Yes, there are ways that mice and men can live in harmony, in a manner of speaking. It’s tricky but it’s possible and here’s how.
We often think of rodents, such as rats and mice, as simpletons that exist on earth for a single reason – to be pests that bring about disease and destruction to human property. We generally don’t like them as pets, too, although there are people who keep them as such, as well as laboratory animals due to their similarities with humans. We also find ways to get rid of them, often by any means necessary even when it means killing them – and if some people have their way, killing them to extinction.
But here’s the thing about rats and mice: They are complex beings, too! They are highly intelligent creatures – and that’s the reason why they are used as laboratory subjects, as sad as it sounds – with the capacity to learn new things, retain information and understand concepts, even experience a wide range of emotions.
They are social creatures, too, who become attached to each other, enjoy playing and sleeping while curled up against each other. They are even fastidious about their grooming habits – they are known to groom themselves several times every day despite their seemingly dirty appearance. They even have a natural pleasant perfume-like scent, too.
So, why do humans in general hate rats and mice? There are many individual reasons but it can be attributed to the less-than-cute appearance of rodents – guinea pigs are the notable exceptions – and the fact that they can transmit bacteria in their feces and urine (e.g., leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can be fatal).
But it’s also possible to live in harmony, in a manner of speaking, with mice and rats! Here are a few tips that we think will be useful, from preventive measures to live catch traps.
Start with Effective Preventive Measures
Keep in mind that effective and efficient rodent control programs are wholistic in the sense that these integrate deterrents, repellents and exclusion measures as well as adaptive to the specific circumstances. While hiring a professional rodent exterminator is often the knee-jerk reaction among homeowners in dealing with domestic rodents, it isn’t exactly a foolproof plan, far from it. While it’s usually a last resort, especially when preventive measures haven’t worked out for one reason or another, it shouldn’t be the first line of defense.
Instead, the first line of defense is the adoption of preventive measures designed to prevent rodents from entering your home in the first place. When rodents aren’t attracted to stay in your home, you won’t have a problem.
Here are a few steps that we think will work in every home.
- Eliminate the rodents’ access to food in your home. Rodents are strongly attracted to places with sufficient supply of food and shelter, even building materials like cotton, both indoors and outdoors. For this reason, keep your kitchen’s counters, floors and cabinets free of crumbs as well as store pet food and dry food in chew-proof containers; metal containers work best.
- Seal trash bins so that rodents cannot access their contents, which are particularly attractive due to the food scraps and building materials. Use bungee cords, if you have them, on the lids of trash bins for this purpose.
- Clean your pets’ food bowls and never feed them outdoors. Otherwise, the leftovers can become the rodents’ food source and, thus, you’re effectively feeding them. Avoid feeding wild animals, too, for this reason.
- Pick up fallen fruits and vegetables in your lawn or orchards, if possible, since these are also food sources for rodents.
- Decrease, if not eliminate, the number of hiding places for rodents. Trim grass and vegetation as well as store grills, barbecues and outdoor furniture, even wood piles, away from your home; an outdoor shed is usually recommended for their storage.
- Find and seal the entry points through which rodents enter your home. Use a flashlight in locating these points, usually cracks, holes and gaps in the all, door and pipes; rats can fit through quarter-size holes while mice can squeeze through even the tiniest holes, even a dime-sized one. Look for signs of rodent activity, such as chew marks and feces.
Use insulation or steel wool when sealing entry points. Cover these points with hardware cloth, form sealant or metal flashing once you’re sure the rodents are gone.
- Use rat repellents, such as rags cotton balls soaked in ammonia; the animals don’t like the smell and, thus, will leave. Other ideas include a radio with rock music on and a strobe light.
These preventive measures require regular applications, too. Rodents can return to your home so it’s best to regularly check for signs of rat activity and for entry points.
Use Humane Methods of Rodent Control
Poisons and glue traps are among the common ways of rodent control – or to be blunt about it, of killing rats and mice. But these are not just extremely cruel to the animals – these can also be dangerous to humans and pets, such as with poison ingestion!
Where does the extreme cruelty come in? Rats and mice don’t usually consume enough poison to instantly kill them so they suffer from a slow and painful death, often stretched out for a few days – and it isn’t a humane way to end a life. There’s also the high risk of non-target animals, such as pets and wildlife, ingesting the poisons resulting in adverse effects, if not death for them, too; in some cases, non-target animals can still suffer from poison’s side effects without direct ingestion, such as when they eat a poisoned rat.
Even glue traps aren’t safe for humans and small animals! Indeed, both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Health Canada caution against the use of glue traps for rodent control.
Furthermore, lethal methods on rodent control aren’t effective and efficient in the long run, not to mention that these can actually backfire. Why? When animals are either removed or killed, the food supply increases resulting in accelerated breeding among the rodents, in both the survivors and the newcomers. The law of supply and demand works here but the bottom line is that the rodent population will likely increase with the application of these lethal methods.
What to do then? Use live cage or box traps! These are considered as humane methods of rodent control since the captured rats and mice can be released outdoors later. The website, Mr. Mouse Trapper, has put together a list of best humane mouse traps available on the market right now that shows their efficiency and success rate.
Ask about these humane methods and you will be surprised at their efficacy.