How to rid your home of these tricky pests | TahoeDailyTribune.com

How to rid your home of these tricky pests

Metro Creative Editorial

Despite their diminutive size, mice can cause visible and hidden damage throughout a home. They also can be carriers of disease and contaminate many areas of the home. Getting rid of a mouse can be a tricky endeavor, but with some patience and different methods, it is possible.

Identifying a mouse

The common house mouse is 1 to 2 inches long and is gray or brown in coloring. The head and body length will be about equal to the length of the tail. The head is small and ears are large.

A mouse will eat just about any type of food, but they especially prefer to munch on seeds, cereal grains and sweet things. They get their water needs mostly from food. Mice do have two major eating times — at dawn and dusk. However, they can nibble throughout the day.

Mice like to nest in soft, warm places. In colder climates, they tend to move indoors for the comfort a house can provide. Mice will nest inside walls, in insulation, in storage boxes, in drawers, under major appliances, within the upholstery of furniture, or another secluded spot that is warm and cozy. Homeowners may see shavings of wood or other debris that is indicative of a mouse nest nearby.

Mice can spread airborne allergens that can contribute to respiratory problems, including asthma. They are also responsible for spreading Hantavirus, which causes a disease known as Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) that is fatal in more than half of all cases. Symptoms of HPS include fever, deep muscle aches and severe shortness of breath.

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Diseases are spread through the urine, dander and feces of the mice. Particles become airborne and can affect individuals living in proximity. A study in the June 2004 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported that 82 percent of rural, suburban and urban U.S. homes were found to have mouse allergens. The numbers may be higher now.

Mice tend to urinate and defecate wherever they travel. While mouse droppings are visible, urine may not be. Right now in the average household there could be mouse urine on kitchen floors, on countertops, inside of cabinets — just about anywhere.

Although mice can be cute in appearance and seem relatively harmless, sharing a space with them is not recommended (obviously unless they are pet mice and caged). Therefore, extermination methods will be needed.

Poisoning: This method can be very effective. The mouse takes poisoned bait back to the nest and eats it or shares it with other mice. Eventually the poison will take effect. However, in homes with pets or children, this may not be the best method. Also, a homeowner cannot control where the mouse will die. There may be an odor present while the mouse decomposes.

Glue traps: Glue traps are some of the most common found in stores. The mouse travels onto the trap after a piece of bait and gets stuck on the extremely sticky board. These can be effective. However, a mouse that is only partially stuck on the board may gnaw off a foot to get free.

Snap traps: The old-fashioned mousetrap is spring-loaded and will activate when the mouse trips the switch. Some mice know how to outsmart these traps.

Live traps: For homeowners who don’t want to kill the mouse, live traps have a door that will close after the mouse is inside. The mouse can be relocated far away from the house.

Keep in mind that mice tend to be wiley. They can learn to recognize traps and avoid them. Moving the traps regularly can help with trapping. Also, use gloves when handling the traps because mice can be put off by strange scents.

Because of the contaminants that are in the home from mice, it is recommended that most surfaces be cleaned with bleach. Carpets should be shampooed and vacuumed thoroughly. Items that can’t be cleaned, such as books, should be stored outside to air out.

After the mouse is eradicated, check the home for entry points. Cover them up with metal grating to prevent future access. Also, examine habits around the house and revolve to clean up crumbs, spilled food, etc. so that the home won’t be attractive to other mice.