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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Protecting your House against Mice

As winter closes in, house mice become more commonly seen in gardens as they attempt to find somewhere warm and dry to build their nests. A house that they can easily enter provides the perfect habitat; for the owner, however, the situation can be a nightmare.

Mice are extremely well-adapted to get into buildings; as well as being able to squeeze through tiny holes in damaged brick and woodwork, they can also climb, jump, swim and run along wires.

Once inside a house, they are most likely to build their nests either close to a source of food (behind a fridge, in the carcass of a kitchen cupboard or underneath a cooker for example), or somewhere that offers warmth such as in an airing cupboard or loft insulation.

The most conclusive evidence of mouse infestation is to actually see one, but as they are nocturnal you are more likely to hear them: they are most active at dusk and daybreak. Other things to look for are droppings (these are black and the size of a grain of rice), holes gnawed in skirting boards, chewed food packaging, musky smells and dirty smudge marks left behind by fur.

Mice have an excellent sense of smell, so if you don't want the aroma of food to tempt them into your house you must not leave food out for any length of time. Any food spillages or crumbs should be cleared away immediately, floors cleaned regularly and frequent checks made under cookers and fridges for stray food. Glass jars are ideal mouse-proof containers for loose food, as cardboard and plastic can be gnawed through. Rubbish should be bagged and put into a bin with a secure lid. Anything that can be used for nesting, such as tissue, cotton wool or newspaper, should also be put where mice cannot get to it.

It is essential that all holes in the structure of your house are blocked off; wire wool and caulking are ideal fillers. Pay particular attention to where your pipes come in. Check for broken airbricks and vents, and repair where necessary with fine mesh. Gaps below doors can be minimised with draught excluders. Check your fascia boards and replace if rotten.

Mice can reproduce from the age of four weeks, have five to ten litters per year and average four to eight young per litter. Therefore, if you have a problem you must act quickly! Snap traps are the traditional way of getting rid of mice, and are considered to be humane. Less humane is poison, which can also harm predators. Live traps don't kill, but you do have to make sure that you release the contents several miles from your house otherwise they may get home before you! Perhaps the easiest option is to contact a professional, who will take care of the problem quickly and efficiently.

As well as causing damage to houses, mice can spread a number of diseases: Salmonella and Lyme disease being just two. And although they may not eat vast quantities of food, anything that they touch becomes unfit for human consumption.

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