Comparing Mouse Control Methods

We’ve all heard it said that mice are a reality of cottage country. Dr. Robert Corrigan, Urban Rodentologist and role model for mouse-catchers everywhere, calls them the second most successful mammal on earth, due mostly to their adaptable co-evolution with the most successful mammal…us. The problem lies in keeping them outside in their space, rather than inside ours.

The main culprit in Haliburton County is the deer mouse, named for its brown back and white belly. With big, beady eyes and soft fur, there is no denying their cuteness. There’s also no denying the horror of finding little turds in your silverware drawer, or the danger they can pose. One mouse dropping can transmit salmonella for up to 3 months!

So what can you do to keep the mice out of your space and protect your family and guests? It’s a big project; they didn’t get to be the second most successful mammal without being quite opportunistic.

The basics
Look up and look around. Mice are excellent climbers and can easily scale wood, bricks or even aluminum siding along its edge. We catch mice on roofs all the time, and they are consistently larger than mice caught at ground level. This tells us that they enjoy some sort of safety at height. Their other main safety comes from cover, so take a close look around your cottage for areas of harbourage. Removing hiding spaces limits their ability to move around safely.

The checklist

  • Prune any branches within 6 feet (2m) of the roofline. Branches near the roof act as a bridge for those hefty aerial mice.
  • Keep all vent/pipe connections free of vegetation. Vents should be screened with ¼” metal hardware cloth to prevent chewing. Seal any gaps around pipes.
  • Rake all leaves and manage vegetation around the house. Even leaf litter provides coverage for these small rodents. Keep grass trimmed within about 20 feet of the       house. Ground cover should be pruned and maintained.
  • Seal any gaps larger than the size of a pencil eraser. Inspect walls, foundation, chimneys, window and door frames, etc.
  • Elevate wood piles off the ground and keep away from the perimeter of the house.
  • Windows and doors should have tight, weather-proof seals. Garage door seals should be replaced regularly.
  • Inspect and repair/seal any damage to roof shingles, fascia boards, soffits, eaves and roof edges.
  • Ensure rain cap, spark arrestor and other chimney accessories are intact and sealed.
  • Keep all garbage, recycling and pet/bird food in mouse-proof containers. These items and other storage should be kept away from walls to limit mouse access.

These are the main problem areas we see on a regular basis, but every situation is different. You can do all of this diligently but if you have a large rock or wood retaining wall right beside the cottage, the mice will have a playground. You can also cover all of these points and still have a population living in the attic or walls. Let’s go over some methods of removal.

Plug it in, let the sound waves scare the mice away. Sounds so simple! Not to be negative here, but it just won’t stand alone to solve the problem. About 50% of the cottages that hire us to help with mouse problems have tried a sonic repellent first. If you read the fine print on the label, it usually says “to be combined with other pest control measures.” The sonic emission doesn’t travel through walls so at least one device is needed per room and ultrasound is reflected by hard surfaces and absorbed by soft surfaces. It’s just too complicated.

We have yet to learn a successful odour deterrent, likely because the entire house needs to be coated for it to bother them. Exclusion is usually more realistic. Steel wool is successful because mice won’t chew through it. If filling gaps with steel wool, make sure it is packed tight and check on it at least once a year because it will degrade. Copper is a great exclusion material as well.

Snap traps are tried, tested and true, but not fool-proof. Mice don’t see well so they travel along walls where they are offered a bit of protection. Traps placed away from walls are usually unsuccessful because the mice don’t find them. When placed against the wall, mice can feel them out with their whiskers and avoid them, either by walking around them or jumping over. Place 2-3 in a row to increase your chances of fooling them.

Live traps are a bit of a misnomer because it doesn’t take long for a mouse to starve. If multiple mice are trapped, cannibalism is rampant (we told you they’re opportunistic). Releasing them is tricky too, since they can travel far distances. The textbooks will tell you that mice remain within 30 feet of their nest or food source. Mice around here obviously don’t read textbooks. Ever watched a mouse run across the road? That’s more than 30 feet. As I write this, there are mouse tracks from our house to our pond, about 50 feet away.

The bucket trap can be successful, though we’re always perplexed by those who feel that drowning a mouse is more humane than hiring our services.

Poisons are effective but have to be approached with caution. Always avoid a poison in pellet form. Mice tend to cache the pellets away somewhere and if a pet or wild animal happens upon a large stash, it could be enough to harm them. If you are going to buy a station with poison at the hardware store, make sure the encasement is tamper proof so no curious kids or pets can get into it. Again be wary of placement. Mouse runways are marked with droppings, so place the station where you see the most droppings.

What we do
If this sounds overwhelming or you just can’t be bothered, or you’ve tried everything and the varmints are still inside, we’re here to help. We offer a range of mouse services tailored to suit any needs, passions or budget. We have a chemical free option, we offer sealing services and we have developed a wildly successful mouse control program. After all, we live in Minden and we are proudly mouse free. That mouse that ventured from the pond to the house…it’s not getting in. 

quizzical mouse