They might look cute in cartoons, but in and around the home, these rodents can be a real problem. Their urine is smelly, they are destructive and they carry disease. And yet, because of the way that humans live, they love living in close proximity to us.
You have to understand that last sentence very well, they live with us because of the way we live.
We give them food, and we give them shelter. We also get rid of their natural enemies, such as snakes.
Cats, of course, are a favourite method of getting rid of mice and rats, but cats come with a host of problems of their own, such as owning a pet, or allergies, or having cat hair on all the furniture, and not all people are open to the idea of owning cats.
In order to get rid of mice, we have to take away the comfortable spaces we have provided for them.
Before I go into that though, I would like to say something about using poison.
Although poison has been very well proven to get rid of rats and mice, they have a couple of serious negative effects.
First is the side effect on pets such as dogs and cats (and wildlife!) when they get hold of poisoned rodents. The poison goes straight into our pets, and the next moment the pet owner is stuck with a huge vet bill, or at the least with a sick pet.
Secondly, there is the problem of dead mice and rats stinking up the place. As anybody who has had a stinky dead rat in the roof-space can attest to, that smell lingers for weeks, even months, and is difficult to get out.
Also, there is the thought of bringing any animal to a slow and painful death. Poison is ugly, and no matter how much the package promises a quick death, it is never as quick and painless as promised.
The biggest problem with using poisons though, is that it is not a lasting solution. Yes, you will get rid of your rodents. A few weeks to a few months down the line though, you can be guaranteed to hear the scampering of little feet on the ceiling boards, or smell the stench of their urine in the kitchen cupboards.
Cut off their food supply
The way to get rid of rodents is to get rid of the reasons they live where they are living. To start off with, find and take away their food source. They might be living on your food, eating their way through plastic packaging to get to whatever is inside. They are very diverse in what they eat, so you have to look at absolutely everything, from dried foods such as uncooked spaghetti, to nuts and dried fruit.
Get yourself proper plastic containers, or even better, steel tins to keep stuff in. (Steel tins will be better for things like cookies and rice). Anything that the rodents cannot chew their way into will do. Also, watch where you keep your fresh veggies, the critters might be getting into your vegetable racks.
Be careful of where food might get wasted, such as behind counters, tables or behind and under fridges, and remember to involve the whole family, teach the kids that messy living invites rodents into the house.
Check the area where you keep your trash. If they are using your trash as a food-source, you might have to build or purchase a container which seals tight to keep your trash in. Wheelie bins are excellent for this purpose, as long as they get cleaned our regularly.
Another thing they like is compost heaps. If you are going to keep a compost heap, keep it as far away from the house as possible, and make sure you work it regularly to disrupt the rodentsí holes and burrows.
Take away their comfy home
Next, make their life uncomfortable for them. Find the places where they live, which will usually be nests where they breed. Seal up the holes where they are coming and going. If it is a single hole, you can try something like expanding foam to fill up the hole. Roof spaces and under floorboards are more difficult, but it is still vital that you get them out of there.
Check for droppings to see where they are, and where they like to move around.
Relocating your rodents
Catching and releasing rodents to a new location is an arduous but fun venture. These guys are clever and quick, and will test your patience and skill.
There are a couple of traps on the market, but quite frankly, if you are only catching one a day, you are wasting your time, they breed faster than that.
There are some methods, like the bucket with the swiveling lid, which works well and can catch a couple of critters per night.
A favourite method which my partner uses is to hide food in a large bin-bag.
She checks the bag every few hours, moving with stealth so they donít hear her, and then quickly closing the bag.
Any rodents caught get tipped into a bucket and taken to a field far from our yard.
Spring traps are nasty!
There is no more needed to be said on this subject!
Don't get bitten!
If you are going to relocate rodents, be sure to use a stout set of gardening gloves to prevent them biting you. If you do get bitten, best to have a tetanus shot at the very least.
And lastly, always remember the motto - Prevention is better than cure!