Mice. They will eat you out and about at home, or at least they will leave their little offerings (yes, poop!) So that you can’t eat your food anyway for fear of a parasitic infection or worse. They are cute, but the potential damage they can cause is far from it.
So how can you make your home less attractive to smaller rodents? Prevention is key. First of all, you want to prevent mice from entering your home. But how? The trick is knowing what’s on a mouse’s home search checklist:
- near a water source
- safe from cats, rats, weasels and rat dogs
- lots of cracks and crevices to sneak into, hide and travel from room to room without being seen
- and last but not least, an abundant supply of food
In fact, it is the latter that will make or fail your efforts to keep the mouse population at bay in a rural home.
I think the whole time I lived in the city (over 20 years), I think we had mice maybe once. Then there was the old house that had rats on the walls … but that’s another story. Overall, it was not an ongoing problem. So when we moved to our little farm in the woods, I had no idea what to expect. None. So naive, so naive …
It started slowly. We moved in April so the weather was getting warmer and the mice were moving outside anyway. But the house had been empty for quite some time before we started the renovations. Then we spent another 6 months of being there during the day, painting and repairing floors. And it’s a log cabin, with lots of little cracks and ways for mice to get in. Basically, it was his home. Period.
That fall was when I realized that we were sharing our home with a mother mouse and her babies. Which sounds kind of cute until you find their poop all over your kitchen counter (gross, gross, gross!). And they nibble large holes in their expensive organic avocados, rendering them inedible for fear of a horrible rodent epidemic. The strangest thing they ate was a jalapeño pepper. A jalapeno pepper !!! I can’t even eat a whole jalapeño … It’s crazy.
So I quickly learned that there are a few things that will reduce the appeal of your kitchen to your four-legged friends. Here are five to get you started:
- Check your cabinets (even the upper ones) for any hole that may allow a mouse to enter. I’m talking about the size of a dime and sometimes less depending on the size of the mouse. If you find a hole or crack, fill it in with some steel wool or putty, or seal it with some kind of attractive trim.
- Put all grains, flour, and other staples in glass jars or jars., hermetically sealed (yes, even if they are in the sealed cabinets, you never know).
- Place any food you have left on the counter in sealed containers and all fruit in a metal mesh container with a lid. At a minimum, wrap the fruit in thick produce storage bags so the smell doesn’t emanate (at least not that strong). Warning: I’ve had mice chew on those bags to get to a ripe banana. Not mouse-proof, but mouse-resistant.
- Make sure all your dishes are washed before going to bed., or at least well rinsed. Any food left on the plates is gourmet to a mouse. Delicious! Also be sure to clean the countertops with a vinegar / water solution (one part vinegar to 4 parts water should do this) or your favorite kitchen countertop cleaner. Any food smell will attract them like barbecued ribs at a back door party.
- Vacuum and sweep, a lot! If you have kids (or a messy spouse), check your seats and floor for crumbs after meals. Preferably after they get up. Those little pieces of food you see on the ground? They could feed a whole family of mice. And keep them coming back for more. Forever.
If you put these five solutions into practice, you should reduce the attractants in your home for mice, and they may move on. Of course, I’m kidding. In reality, they will never move on. Unless you get a cat. Even then they will probably just tease the cat. But at least they’ll eventually stop pooping on the counter.