Prairie acreage owners and farms likely have one issue in common whatever other matters might divide their interest. The pervasive and persistent intruder, the deer mouse, loves to set up shop in garages, shops and outbuildings every fall. Ignoring for the moment their very real potential for spreading the Hanta Virus we try to focus simply on keeping this flow at bay one day at a time until deep snow and cold puts an end to their persistent migrations.
During the balance of the year we manage to control them with bait stations in closed areas and skunks in open spaces but when cold weather threatens we are obliged to fall back on that most reliable of controls — the common, simple spring loaded, baited mouse trap. They are fast, reliable and as humane as traps get. A tiny percentage may get trapped while crossing rather than taking bait but the overwhelming majority move from alive to dead in seconds.
One might think it wouldn’t be possible to monkey with a design as basic as this but it is. Less expensive units feature slip arrangements which are of relatively imprecise construction and are accordingly harder to set with the necessary care required. These lower cost units are significantly less sensitive to tipping pressure and, in consequence, less effective. When you find traps in the morning with no resident but the bait plates licked clean you need better devices. Pay the little extra.
Enclosed bait stations work well in our out buildings since there is no particular control time line. A day, a week, it doesn’t make much difference. Our garage is a different matter. We store garbage cans which obliges us to close the doors for obvious reasons, but this also locks out our wandering nocturnal mouse traps. So its back to the basics.
MOUSE CONTROL IN VEHICLES
We park a Ford F150 as well as a Toyota Corolla and both seem to be mouse magnets, though in different areas. Mice invariably build on top of the block on the half ton, and unless we are fastidious in checking under the hood the first indication we have of a problem is the unmistakable smell of scorching dry grass on a hot motor. There is never a good time or place for an engine fire but one’s garage is probably the worst due to the building’s close proximity to the house and the presence of a second vehicle.
We use a high pressure commercial cattle hair drying blower to clear the mess and it works remarkably well. A minute on high and all material is literally blown onto the ground below with not a grass stem or feather in sight.
The Toyota has a peculiar attraction for mice in an entirely different area and no matter how many we trap, new arrivals invariably follow the same path to the car’s interior, almost as though previous travellers posted flashing signs pointing the way.
Mice end up in the air filter compartment attached to the car’s heating system on the passenger side and in spite of our mechanic’s best efforts there seems to be no remedy to such movement. The filter space is not hard to access but it needs doing on a regular basis. We remove the glove compartment door which creates an opening to the oblong flat filter cage found in a straight line directly toward the firewall. Two pressure snaps readily undo this attachment and the filter can be drawn forward and out. If this is done in a timely way the filter may be relatively undamaged and able to be re-used. If mice have chewed into or urinated on the paper ribs be prepared to part with something in the area of $25 plus.
Under ordinary circumstances we blow debris off the filter with the same blower noted above, vacuum the empty space and things return more or less to normal until next time. The first indication of mice in this part of the heating system will be a vaguely dusty, stale air atmosphere in the car. If your luck is particularly ghastly a mouse will have died and the car will begin to reek like only decaying flesh can stink. One might think a tiny mouse carcass would dehydrate rapidly and quickly lose its pungent odour but in our experience this is not so, certainly not in a time frame we are prepared to accept.
I would encourage folks to wear rubber or long sleeved plastic gloves at minimum and a good quality dust mask when handling mouse nest material. We are very cognizant of the dangers of disease mice represent and the small inconvenience of using gloves and the little cost of pulling them off over the garbage can is small indeed compared to the potential consequences of not doing so.
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