You don’t have to check your overbooked summer calendar to know that a cottage is a hot commodity. Unfortunately, it’s not just your friends and relatives who are hoping to pop by and share your slice of heaven. A cadre of Canadian critters, from mice and squirrels to raccoons and even bats are just as eager to hole up with you for the weekend. And, unlike your sunburnt relatives, they won’t be heading back to the city on Sunday night. In the spirit of privacy from pests, here are seven of our top ways to keep your cottage clear of unwanted critters.
1. Fill the holes in your walls
Houdini had nothing on the common mouse, which can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime. To keep them out of your walls (and their droppings out of your cereal cupboard), search for tiny openings or cracks in your walls, foundation, and soffits, and seal them. For tough-to-seal holes around pipes, stuff them with steel wool, which mice won’t chew through. You can also dissuade mice from shacking up with you by filling a spray bottle with water and adding 12 drops of peppermint essential oil. The mint will deter mice—and keep your cottage smelling fresh!
2. Seal your food
If you leave food at your cottage—particularly during winter while you’re away—you’re asking for trouble. For staples like cereal, oats, pancake mix, and pet food that you don’t want to pack up every week, make sure you’re using resealable food containers. As an added bonus, your food will stay fresher!
3. Get a grip on garbage
Whether you have curbside pickup or you cart your waste to the dump on your way back to the city, your trash is a treat for wildlife. Clever cottage country critters like raccoons won’t be deterred by strong bags or basic canisters. To keep your garbage from being strewn about your driveway, and to keep animals from marking your home or cottage as a hot spot for easy eats, invest in a garbage can with a strong locking seal.
4. Stash your seeds
If you’re a lawn-care enthusiast, there’s a good chance your garage or shed has a smorgasbord of mouse feed in the form of grass seed. Remember that just because it isn’t food to you, doesn’t mean a family of mice won’t make a meal of it. To keep mice out, you need sealed storage bins.
5. Trim your trees
Unless you want to lie awake at night listening to red squirrels rummage around in your attic, trim any tree branches that extend to your roof. Doing so will also deter carpenter ants which commonly use trees as an entry point into your dwelling. Carpenter ants will also seek sources of moisture, so in addition to trimming your trees, look for leaks in your gutters, roof, floors and decks. Storing your woodpile far from your cottage and inspecting every piece before you bring it indoors will also help keep ants away. But in case there’s a breach, be sure to have ant traps on hand.
6. Pick up fruit
You might not have a use for each peach, pear, and plum that drops from the fruit-bearing trees on your property, but they’re a favourite food source of many cottage critters. To keep them at bay, be sure to gather the fruit as (or before) it falls. It’s the perfect excuse to retrieve those Mason jars from your cellar and do some canning!
7. Give bats an abode
If you’re frightened of brown bats, your fears are somewhat reasonable. They’re occasional carriers of rabies, and their messy droppings can lead to other health issues like histoplasmosis (a fungal lung infection that can spread throughout the body). That said, bats are mosquito-devouring machines! They can eat up to 1,200 mosquitos every waking hour, making them a cottager’s best friend. To dissuade bats from entering your attic, seal any entry holes, then provide a bat house elsewhere on your property. Make sure to wait until you close the cottage in the fall, otherwise you may trap the bats in. You’ll get all of the mosquito-munching benefits, and you won’t have to worry about going batty with bats in your attic.