By now we’ve all noticed the falling leaves, cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours. We’ve made sure the snow blower’s ready, put the mower away, had the furnace checked and done the other things necessary to prepare for winters onslaught. In many cases, our small furry neighbors are doing what they can to get ready for winter, and that often involves moving in with those better prepared.
In most cases helping the less fortunate does not extend to the four-legged creatures living in our communities. There are a few easy steps to insuring these fellows remain outside.
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Start outside. Walk around your home’s exterior noting leaf litter, shrubs, and trees less than a foot from the house or overhanging roof areas. Make sure fruit tree litter is removed. Trimming and raking are important first steps to removing harborage and food sources.
Next check the outside of your house. Make sure gaps around utility pipes and wires are caulked, as well as gaps near windows, doors, and where any two different construction materials meet. Any gap big enough for your pen can allow access to a mouse, so careful sealing with an appropriate caulking material is a must. This will also help weatherproof your home.
Birdseed and grass seed stored in sheds and garages should be in plastic or metal bins with tight-fitting lids. The product is stored will stay fresh longer and their odors will be less likely to invite vermin in. These areas, garages, and sheds, should have some type of rodent control, especially if attached to the home. The use of poison bait should not be considered if pets, children, or nontarget animals are present on the property. Rodenticides in pellet form are often relocated by rodents. Bait blocks in tamper-resistant plastic boxes provide less risk but the problem of where is the dead pest can be a problem. Trapping with snap traps or live traps is recommended following the instructions that come with the device.
Basement and crawlspace areas should be inspected using a good flashlight. Look for access, chew marks, or mouse droppings. Don’t forget to check the sill plates as well as the floors, as mice will probably entering at ground level.
A thorough inspection of the kitchen should include behind and under the stove and refrigerator and under sinks and cabinets. If you have had mice in the past you may want to cut holes at the end of an old shoebox and put a couple of mouse size snap traps in it. These boxes can be set under the sink or behind the fridge.
Attics should also be checked each fall. Look for droppings or little burrows in the insulation. This is also an opportunity to check the screens on your roof vents and the level of insulation present.
Thirty minutes to an hour inspecting and prepping in the fall can prevent time and money consuming infestation later.