Design & DIY

4 mouse-proofing strategies wacky enough to work

A black cat staring at a mouse in the foreground By Viacheslav Lopatin/Shutterstock

Got mice? Desperate times call for wildly desperate rodent-proofing. We ran four extreme strategies past the experts to find out if these wacky moves could actually work. (The answers will surprise you.)

1. Install a live owl
Or some other wild predator. A weasel. A family of martens. A snake. Maybe all of them at the same time.

Would it work? Sure would. “The presence of a predator in the cabin would deter mice from seeking refuge in the first place,” says Tom Sullivan, a professor emeritus of wildlife ecology and conservation at UBC.

Feasible-o-meter says Low. You might just be trading one bad roommate for another, possibly worse, roommate—one that regurgitates all the time and, by the way, isn’t actually that wise.

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2. Ditch the cottage; build a concrete bunker

The rest of the lake will hate you, but when the Doomsday Clock strikes midnight—vindicated!

Would it work? Well, yes. It’s not likely that mice could gnaw through a concrete wall, says Gary Ure of Second Nature Wildlife Management in Gananoque, Ont. Unfortunately, they could gnaw through everything else. So a windowless, doorless bunker, with no plumbing, electricity, or air supply, would really be the way to go.

Feasible-o-meter says Low. You’d never get a permit. (Pfft. Building officials.)

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3. Source tons of cats. No, wait. Source tons of cat urine
And spray it all over the place. Gather used kitty litter in decorative bowls, and set them out like potpourri.

Would it work? Not reliably. “Mice may avoid predator odours for a while, but longevity and consistency of repellency has so far eluded us,” says Sullivan. “I have worked on this problem for many years.”

Feasible-o-meter says Medium. Because the man’s not giving up: “I still think the idea has great potential,” says Sullivan.

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4. Establish a decoy building
You’ve heard of the Decoy Wallet, right?

Would it work? Yes. If your somewhat mouse-proofed cottage is beside one that is not mouse-proofed at all, the mice will go for the easier target. Mice are opportunistic, says Ure. “They’re like us. Or maybe we’re like them.”

Feasible-o-meter says High. But only if your close neighbours are the laziest humans on earth.

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