10 mouse-proofing tips

By Jessica LewisJessica Lewis


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Keeping mice out of the cottage is much easier than trying to get rid of them once they’ve moved in. Follow these 10 easy steps to mouse-proof your home away from home.

1. Keep woodpiles away from cottage walls

Woodpiles of any size are dark and moist, which is just what rodents look for in a home. Store wood a 9.5 foot radius away from the cottage so that it’s out of mouse-roaming range.

2. Cut grass and trim bushes regularly

According to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), long grass is a favourite of rodents, snakes, and skunks, because they can hide in it. Removing hiding places encourages small animals to live elsewhere.

3. Keep garbage away and tightly sealed

If you have a long driveway or a shaded area, store your garbage there rather than near the cottage. The smell attracts mice and other wildlife and can result in a big mess.

  • Instead of using a simple garbage can, consider investing in something heavier and with a tighter seal, such as Rubbermaid’s Animal Stopper Garbage Can, which you can find at Canadian Tire.
  • The OSPCA also recommends pouring ammonia over each full garbage bag, fastening the can’s lid with a bungee cord or heavy rock, and putting compost in separate plastic bins.

4. Store bird food in a tall, tightly-sealed container

When feeding birds, some food probably falls on the ground. Well, mice think it’s yummy too. Keeping food in a tall container with a tightly-sealed lid will keep them from crawling inside, and sweeping up after feeding will reduce the number of mice interested in the area.

5. Cap the chimney

Mice may find their way into the cottage by coming down the chimney. The OSPCA states that many small animals find themselves trapped in there, and if not rescued fast, will die. Invest in a high quality cap for your chimney without small openings. This way, no animals get hurt.

6. Plug all holes with steel wool or quick-drying cement

The best way to keep mice from coming in is by closing off their secret passages. It will take time to find all the holes, but your mind will be eased when they’re sealed. Remember: mice can fit into the tiniest of spots (the size of a dime) and climb over barriers. The best hole-plugging materials are steel wool and cement because mice won’t be able to chew through them.

7. Clean up all droppings

Hantavirus is rare, but can be carried by rodents and left in their droppings. To ensure your safety, remove droppings when you see them, and mop and disinfect the area afterwards.

  • It’s important that you don’t make Hantavirus airborne by dusting or vacuuming.
  • Always use rubber gloves when handling droppings or dead mice.

8. Store bird food and utensils in sealed containers

Keep all food in plastic or glass containers. Avoid leaving any bags open or crumbs lying around.

  • One Cottage Life reader found a way to prevent mice from soiling cutlery by storing it in a large plastic container. It not only keeps the critters from touching utensils, but also allows for easy cleanup if mice still get inside the drawer.

9. Eliminate water sources

According to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), cutting off available water supplies will encourage mice to reproduce elsewhere. So fix any leaky taps and sweating pipes, and remove open water troughs and drains.

10. Understand mice

OMAFRA states: if you really want to prevent mice from invading your cottage, it is important to know how they live so preventing them is a little bit easier. For example, knowing that mice are most active at night and that they avoid new objects (such as traps) will help you determine where to look for them and when. Additionally, knowing that mice can reproduce quickly lets you know that if there is one, there are probably many.

This article was originally published on May 4, 2010

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