Prevention is better than cure; when you start noticing that you have mice leisurely strolling around your kitchen and feeding on your food it may be too late! The reason for this is primarily that these little rodents are mainly nocturnal animals.
This is not a hard and fast rule, as they can be active during the day as well, but in most cases, they will start popping their little heads out when the Sun goes to sleep or just before that time.
Moreover, most of them are quite shy or, to use a better word, wary; this is because they have a huge range of predators in the wild; anything from birds (owls, for example, feed primarily on mice) to small – and even larger – carnivorous mammals like cats, foxes, etc. are natural enemies of mice and similar small creatures.
Mice breed very fast; in fact, a mouse (whose life lasts only two years) can have as many as 400 pups (or pinkies as they are sometimes called) in a lifetime! With a gestation period of 20 days and litters of up to 20 each time, you can easily see how your home can soon start teeming with little rodents. For many people, the situation is already out of control when they discover the presence of these little rodents.
Of course, as they are small animals, they are difficult to spot. Most people realize that they have unwanted guests walking freely around their homes at night not when they see one or a few of them in person, but when they discover their droppings.
As they tend to walk next to walls, and their droppings are very small, many people do not notice them until there are quite a few, which means that the mischief (the correct collective name for a group of mice) is well established.
When this is the case, you may have a significant number of little creatures living with you, and it may be late to solve the problem quickly. In fact, it may take weeks – and sometimes even months – to get rid of them, depending on the type of mouse (some, for instance, are immune to common poisons), on the size of the mischief, and even on the shape and structure of your dwelling as well as on the climate of where you live.
Mild places, especially places with mild winters, will be susceptible to having lots of mice, as they can proliferate during the cold season as well.
Similarly, although unwanted rodents can be found in concrete buildings as well, they are much more common in brick buildings; this is because they can easily dig between the wall and the plaster. Moreover, the older the house is, the more likely it is to be populated by these small rodents.
Therefore, if you think your home may incur an unpleasant infestation, the first thing to do is to assess how likely it is that your house will be populated by mice.
Check the following list and see if you really need to start preventing them from coming soon:
- The building you and your household live is very old and it is not well kept, not having had any significant restoration work for many years.
- You notice holes in walls, on the floor etc.
- The weather is mild, especially in winter.
- Your building has a history of a mouse infestation.
- You live in a densely populated area, or in the countryside near corn fields, barns etc.
- You leave food around in the kitchen or other rooms in the house.
- There are no cats living next to you or nearby.
- The street where you live is often littered with rubbish (especially food, maybe left by local shops or restaurants).
If you have ticked most or all of the points above, then your house is very, very, very likely to have some squeaking visitors soon and you need to act fast to prevent this. If only a few points apply to your situation you may take it easy, as the risk factor is low.
However, remember that you still may have them running, squealing, eating, and… leaving droppings in your house or flat, thus, read on anyway, as you may still find these points useful.
Categories at Risk
Before we move on to look at ways of preventing mice from coming to your home, it is worth considering that if you have people who may be particularly at risk from disease carried by mouse droppings you may wish to act faster and with more care.
Although we should never give in to alarmism, as ailments and infections caught through droppings are not lethal, but they can result in nasty symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, etc. Some people are more at risk than others and here is a list for you:
- Children (especially young ones)
- Old people
- People with serious illnesses (especially respiratory and cardiac ones)
- People with a low or deficient immune system
- People with handicaps
If a member of your household falls within one of these categories, then you may wish to act faster and with more care.
Having said all this, and having seen all the key points about how mice may come to live in your home and which people need special care, it is time to look at practical tips and advice about how to prevent mice from infesting your house or flat.
Do Not Tempt Them With Free Food
Absolutely the most important thing to do to avoid attracting mice is to keep your house clean from food. Of course, you will need to store away food, but do not leave it around the kitchen or dining room.
Mice are omnivorous animals, which means that they will eat virtually everything (both meat and vegetables); however, they do have a predilection for some food over others.
To start with, mice have a sweet tooth; they go mad for sweets, including sugary drinks. Therefore, make particularly sure that you seal away sweets, candies, cookies/biscuits and that you never leave the odd can of whichever fizzy drink you consume lying around half-finished (or even with a few drops), especially at night.
Mice go mad for cereals; this means that they love grain, wheat, corn, rye, oats, and everything that is done with them, such as pasta, bread, corn flakes, etc. Thus, make sure you always clean even breadcrumbs.
Do not forget that they also eat other food as well (including cheese, though not as much as we see in cartoons). Thus, you really have to seal away all food to make sure that mice do not smell it from a distance and take your home to a free restaurant. Talking about their sense of smell, it is very good indeed, in fact, it is much better than ours.
However, there are some foods that can be smelt from a very long distance, even by humans, let alone mice! Things like fish etc. Attract them from very far indeed, and their smell remains in the air for a very long time; therefore, never leave the odd open tin of sardines lying around…
Do remember as well that hot and cooked food smells more than cold food. Of course, this does not mean that you have to give up eating warm meals… you just have to make sure that you seal away leftovers in a food container and put them in the fridge as soon as possible.
Cleanliness Above All!
A dirty home is a good breeding ground for mice.
Not just this, but even small daily chores can make all the difference, for example:
- Put the rubbish out every evening or night; mice can smell it.
- Do the washing up soon after eating; they can smell and eat food even in water; yes, mice can swim.
- Make sure you vacuum regularly; small crumbs hiding in corners can attract little hungry guests.
- Make sure there are no nesting places for them; drawers with a paper you never use are, it appears, their favorites
- Check even on top of cupboards; sometimes we leave bags etc. With food in them.
- Check your pockets before you store away clothes.
Make also sure that the street you live in is clean; hassle the local authority to collect rubbish regularly if necessary, like a street with black bin liners full of food on the pavement is sure to have our little rodents make a beeline for them.
Get a Cat
Now, you may have already thought about this… getting a little kitten not only warms up your household with the unquestionable charms of this animal, but it is the safest way to keep mice at a distance. Mice can, in fact, smell cats from very far, and they keep away.
Some cats are better at chasing mice (mollies, A.K.A. female cats, are always better hunters), while geldings are not good at all.
However, your pet does not need to be a bunter at all (unless you live on a farm and need to get rid of them for a very wide area). In fact, if you live in a flat or normal house, just the presence of the cat will keep them at safe distance.
If you cannot keep a cat (some blocks, for example, prohibit pets, or you may be allergic to its fur or simply your lifestyle is not suitable for looking after one), you may ask a neighbor if she or he wants; even having one next door (or above or beneath you) will suffice.
Whatever you do, remember that having a pet is a commitment and a responsibility for his or her life and that cats live, on the average life of 12 – 15 years and they can easily live about 20. So, do not get a cat just to keep mice at bay.
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