Saturday, January 22, 2022

The War With Mice

 About two months ago, I noted a sound in the ceiling at The Ranch I had not heard before, a certain small scampering about.  

Mice.

I had seen evidence of them in the garage and had - earlier in the Summer - trapped one or two.  Now, however, they seemed to have migrated.

Initially in the garage, I had tried all sorts of "humane" traps with minimal success.  Mice are pretty clever creatures it seems, and either do not have sufficient weight to collapse the larger traps or (mysteriously) will not go into the small traps to conveniently get caught.  The only thing that worked, it seemed, was an actual trap with an actual snap.

Nothing, it seems, succeeds like Death.

I absolutely hate killing things out of hand or unnecessarily.  There are a few things - mosquitos, roaches, fleas and ticks - that I will eliminate on site given the opportunity.  For the rest, I will do everything in my power to not harm them.  I have been good naturedly ridiculed at home for carefully escorting spiders, flying insects, and praying mantises out the door.  I will slow down to ridiculous length in neighborhoods to avoid the squirrels and birds.

In terms of more "wild" locations like The Ranch, the practice since I have grown up here is that if we are off in the woods and see something - like, say a poisonous snake - you walk away and leave well enough alone.  If it is near a house or building, it gets dealt with - not just because it is there, but because it can offer a danger to people not paying attention, pets, or livestock.  Or in some cases, property.

In this case, the choice is the house or the mice.  The house wins.

Conveniently there is a cutout in the ceiling near the inner garage door with a small landing just inside the attic.  Up went the the traps with peanut butter on the pressure plate.  The next day, down I came with two mice.  The count now is four.

I do the best I can, given, the circumstances:  they all get buried outside with an apology as to me having to do this and an explanation why it had to happen.  Having done all of this, I surely do not feel better about any of it.

Ultimately of course, the solution - if I really want to avoid this - is to find out where the mice are getting in, as our friends Leigh and Dan did (with victory at last!).  Saves the mice from chewing things in the house, saves me from having to ensure they do not have to be eliminated.  But that is going to be a longer struggle, most likely - my initial review of the outside did not reveal any place where entry could be gained and all of the grating at the foundation and roof line seemed to be intact.

Frankly, I hate this. It is a necessary thing to protect the integrity of the house, but I surely do not glory in it and look forward to the day when the only mice I see are scampering about in the forest or meadows much farther away.

39 comments:

  1. Years ago, I had a problem with mice in the house I was living in. There were too many unreachable ways for them to enter, and they were multiplying at a rate no trap could handle. I resorted to baits, and kept them out, until they didn't have any sign of being disturbed. I didn't like the solution, but all other methods failed to control the numbers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jess, I will likely end up there quickly as well. I think the paths in are limited (from what I saw last week) but will definitely check again.

      It is not a good solution, other than trying to prevent the problem in the first place (which we cannot always control).

      Delete
  2. Anonymous3:44 AM

    if you come across a couple of stray cats feed them, they will take care of the mice. works for us here, but we have 10 of them ! had to get them all fixed, otherwise we would have a lot more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous - Unfortunately we do not have any sorts of stray cats here as they can quickly become food for the local coyote and fox population. But it is a good idea.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous8:10 AM

      when we first came here, there was tons of mice sign everywhere.
      and like 3 feral cats, I started putting dry food out for the cats- it became 13 or so real fast. got them all trapped and cut/fixed to keep the count down. met a lot of nice people along the way and got a few free "car houses" for the winter.
      so far, they done their part, no mice, rats. or birds and squirrels either as they kill everything !
      my grandpa had a couple of barn cats when I was a kid. never forgot them as they where fun to watch. like the ones we have now, they too killed anything coming close to the barn .
      all that protection for 3 somethimes 4 16 lb of dry cat food per month. maybe if you look into it you might find a barn cat or semi feral one to home ? just need a house for one and some food. SAVES me for hearing about mice from the better half !

      Delete
  3. Robert Orians4:19 AM

    Earliest childhood memory , 4 years old . Mom got Ron and I out of bed . Sirens , lights , cops , firemen , ambulance . All in front of our apartment building on the 2nd floor above a 1950's grocery store Mom opened the apartment door and walked us boys into the hallway . Just in time to see a young fireman with a bloody blanket carrying a dead newborn baby down the hall . He was weeping . The baby had been eaten to death by rats and mice overnight in its crib right next door to us . The Mother was behind him also weeping . If and when I see a mouse , rat , or any similar critter here on the farm I go into feline search mode to kill , destroy , and eliminate at any cost the appearance of anything in the rodent kingdom . Other than that I say let them live . If it's a rodent , KILL !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robert - I have read of such stories in past times, but have not known anyone to have that kind of experience. Sounds like an awful experience (and formative one) for a four year old.

      You have renewed my zeal to close out this problem, sir. Thank you.

      Delete
  4. Mice and rats are vermin. They draw snakes. And breed fleas. I think they are cute the farther they are from me. The ones in your forest are the cutest, because they are STATES away from me.

    My old back room is a walled in porch. RATS have found a way in, and I am in combat to the death with them right now. One to go.... I don't know quite how they are getting in. But when I find out, it'll be fixed.

    Proverbs mentions you, 12:10, the first part......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes STxAR, cute in the forest and movies, not so much in real life. The snake issue is potentially real here, and I need to get that all sorted out before it warms up here. And good luck on your own battle.

      Proverbs 12:10: We do what we can, but some things just cannot be fixed.

      Delete
  5. Try putting moth balls in your attic. Julia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Julia, thank you. I have never heard that suggestion before, although a number of products are marketed to deter mice based on odor.

      Delete
  6. Anonymous6:19 AM

    Mice entry points in the past - garage door entry corner. Electrical power mast flashing (loose). Windows left cracked open for air flow. Wood stove chimney.

    Jerry is a resourceful creature. Stuffing steel wool into cavities often stopped them from continuing that location.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous - I think your garage idea is the likely access point, as I dropped a trap there last night that was empty this morning. I can do a bit before I live but will definitely have to concentrate there next trip out.

      Thank you for the steel wool suggestion. I have had a recommendation of a shredded copper as well.

      Delete
  7. I'm happy to say that our house is still mouse free! The barns and chicken coop not so much.

    I definitely agree with you on the dilemma of killing things (Dan would even moreso). There's no good answer for it. In the end, we do some things simply because they must be done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is wonderful news (and by way of notation, how your blog makes a difference in the lives of others: it got me off my duff to do something)!

      It comforts me that others do not see a good answer for it either. It is just one of those things that comes along with life. We do the best we can to minimize the damage.

      Delete
  8. TB, if you don't deal with the mice they will INFEST your house. Think of them as warm blooded roaches, because that's what hey are!

    I had a mouse incursion in my chicken coop. There were a few mice. All of a sudden there were HUNDREDS of mice; so many that the chickens stopped laying! Getting rid of them was a BEAR! Do yourself a favor; kill your mice with prejudice!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pete, duly noted and I will adjust my thinking. Warm blooded cockroaches. Done. And thank you.

      Delete
  9. Mice chew electrical wires which turn's into spending money on electricians to repair the damage. Turn on a light in the attics and go outside at night and look for the pinpoints. Had some once and it took a handyman a couple of tries before all the places were sealed. He used steel wool for the holes and it's been 6 years now and they haven't come back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glasslass - That is my fear as well. The suggestion of the lights in the attic is a good one and I will implement. Thank you for the suggestion and thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  10. Buy a half gross of victor traps, the kind with a metal trip.
    Cheap on line.
    buy a couple handful of almonds.
    Grab some needlenose pliers and lightly open up the little roll of metal on the trip, so the almond can be wedged in. Use some elmers glue also.
    Set those all over , close to holes, and edges of walls. Underneath vehicles.
    If they are outside, cut a hole in a can or plastic bottle of appropriate size and put the trap inside- this will save the juncos and other birds. (I use a 1" hole in the empty costco container the mixed nuts come in- perfect size, and flat sides.)
    Buy a box of disposable surgical gloves to handle the vermin-
    Bring bucket to collect the dead and reset- most times, no need to rebait. Then just chuck the dead vermin down the hill or over the fence or wherever, something will eat the corpse.
    It is a war of attrition, and it never stops.
    My guess is mice are the reason the Egyptians loved cats.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Raven. If you could help me, is the expanding of the trip to allow bait (almonds, I assume) to be placed? That would certainly improve on my current method.

      And yes, I am going to need more traps. Lots and lots of traps, to quote The Matrix.

      Delete
    2. Yes, open up that little coil of metal, the one with sawtooth edge and a little hole in the top, into a U shape so the almond can be wedged in- put a drop of elmers glue in first. Set it to dry is such an attitude the trip does not get glued to the trap base. Easy peasy, I recommend doing them all, set up a little production line. Then set some of the traps, and keep the rest ready to go.
      I do not think this is more effective than peanut butter, just easier and cleaner to deal with regarding re-baiting. And the almond lasts for a long time- eventually insects will eat up the nut. Mice tend to go in pairs so pair the traps.

      Delete
    3. Thanks Raven. That helps a lot. I am not the best person in terms of picturing things in my mind without extensive explanation.

      Delete
  11. The little buggers have taken to squatting within the Orc's Workshop this year. At first I just let them be as there is no food within for them but lately there are signs of nibbling in places where nibbling is not welcome. As the workshop is cleared I and tidied into boxes aplenty I am hoping they may vacate. If not I am afraid their days may be numbered. With the live traps, I believe that you have to release the mice over a mile away as they may return, hardier than one may think are them little buggers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, releasing them a mile away is my recollection as well.

      Sadly, the non-lethal traps were a complete bust. I am going to have to work to completely seal off the house and then remove whoever is left.

      Delete
  12. Mice in the house fall clearly into the category of things I have no qualms about exterminating. (venomous snakes, as well, even if they aren't near the house) We do whatever it takes: poison bait in the attic, sticky boards, traps set with peanut butter. We also use steel wool to block any potential entry points. You have to be careful where you put moth balls. Most of our house is on a slab, but we put some in a crawl space once and when the weather warmed the room above it reeked!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kelly, it is interesting - I have never really had to deal with mice before, but thanks to the feedback here, I am looking at them in a very different way. Like many other animals, perhaps better and more lovely in the wild.

      Good note about the moth balls. They do have a distinctive smell.

      Delete
  13. polimath7:10 PM

    We had mice in a mechanical shop once. Someone purchased a galvanized "Tin Cat" Trap that had a rotational trip that flipped the live mouse into a cabinet in the back of the trap. Then it would call its buddies to come help. You wind it up with a key fastened to the side and drown them all it the box. Remember to do this every day as they will eat each other.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Polimath - I have never heard of such a thing but will look it up. Thank you for the information and stopping by.

      Delete
    2. polimath7:17 PM

      https://www.epestcontrol.com/articles/best-rat-trap-to-catch-rats/
      Kness Ketch-all Multiple Catch Mouse Trap

      Delete
    3. Thank you Polimath! I appreciate the link.

      Delete
  14. I’ve used snap traps before but like above, the only permanent solution was to liberally spread bait pellets in the attic. It killed them all and haven’t been back in the ten years since. I did have to dispose of a handful of dedicated bodies that I found on a later trip up to the attic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ed, I originally tried bait and did not seem to have luck - although perhaps we really do have a superhighway. I will definitely try both going forward.

      Delete
  15. Anonymous6:10 AM

    Mice can accidentally ignite self igniting matches, store matches in metal containers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had no idea, but it makes sense. I think we are good but will definitely verify!

      Delete
  16. Anonymous4:18 PM

    Here in AZ we have pack rats in addition to mice. Once you have to pay big bucks to get the wiring on your car, air conditioner, or trailer, the sentence is summary execution by a dunk in the fish pond for the ones caught in the live trap!

    Try Chore Boy scrubbers, works well.

    Tom762

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tom - This actually happened to my Uncle up the road: mice ate out the wiring on his Toyota Prius. Apparently it happens quite a bit, from what the insurance said.

      Thank you for stopping by!

      Delete
  17. Mice and rats will chew many things, as has been mentioned. Food or not they will chew on plastic, too.

    Here, places like Terminix will give you a free inspection, and may even give you information on how they are getting in. Then you can decide if you want to pay the fee.

    Good luck to you, TB. Be safe and God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Linda. Pest control was something we had discontinued at the time, but may be something to pick back up.

      Delete

Your comment will be posted after review. If you could take the time to be kind and not practice profanity, it would be appreciated. Thanks for posting!