Unwanted House Guests

As we head into the colder weather and almost the 2nd anniversary of when we had our visitors, I wanted to chat about a topic that every single one of us home owners have to deal with, at one time or another.  So whether you are in your forever home or you have just moved into your new home, these furry creatures may come and visit, they may already be there and in our personal experience, they definitely over stay their welcome and would stay forever if they could; once you have got them, they are not easy to get rid of.

We are talking about Rodents!!!!!

So do you have mice or rats in your home?  

You do not necessarily have to see one to know you have them which is the good news.  The bad news is that if you do see one, you don’t just have a few – your home is being invaded!!!!!

As with many forms of animal infestation, scratching or scuttling sounds are indicators of unwanted housemates. The smell of urine is another indicator of an infestation, and rodent urine is particularly strong and musky. Gnaw marks and chew holes are a third clear sign of rodent activity.

Droppings are not only a means to identify a rodent problem, but also a way to identify the type of rodent. Rodent droppings tend to be capsular in appearance and may accumulate quickly, even if there is only one pest.

The types of droppings are:

Mouse: under one quarter inch and pointed at the ends
Rat: larger than one half inch with either blunt or pointed ends

Shinier droppings are fresh, whereas older droppings tend to be dull and crumbly. If there are multiple sizes, then you likely have a larger infestation of both adults and pups.

Regularly check areas, especially kitchens where the food is, that you perhaps do not usually check often, so on the very top of your kitchen cabinets, if you have a toaster and perhaps you don’t use it often, check the little tray that pulls out for droppings.  Behind your fridge, oven, in your cupboards and obviously in your basement, especially if its unfinished as that’s a haven for mice – or at least ours was.  

So how do you stop rodent infestation?

Mice infest homes because their natural habitat is shrinking and they seek food, water, warmth, and shelter.

The first step in eliminating rodents is to find the entry points and block them off using metal or epoxy.  Just be aware that mice can enter through cracks or holes as small as a dime!!! 

The second step is to make sure they have no food sources. Keep all foods in metal containers or the refrigerator, and place boxed goods in a well-sealed area that has already been checked for possible entry points. Doing so makes trapping rodents easier and may even encourage some to leave on their own.

Mice in Walls
An infestation in your walls or ceiling can prove very difficult to deal with. Rodents will find your insulation an attractive nesting material and may chew through wires or plastic pipes. Worst of all, their waste will be mostly hidden, meaning it is more difficult to clean up after getting rid of them.  We had them in the wall between our garage and kitchen but when we had them, you could definitely hear them.

Using poisons may mean that the rodents will die within your walls. They also can take several days to kill the rodent. Meanwhile, children and pets will also be at risk of exposure to the poison. Thus, the best method is to use traps or to call an exterminator. If using traps, remember that the process will take time and that numerous traps should be placed.

Mice in the Attic
It is somewhat easier to deal with an infestation in your attic. Again, traps are the best method to use. Keep an eye out for any nests or scavenged foods, as the pests will bring their findings to this relatively isolated area for safer consumption. This will help you place the traps more effectively. Snap traps are an option, if you normally keep your attic door locked so pets and children can’t get in.

Mice in the Garage
In addition to checking walls for entry points, the garage door should be considered a possible entry point. Make sure that the door seals well when closed, leaving no room for the pests to squeeze in. Check your cars too if you park them in the garage.  We had a mouse or mice in one of our cars that started to chew through the cables – the covering of the cables in cars is soy based so they love that and then they or it was chewing through the wind shield washer fluid cable because its sweet tasting which they liked.   

For your garage, traps are the most effective solution. If your garage is a place where children and animals are not permitted to play, then snap traps may be extremely useful here. However, as snap traps will sometimes misfire, live traps remain the best solution. 

Methods of Mouse Removal
Peppermint oil may be effective against mice, although the results have some limitations. By placing some of this oil on cotton balls and distributing them in places where mice are known to visit or nest, you are creating a scent barrier which is too strong for their sensitive noses. As the odor quickly spreads, the mice will theoretically evacuate the affected areas.  HOWEVER, we found that mice also enjoy a nibble on peppermint Aero bars so not too sure how effective peppermint really is.  

Not all cats love hunting mice. Indoor cats who are well-fed may find a mouse to be an interesting play toy for a while, but will eventually grow bored. Cats are also less immediately effective against infestations, and contact with a dead mouse means exposing your household to the risk of diseases to which the cat is immune.

There are countless forms of repellent out there, from sprays to oils and beyond. Unfortunately, there is no conclusive evidence that any of these repellents work, and you could find yourself wasting a lot of money before finding one which has any effect on your unwanted guests. It is better to avoid using these at all.

The most effective method of removing mice we found was the humble mouse trap. While some are lethal, many modern traps capture the mice without harming them. We did however use the snap trap and the glue traps.  It really ended up being them against us and as inhumane as they are, we needed these creatures out of our home.  

This leads me to my final piece of advice.  It was our experience that by the time we saw our first mouse, completely cleaned out our basement, it was evident by the amount of droppings that we had many of them.  We managed to catch a lot of them but I am guessing that if you spot one, you are already completely outnumbered.  

After two months of them basically torturing us, we finally got a professional in and over night, they all disappeared as if like magic.   I would totally recommend paying for a professional.  These creatures cause a lot of destruction and multiple very quickly.  If you are local to the Burlington area, I will put details on our “Partners” tab of a professional we have used and would recommend.  

This is the time of year is when you need to start being more aware of rodents, as the weather starts to get colder and they want to find warmth for the winter.

- Justin