Mice. They’ll eat you out of house and home, or at the very least leave their little offerings (yes, of poop!) so that you can’t eat your food anyway for fear of parasitic infection or worse. They’re cute, but the potential damage they can cause is far from it.
So how do you make your house less attractive to the smallest of rodents? Prevention is key. You want to prevent the mice from getting in your house in the first place. But how? The trick is knowing what’s on a mouse’s house hunting checklist:
- near a water source
- safe from cats, rats, weasels and ratter dogs
- lots of cracks and crevices in which to scurry, hide and travel from room to room without being seen
- and last but not least, an abundant food supply
In fact, it’s this last one that will make or break your efforts to keep the mouse population at bay in a rural home.
I think the whole time I lived in the city (20 plus years), I think we had mice maybe once. Then there was the old house that had rats in the walls… but that’s another story. Overall, it wasn’t an ongoing problem. So when we moved to our little homestead in the forest, I had no idea what I was in for. None. So naive, so, so naive…
It started slowly. We moved in in April, so the weather was warming and the mice were moving outside anyway. But the house had been empty for quite some time before we started our renovations. Then it was another 6 months of us just being there during the day, painting and refinishing floors. And it’s a log cabin, with lots of little cracks and ways for mice to get inside. So basically, it was their home. Period.
That fall was when it hit me square between the eyes – we were sharing our home with a mama mouse and her babies. Which sounds sort of cute until you find their poop all over your kitchen counter (gross, gross, gross!). And they nibble big holes out of your expensive organic avocados, rendering them inedible for fear of some horrible rodent-spewed epidemic. The weirdest thing they ever ate was a jalapeno pepper. A jalapeno pepper!!! I can’t even eat a whole jalapeno… Crazy.
So I learned quickly that there are a few things that will reduce the attractiveness of your kitchen to your little four-legged friends. Here are a five to get you started:
- Check your cupboards (even the upper ones) for any holes that could allow a mouse to get inside. I’m talking the size of a dime and sometimes less, depending on the size of the mouse. If you find a hole or crack, fill it with a bit of steel wool or caulking, or seal it up with some sort of attractive trim.
- Put all grains, flour and other staples into glass jars or canisters, sealed tight (yes, even if they are in the sealed cupboards – you just never know).
- Place any food left out on the counter in sealed containers, and all fruit in a metal mesh bowl with a lid. At the very least wrap fruit in thick produce storage bags so the smell won’t emanate (at least not so strongly). Caveat: I’ve had mice chew right through those bags to get to a ripe banana. Not mouse-proof, but mouse-resistant.
- Make sure all your dishes are washed before you go to bed, or at the very least rinsed well. Any food left on dishes is gourmet to a mouse. Yummy! Also be sure to wipe down the counters with a vinegar/water solution (one part vinegar to 4 parts water should do it) or your favourite kitchen counter cleaner. Any smell of food will lure them in like ribs grilling at a tailgate party.
- Vacuum and sweep – a lot! If you’ve got children (or a messy spouse), check their seats and the floor for crumbs after meals. Preferably after they get up. Those little bits of food you see on the floor? They could feed a whole mouse family. And keep them coming back for more. For-ev-er.
If you put these five fixes into action, it should reduce the attractants in your home for the mice, and they might move on. Of course, I’m kidding. They’ll never really move on. Unless you get a cat. Even then they’ll probably just tease the cat. But at least they’ll eventually stop pooping on the counter.