Mice. Cute in cartoons, not so cute when you find you’ve got new roommates that leave behind a mess and have no intention of ever paying rent. I used to naively believe mice were strictly a country living or hoarder’s issue, until one Fall day when I noticed two telltale signs: droppings and gnawed-through bags of pantry items. I live in downtown Calgary, and needless to say, I felt unbelievably violated. On top of that, I always thought I kept a very clean home, and now I was questioning my hygiene.
Kindly, my building manager brought me two traps; the bait spot smeared with that melted bit of peanut butter and chocolate left behind on the Reece’s cup lining. Placing the traps where I had noticed the evidence of them, my building manager said it may take a couple of days before our human scent wore off the trap and they were effective. I caught two that night. Over the next week I would catch 5 more.
Fall and winter are primarily “Rodent Season”. As the weather starts to cool, mice start to seek shelter, food and warmth wherever they can find it, which unfortunately, may be your home. These agile little creatures will find their way into the most secure property, requiring only a hole the diameter of a pencil to make their way in!
Some tips to prevent these unwanted guests:
- Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open. Scurrying noises in the walls or ceiling, or sightings of droppings, chewed wires, and gnaw marks are all indications that the rodents have moved in.
- Get rid of clutter. Mice love nothing more than places to hide while they make their way to their new food source, your kitchen cupboards. In a mouse’s eyes, clutter can also be a great source for nesting materials.
- Level up your food storage. Soft sided plastics, cardboard, and bags will do little to prevent food smells escaping and tiny gnawing teeth from getting at their contents. Consider decanting your dried goods, including your pet’s food, into airtight glass or hard plastic containers.
- Close up holes and crevasses. Have a peak around windows, doors, and under your sinks or near your baseboard heaters where any plumbing or pipes may run into the wall. If you notice any gaps about a quarter of an inch wide or more, seal it or have it repaired. A mixture of steel wool and caulking compound makes a good plug to seal small openings, but it is advisable to contact your property manager for any major repairs.
- Get a cat!
A property free of pest infestations is a minimum housing standard here in Alberta, but mice don’t care about rules. That is why it is important, as a tenant, to report immediately to your property manager the first sign of their presence, and cooperate with pest control measures before things get out of hand. The longer you wait, the longer it may take to treat the problem.
In the interim, feel free to take it upon yourself to set a couple of traps. There are many inexpensive varieties out there that are readily available at your local supermarket or home store. Mice love carbohydrates (who doesn’t?) and fatty foods. Peanut butter, dog and cat food, sugary breakfast cereal, and bacon (if you’re willing to share) are all very effective forms of bait.
At the end of the day, don’t be too hard on yourself about the arrival of these unwanted guests. They are just as fearful of you as you may be of them, and come the warmer weather they will once again migrate back to the great outdoors. But until then, your property manager will make it a priority to coordinate with you and a certified pest control professional to get things back to normal as soon as possible. If you can look on the bright side, at least you finally got to cleaning and organizing those cupboards you’ve been putting off for ages!