4 ways to mouse-proof the cottage
“People ask, is it really possible to totally mouseproof a cottage?” says Robert Corrigan, a consultant at RMC Pest Management Consulting in Indiana and one of North America’s leading experts on rodent control. “I’m not sure it is, but I don’t think we should make it easy for them.” Here are a few easy ways to make moving in a little harder for mice.
1. Keep wood piles and garbage pails away
Take a look at what’s around your retreat. Although they’re capable of travelling a few kilometres, mice usually only roam within a 9-sq-metre range. So if you can keep woodpiles, garbage pails or compost heaps away from the cottage and limit the sheltering vegetation, they may never get close enough to discover what a great place your cottage is.
2. Stop feeding the birds
You might also stop putting out birdseed, suggests Brad Gates, a Crystal Lake cottager and president of AAA Wildlife Control in Pickering, Ont., since a portion will inevitably end up on the ground. “By feeding the birds you’re feeding the mice and they’re going to produce more mice. So you’re asking for a larger population around your cottage.”
3. Block all of the holes
And we do mean all the holes, for mice are the Houdinis of the animal world. Their small bodies and tiny skulls allow them to slip through spaces as narrow as 6 mm. “If you can imagine it, they’ll do it,” says Terry Thorsell, owner of Critter Control, a wildlife removal company in Toronto. And once one mouse has been through, others will surely follow.
Mice lay down a chemical odour that’s almost irresistible to their colleagues. “The biggest mistake most cottagers make is that they try to attack the problem from the inside,” says Gates. “They see the mice come out of the floorboards or out from under a panel, so they block that. The mice still get in, but they just go into the walls. You have to stop them where they come into the building.”
The most common entry points are the holes for plumbing and wiring. Steel wool is the best stuffer, since it pushes into small holes and even mice don’t like crunching on it. For larger spaces, use concrete or galvanized metal mesh; caulking is simply an amuse-gueule on the mouse menu.
4. Clean up your crumbs
If the mouse does get in, it’s more likely to stay if it discovers there’s plenty of food for the taking. Clean up the crumbs, take all the food home or, if you can’t, store it in the fridge and in metal or glass containers. To thwart truly persistent mice, line a food-storage cupboard with tin or mesh (though your energy might be better spent tracking down that elusive outdoor entry hole). The absence of a smorgasbord won’t discourage all mice, however; deer mice do bring seeds and other food inside with them. “But if they get in and smell something, it could mean the difference between three or four mice moving in or 30 or 40,” says Corrigan.