Tips on trapping mice and rodent-proofing your homestead.
Rodent Proofing Your Homestead
- Seal all cracks larger than one-fourth inch (the space needed for a mouse to slip through) with hardware cloth, metal sheeting or mortar.
- Trim back tree branches so none come within 6 feet of your roof.
- In barns and outbuildings, seal rooms where you keep feed, or put feed in metal containers with tight-fitting lids.
- Keep the areas around your house, barn and outbuildings clean to reduce or eliminate rodent hangouts. Allow a margin of mowed open space between buildings and nesting sites, such as a woodpile.
- Inside your house, stack stored goods off the floor, on pallets or shelves, and leave some open space along the base of all walls.
- Forget about using ultrasonic devices to deter rodents with high-frequency sound. There is zero scientific evidence that they work. (And when a company you trust promotes such a device, ask for proof that it works.)
Tips on Trapping Mice
- For bait, use peanut butter rolled with oats or attach sunflower seeds to the trigger plate with a hot glue gun.
- Put out many traps all at once. More mice will be trapped the first night than at any other time. Put out twice as many traps as you think you have mice, placed in groups of two or three at irregular intervals.
- Keep a record of where you put traps so you can go back and get them.
- Trap for three days, gather up all the traps and then do another mass trapping a week later.
- To find where to place traps, sprinkle talcum powder in likely places and check for footprints, or follow trails of droppings. You also can use an ultraviolet lamp to look for traces of rodent urine, which is fluorescent in UV light. Urine may be widespread because it and leaves a trail wherever they go.
- To nab a rat in cold weather, attract it to the warmth of a cardboard box outfitted with a shop light. Cut an entry hole in the box, and place a baited snap trap inside. Check daily, but don't move the trap until the rat is caught.
Careful Rodent Cleanup
- Spray the rodent and the trap with a mixture of 1 1/2 cups bleach mixed in a gallon of water.
- Wear rubber gloves, and quickly drop the rodent into a plastic bag. Double-bag the catch before disposing of it in the garbage.
- Use the same bleach solution to wet down areas strewn with rodent droppings before wiping everything clean with paper towels while wearing rubber gloves. This procedure will kill a lot of the bacteria present and also will reduce the likelihood that hantavirus will become airborne. Extremely rare, hantavirus is a respiratory disease carried by rodents that can be deadly to humans. It can be inhaled if you sweep or vacuum areas where rodents have been active.
- It's wise to wear a dust mask in dusty barns where rodent activity is high, just to stay on the safe side.