Published on 12/29/10

People, mice head indoors for winter

By Sharon Dowdy

When temperatures drop, Georgians scurry indoors to keep warm. Unfortunately, so do mice. A University of Georgia expert offers tips on keeping unwanted furry house guests from hoarding heat.

“Mice can occasionally venture in this time of year looking for warmth,” said Jim Crawford, the UGA Cooperative Extension agent in Jefferson County. “It only takes a small crack or an open door to get an uninvited house guest.”

Mice want to be warm, too

Mice normally nest in grass, brush or woody areas around homes. But when it gets cold outdoors, they leave these nests and search for warmer habitats, like inside homes, offices or other structures, he said.

Most homeowners don’t know they’re harboring mice until they see mouse droppings, which resemble black grains of rice. Another sure sign is chew marks on food containers and packages.

Get rid of their food source

Crawford says the first step to ridding your home of mice is to take away their food source. Keep garbage cans covered and food items stored in tightly sealed containers. This includes pet food.

Next, remove any weeds, trash, boards, firewood or other debris near the exterior of homes and buildings. “These objects provide excellent cover for mice in the winter and snakes in the summer,” Crawford said.

Make sure doors seal tightly and window and door screens are in good shape. Apply caulk to seal cracks around pipes and utilities where mice can squeeze their ways indoors.

Baits work, but they can cause a stink

If possible, don’t use poison baits. “Baits can pose a threat to small children and pets,” he said. “Besides, mice will consume the poison and die behind walls and in other unreachable places and cause a terrible odor.”

The old-fashioned mouse trap is still the best method, Crawford said. Place traps next to walls, under furniture, in the pantry or behind the stove.

“Always position a trap so the trigger is next to the wall,” he said. “This way you get them from either direction if they’re running along the baseboard.” Use cheese or peanut butter as bait and check and reset traps often.

Cats are truly the oldest method of control

Amanda Omahen uses an even older method of mouse removal: A cat.

“Luckily, our cat is a mouser,” she said. “We had a mouse in our house, I shrieked and pointed, and my cat took over from there.”

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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