Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
I want to mouse and rat proof my house. Well, as best I can anyway. At my old house mice and rats were just a fact of life in the ghetto. We couldn’t prevent them so we learned to live with them. Mouse and rat poison was always on my grocery lists. I kept boxes, bags, and blocks of poison out continually but the mice and rats thrived anyway. A major part of the problem was that the neighborhood was dirty with all manner of garbage, paper trash, tall weeds, and junk. Only a few people had pride in where they lived, the rest didn’t care. That whole area was prime real estate for the mice and rats and other pests. All through the area were empty houses, broken down cars, open top trash cans or trash bags torn open by stray dogs and cats, and other things like soiled baby diapers and fast food containers thrown from car windows onto the street. It really was a losing battle trying to rid a house of the varmints.
This new neighborhood is very clean. No junk cars, trash, high weeds, or stray dogs allowed. No car toss trash is visible anywhere. In other words this whole area is doing its part to prevent mice and rats or other pests. No matter how clean a neighborhood is there will still be mice and rats but not nearly as many. As far as I know I don’t have a mouse or rat problem and I want to do all I can to prevent getting one. I want to make my house a dreaded place for mice and rats. When I write “mice” in these posts I’m really talking about rats too.
In order to beat an enemy you must first study your enemy and learn everything possible so you know the weaknesses. I learned quite a bit about mice from dealing with them for years and doing lots of reading. I kept hoping my research would turn up some miracle to get rid of mice and rats. Never happened. I’ll go over what I know and then explain what I’m doing to prevent any from setting up residence in my new house. I don’t want my posts to get too lengthy so I’ll be dividing it into shorter posts.
If you see one mouse then there are probably dozens more around or soon will be. Mice have many predators so mother nature adapted them to have lots of babies quickly. The female mouse is truly a birthing machine. She will have between 6 and 10 babies about ten times a year and most of them will be female. The female mouse will get pregnant again within hours after giving birth. A new litter is often ready to be born at the same time a current litter is mature. Each baby reaches maturity in about a month and will start making babies of their own. One female mouse in a house has the potential to turn into 60 in about 4 months and those have the potential to become 3,600 in 8 months if not prevented. Mice are dangerous to human beings. They carry deadly diseases and they destroy many of the things we humans depend on for daily living like food, clothing, and paper materials. Houses with mice have a very distinct ammonia like odor that’s unmistakable. Mice stink and mice make a house stink! Rats stink worse than mice.
Mice will eat just about anything including each other or their own offspring and everything else in between. Their favorite foods are sweets and seeds. Seeds would include anything from grass seed to salted nuts to dry beans. Mice have a very good sense of smell. The tiniest crumb or seed will attract them. A kitchen trash can with food scraps or a dirty stove top is like a smorgasbord of food just waiting to be eaten. A chocolate bar or a snack bag of sunflower seeds or bowl of popcorn left out are irresistible and really calls them! Mice can smell food right through paper, cardboard, plastic, and walls. Only glass, metal, and heavy duty plastic will deter them but if the lids are not air tight a mouse can smell the food inside. A mouse will gnaw through a plastic lid or metal top to get at the food inside but will look for easier obtainable food first.
When mice find good sources of meals they then look for nesting places and nesting materials inside a house too. As a quilter and crafter I’ve always had to be aware that mice will seek out batting as nesting material but fabric and yarn make great nesting stuff too. As well as quilt books or magazines. My mouse proofing plans are to keep everything inside thick plastic containers with tight fitted lids and move everything frequently. Mice don’t like areas where things get moved around a lot because it confuses their scent trails. The inside of upholstered couches, chairs, and mattresses are especially attractive to mice as nesting areas. Inside those places are ideal conditions for raising a litter. Its dark, loaded with nesting material, rarely moved, not far from food and water. You could be setting on a couch watching tv or sleeping in bed while a mouse is giving birth underneath you. Box springs make good mouse nesting sites. Trust me, its pretty horrifying to start making your bed in the morning and discover mouse droppings on the pillow where your head was last night. Its very creepy!
Its nearly impossible to keep mice out of your house when they’re searching for new territory. Mice look for certain conditions when house hunting:
My goal is to make my house a miserable place for mice, rats, ants, or any other varmints. I can’t keep them from searching but I certainly can make my home less inviting.
TO BE CONTINUED: