Mouse Problems?

The following is a reprint of an article from Popular Mechanics – “Weapons of Mouse Destruction: How to Eliminate Relentless Rodents.”  

As I read this article I was reminded of the first few times that a mouse had taken out out our kitchen stove.  Yes – and we had to replace them (twice).  So now you know that we have our pest control company come each year to be sure that doesn’t happen again.

The Mouse

The mouse: It’s a pest that has been invading  human living spaces ever since we holed up in caves. The hardy creatures require  little food and virtually no water, allowing them to thrive in modern buildings,  behind our walls and under our floors.
Although cute and squeaky in the  wild, mice are a dangerous nuisance in the home. The critters chew up insulation  and gnaw through electrical wiring, creating a fire hazard. Mice can contaminate  food with their feces. They carry fleas and diseases. Many people are allergic  to the animal’s urine. To top it off, the rodents breed prolifically; in several  weeks a few mice can become a dozen.
Mouse intrusions happen year-round,  but tend to spike in many parts of the country in the summer months and late  fall, according to Ralph H. Maestre, technical director at Magic Pest Management  based in Flushing, New York.  Exterminators have developed a full arsenal of  methods to kill, capture and control the millions of rodents, mostly mice, who  aim to set up shop in our homes and businesses, from the simple and iconic  mousetrap to far more elaborate attacks. Here’s a look at the weapons of mouse  destruction.

Kill Zones: Front-line Traps

The traditional way to fight mouse infestation is with  traps. Inquisitive mice can’t help but check them out, especially if there’s  bait. “Mice are very curious about the new things in their environment,” says  Jim Fredericks, director of technical services for the National Pest Management  Association.
Traps come in three basic varieties. First, classic snap  traps, whose invention dates back to 1894. “To this day, the original  old-fashioned snap trap is one of the most effective traps we have,” Fredericks  says. While going for the bait in these traps, the mouse steps on a trip and,  SNAP!, a spring-loaded bar slams down with backbreaking force.
A second  class, glue or sticky traps, uses strong adhesives to ensnare mice. (However,  glue traps have raised the hackles of some animal-rights proponents, as stuck  mice will sometimes chew through their limbs or rip themselves apart trying to  break free.)
A third and less gruesome option is multiple-catch or live  traps. Through mechanical means-spring-loaded doors, flippers,  teeter-totter-like levers and the like-the traps capture several mice in a  storage area. The spared vermin can then be deposited far from the dwelling to  keep them from coming back.
As for the choice of bait, skip the  traditional cheddar cheese. “Mice really like seeds, chocolate, peanut butter  and bacon,” says Greg Baumann, Orkin technical services  director.

Mousetraps 2.0: Unconventional Killing Machines

“Building a better mousetrap” isn’t just an adage.  Exterminator pros are always trying to come up with better ways to catch  rodents.
The Rat Zapper by AgriZap uses ordinary food bait to lure a  mouse or rat, just like a traditional mousetrap does. But then the device zaps  the rodent to kingdom come, courtesy of four D batteries. Victor makes various  electronic mouse traps as well, including one that can catch and fry 10 mice.
Another alternative trap is the NOOSKI, made in New Zealand. As a mouse  enters the trap, it must stick its head through a rubber ring-which instantly  contracts and suffocates the little bugger.
Perhaps the most advanced  mousetrap around is the RADAR (Rodent Activated Detection And Riddance) device  by U.K. company Rentokil Pest Control, geared for commercial use. When a mouse  scampers into RADAR’s tunnel and crosses two consecutive infrared beams, the  trap seals shut and floods the chamber with a deadly dose of carbon dioxide. As  a courtesy, RADAR notifies its owner via text message when the deed is done.

Poisons: Gobbling Down Some Sweet Death

If traps don’t take care of your mouse problem, maybe  it’s time to switch to chemical warfare. Poisonous baits sold in pellet form, or  in newer putty formulations, turn the natural tendency of mice to gnaw and  nibble against them.
So-called rodenticides come in a number of  varieties, but the most common are anticoagulants. These compounds cause  internal hemorrhaging, ending a mouse’s life in a few days. If you choose this  route to kill mice, however, keep a supply of vitamin K1 around: It’s an  antidote to the anticoagulants that you can give to cats and dogs if they eat  the poison, Fredericks says.
Other creative chemistries for dispatching  mice include metal phosphide-laced baits, he says. When zinc phosphide reacts  with the acid in a rodent’s stomach, highly toxic phosphine gas forms. Vitamin D  is another killing agent. The vitamin makes mice absorb too much calcium from  their food, while leaching the mineral from their bones. The resulting  hypercalcemia (excessive levels of calcium in the blood) damages the heart,  kidneys and other organs.
Fredericks points out that all pesticides,  including rodenticides, must be approved by the EPA and are regulated by state  agencies. In other words, custom cocktails are not available. “Pros definitely  don’t make their own secret recipe,” he says.

Tracking Tech: Seek and Destroy

Mice are frustratingly elusive, nibbling on food left  out at night and vanishing during the day. But, unbeknownst to the rodents, they  leave signs that reveal their movements. Those signs just happen to be in UV.  Mouse urine fluoresces in UV light, so shining a black light around can show  where the rodents pee. “The use of black lights is really a great inspection  tool,” Fredericks says, though it takes a trained eye to discern genuinely  glowing mouse urine from splashes of, say, floor-scrubbing detergent.
Simply leaving traps wherever you find mouse droppings might not be the best  approach, though, says Douglas Stern, managing partner at New Jersey-based Stern  Environmental Group. His company developed a fluorescent powder that could help  you track mice back to their nests. “When the mice walk on the powder, they get  it on their feet and it leaves a footprint,” Stern says. To get the powder onto  the mice, load it into a box with food or dust it onto cotton balls, which the  mice nab as nesting material. Then follow the footprints, which appear under UV,  to find where the mice have set up shop. This lets you set up traps there, or  seal off an outside entry point if mice are entering into the house from  outdoors.
The so-called Track & Trap system has yet to become  widespread, but Stern envisions the product having key niche applications. ‘I  think it’s going to be very popular in instances where you have mice running  around and no one knows where they’re coming from,‚Äù he tells PM. Meanwhile,  major manufacturer Bell Labs has also started selling rodenticide food pellets  doped with chemicals to make mouse

Fight Animals With Animals

Release the hounds! Exterminators today are taking a  cue from law enforcement and turning to dogs’ supersensitive noses for smelling  bed bugs, ants and termites. Dogs are just beginning to enter the field of mouse  control, Fredericks says, but canines could potentially sniff out rodent  headquarters.
Cats, of course, are the traditional nemesis of mice. “I  think there’s probably a lot of farmers that would swear their barn cats keep  the mice out,” Fredericks says. But the idea of a house cat attacking your mouse  problem is probably more cartoon fodder than reality. A standard domesticated  cat that lives in a house is probably not really hungry enough to be interested  in killing mice,” he says. In fact, Baumann describes a case where mice stole  cat food right out of the dish and hoarded it under the stove without the pet so  much as raising a paw.
Finally, for those homeowners who aren’t like  Indiana Jones, snakes are always a fine predatory option. Case in point: Corn  snakes, a popular, nonvenomous pet which winds around prey constrictor-style,  love dining on mice.
Ultimately, there’s no guarantee that a barrage of  traps, poisons or high-tech repellents will solve a mouse problem, especially if  mice find your home to be a sanctuary. The best approach, then, is one of the  simplest: Make your home inhospitable to rodents. “Keep in mind, mice are pretty  much like us. They need food, water and a place to live,” Baumann says.  Eliminate those resources by keeping the house clean and sealed off, and store  food in secure containers.

Repellants and Fortifications: Defense is the Best  Offense

Preventing rodents from infiltrating the home in the  first place has become big business. A number of rodent-repelling odorants are  sold at hardware and home stores, including Critter Out spray, Fresh Cab Scent  Pouches and Shake Away Rodent Repellant Granules that claim to smell like  predators, banking on fear to keep mice away. Some people swear by strong  scents, such as pine or cayenne peppers, or even dryer sheets. But experts say  the effectiveness is questionable.
On the high-tech side, several  companies offer ultrasonic repellers that supposedly keep mice at bay with sound  waves. These devices send out sound waves above 20 kilohertz, the typical human  high-end threshold for hearing, and some modulate between 32 and 64 kHz so  undesirable animals cannot adapt. But Orkin’s Baumann and others are skeptical.  “My favorite is the fact when [manufacturers] say these things will repel  insects, rodents, birds-only the bad stuff-but if you have a bird or a dog, it  won’t be affected,” Baumann says. “There might be some promise with these  products coming out in the near future, but I’ve not seen any scientific data to  suggest that they actually work.”
Simply shoring up a home might be the  best way to thwart rodent intruders. Do a residence self-inspection by checking  the foundation for holes, and spaces under doors. “If you walk around your house  and see any hole that a pencil can fit though, a mouse can fit through,” Baumann  says. Seal up those holes with caulk, weatherstripping or steel wool, which mice  can’t chew through. Follow up with regular patrols of your property.

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