Getting rid of mice from a household as early as possible is of paramount importance, since mice carry many diseases and are very troublesome to eradicate once established.
Everybody loved the adorable, street-smart rodents in Stuart Little and Ratatouille, but when they start being not-so-adorable pests — which is always — we cannot sleep in peace until they have been driven out from our household. These creatures are best left on the celluloid screen, since, in reality, they cause substantial damage to household furniture, food, and can carry several diseases. Mouse droppings carry many parasites and can ruin the hygiene in your house in no time. Also, rats carry mites, which cause allergies and numerous skin disorders.
Many people can’t differentiate between a rat and a mouse on first sight. The only marked difference is the size of the two – rats are much larger than mice – but since both are equally damaging to the household, catching sight of either is cause for immediate action against them. Mice reproduce very quickly, so a delay in getting rid of the early ones can result in an interminable populace.
Another less distinct marker is that rats usually range from dark brown to black, whereas mice may be white or brown. This is especially useful when trying to differentiate between baby rats and adult mice (even juvenile rats are larger than adult mice, but the difference is not markedly obvious).
The most irritating of the traits these annoying little pests possess is their amazing ability to stay hidden in dark nooks and niches you didn’t even know existed. Seeing one mouse in your house is often a sign that there are many more where it came from. Getting rid of them, then, may sound like a never-ending battle; however, there are many simple ways to rid yourself of these pesky pests.
As we all know, prevention is better than cure. Maintaining these simple routine checks will drastically reduce the chances of mice gaining entry into your household in the first place.
Seal all small cracks in the floor, walls and vents. The cracks may look tiny, but that’s just the window mice need to scurry in.
Installing meshes on windows will keep the rodents out, but there is a risk of mice gnawing through them.
Food items should be stored in airtight containers made from plastic, glass or metal. Cardboard boxes don’t stand a chance against the ever-growing rodent incisors.
Floors should be cleaned and all stray food particles removed, since mice have an excellent sense of smell, which some claim is better than that of dogs.
Mice hate the aroma of mints. Mint plants, crushed mint leaves (changed regularly) or a trail of peppermint oil in areas frequented by mice help keep them away. This is useful to prevent as well as banish mice.
If, in spite of the preventive measures, mice do sneak into your house, there are numerous ways to get rid of them.
There are numerous varieties of mouse traps, such as the traditional snap traps and glue traps, which capture mice in adhesive on a cardboard sheet, or live traps, which can range from commercially sold designs to DIY contraptions. All are almost equally effective, but the glue trap has been criticized due to the fact that the rodent is neither captured alive nor killed instantly.
The most effective baits to lure mice to the traps are cheese — as repeatedly demonstrated in the cartoon series Tom and Jerry — peanut butter, bread, rice, etc. However, the amazing adaptability of mice means that almost any food item, particularly sweet or aromatic ones, would suffice.
This is one of the simplest ways of keeping your house mouse-free. Cats have a natural predatory instinct towards mice, and can also be an excellent pet. However, despite popular belief, cats cannot fully exterminate mice, since they can hide in nooks and corners that the cat cannot reach.
This is an effective way of exterminating mice, but can be risky if you have children or other pets. Apart from the commercially sold ‘rat poisons’, bait mixed with borax powder can also be used as an easily available rodent poison.
Electronic repellers emit ultrasonic sounds that humans can’t hear and rodents hate. But doubts have been raised on the efficacy of such instruments, mainly on their range and their long-term functioning.
Experiences and studies have shown that different populations of mice have varied affinity towards particular foodstuff and resilience to particular poisons. Thus, this is a ‘trial and error’ method, rather than a proven fix. So, if your bait does not work, switch over to another. But if mice still flourish after repeated efforts, it is time to abandon the ‘home remedies’ and call in the professionals.