If you’re finding tiny brown pellets and random holes in packaging, there’s a good chance you have mice in your home. While this is a common occurrence, it is something that needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Mice carry a range of nasties on them, including mites, ticks, fleas and harmful bacteria such as salmonella. It is therefore vital that you remove the problem and clean the affected areas thoroughly.
Here are a few handy tips for getting rid of mice and ensuring they don’t return.
If in doubt, bin exposed food
If you find droppings or bite marks in food packaging, you should discard ALL the food in the same storage area. Put on a thick pair of disposable gloves, and throw everything into a bin bag. Seal the bag, and put it straight outside in a covered wheelie bin.
The first thing you should do is clean up any droppings you find. However, this isn’t a job for a vacuum cleaner, as some models will blow potentially hazardous particles into the air. Instead, put on some disposable gloves, and spray the entire area with disinfectant. Using antibacterial wipes, pick up the droppings and place them carefully into a bin bag before putting them outside.
Take off your gloves, thoroughly wash your hands, and put on a fresh pair. Disinfect the entire area with a specialist rodent spray, rinse, and dry the area with paper towels. Alternatively, you can sanitise and clean at the same time with a powerful steam cleaner. Remove the gloves, place them in the bin outside, and wash your hands thoroughly.
Take steps to stop mice from returning
The best way to get rid of mice, and stop them from returning, is deterrence. In the areas of greatest mouse activity (where you find droppings and a strong smell of ammonia), put down some cotton wool balls soaked in peppermint oil. Not only does the oil mask the smell of food, it is a smell mice hate.
Another natural way to deter mice from entering your home is to place cat litters at suspected entry points. Mice avoid cats at all costs, and the faintest whiff of feline activity could send them on their way.
Whether you set the traps yourself or call in the professionals, it’s always a good idea to take a humane approach to catching mice. Old-fashioned spring mouse traps are cruel, as they very rarely kill a mouse outright. Similarly, poison can cause unnecessary suffering, and it can be harmful to any pets you have in the house too.
You can buy humane mouse traps from most pet stores and pest specialists. Alternatively, you can use a plastic bucket propped up at an angle. Set up some steps to the edge of the bucket, and place some treats inside to lure them in. If the angle of the bucket it correct, it will flip up with the weight of the mouse — leaving no way of escape.
Assess your food storage procedures
Never store any food on the floor in your home. When you find crumbs and spillages, clean them up straight away. Make sure all of your food is in sealed cabinets or a fridge freezer, and seal opened food in airtight containers.
Mind the gap
If you’ve ever had to call in an exterminator, you may have seen him or her poking a pen into gaps in walls and doors. They do this because the smallest mice are capable of squeezing into gaps small enough for an ordinary pen. Seal any holes and gaps you find in floorboards, walls, storage and doors. Pay special attention to the area around your kitchen sink, which is a hotspot for mouse activity in the home.
Any home has the potential to acquire a mouse problem. Once you have taken all the necessary precautions, you need to work at removing temptation for mice — which means constant cleaning and tidying. If there isn’t a plentiful supply of food in your property, the little critters will simply move on to the next one.
Prevention and deterrence are the most effective mouse removal strategies in most homes. Cut off their supply of food, and mice will rarely turn up at your door.