and outside of your home. For obvious larger holes, stuff with steel wool then cover or tack fine square carpenter's cloth over the hole. Cover with patching compound. An alternative is to use expandable spray foam. Be sure to check for smaller entry points like cracks around pipes, spaces between heater boots and the floor and etc. Do an outside walk-around looking for any entry points and seal those too. Oh and your energy bills whether AC or heating or both will thank you for sealing up the gaps!

3) Remove all sources of food! This is critical. Food should be stored in glass or metal sealed containers if at all possible since mice will chew through light plastic like bags and have been known to chew through heavier plastic. If you need larger glass jars check local restaurants. They will often give them away free. Bread and buns should be vacuum sealed in containers if you have a vacuum sealer, stored in a metal bread box or microwave oven. There is a chance of mice getting into a conventional oven through the oven vent so don't store these types of things in there. Store fruits and vegetables in the fridge or in spots inaccessible to rodents. For example my onions and potatoes are are a stainless steel rack about four feet off the floor and mice can't climb up the metal poles. Next you must be meticulous at cleaning to ensure no food crumbs remain on the counter, floor or stovetop. This is critical! All food garbage should be removed from the home after each meal. This removes food odours and ensures mice are not able to get any food from the garbage. An alternative is using a sealed metal trash can and there are some rather nice, step to release the lid stainless steal kitchen trash bins. Allow eating only in the kitchen as carpets can hold a surprising amount of crumbs, enough to keep a determined rodent on the go. Give your carpets a good vacuuming and vacuum 3 to 4 times weekly until the infestation has ended. Bar soap should also be in some type of sealed container. While this sounds odd, I had one very determined mouse chewing on homemade oatmeal and transparent soaps stored in built-in drawers in the upstairs bathroom. Store anything that can be used as nesting material like cotton balls, tampons or q-tips in glass containers.

This last step will need to be continued if you don't want a re-infestation but it does become habit so isn't as much work as it sounds.

Garden Gnome
© 2007