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controls for mice, ideas brainstorm

 
pollinator
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We have a mouse problem. We have set 3 kinds of traps and caught 0 mice in them. However, we see that often the traps have been sprung or moved to a different location.

Here are my observations on the mice themselves:

Description
The body length is about 3 inches with a 3 inch long hairy tail. The body width is an inch and a quarter. The fur is chocolate brown. They are capable of flattening themselves to get through tight spots such as under doors.

Diet
They are not interested in wheat or corn. The food they tend to raid from us includes nuts, avocados, apples, bananas, potatoes, chocolate, and they like to nibble on bones and shells (probably for calcium). They also consume rubber and silicone on cooking utensils and have destroyed 4 baking spatulas.

Behaviour
They are cautious and at least smart enough to avoid being trapped. They will only run to get away if you move suddenly and they otherwise only move when they can't see your eyes. They habitually return to the same spots to find food. We have found several nests with no sign of food brought back to them, leading us to believe that they have a separate location for eating that we have not discovered or else eat the food where they find it. The nests are round and made of leaves with paper and grass inside and a layer of pulled mouse fur in the middle.

Ideas for Control:
I suggested a hairless cat. Grandma shot it down. Grandma suggested a chicken I pointed out that chickens can't be potty trained. So that's out.

Then I thought of giving the mice pansteatitis, by feeding them oxidized animal fats.

Another solution I have considered is an extract of datura placed on bait.

Still further, baiting them with lead acetate (which tastes sweet).
 
pollinator
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You need to bait your traps with a strong odor they can't resist.  I've found peanut butter works pretty well, but a dab of tuna is even better.
 
gardener
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Cats!

The most amazing mousetrap I know of is a cat.  

Too bad your grandma shot down the idea.

Eric
 
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This works for chipmunks as well.

 
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Ruth Meyers wrote:You need to bait your traps with a strong odor they can't resist.  I've found peanut butter works pretty well, but a dab of tuna is even better.



I've never tried tuna but agree that peanut butter works great!

We also found that all traps are not equal...try to find the metal and wood ones with the strong spring action.  There are poorly made ones that don't work as well, some with a silly plastic piece of cheese...

In the end though, I think cats work the best and eventually, we found that just their presence keeps the mice away.
 
gardener
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I agree with the others about cats but if grandma says no then we must move on.
Here's a new idea from outside the box... I haven't needed to try this (we have lots of cats) but A good friend has and claimed it worked well for him.
Plain cheap dryer sheets placed where the mice go , supposedly will drive them off quickly!   The down side of course... is the smell... drive me off quickly as well.
Give it a try if you can and let us know.

what-doesnt-kill-you-funny-mouse-meme.jpg
[Thumbnail for what-doesnt-kill-you-funny-mouse-meme.jpg]
 
pollinator
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We use sticky traps sometimes they work good, sometimes, the mice start to learn what they are.  We bait with katsup.  The bucket trap that Keith posted a youtube link to has not worked all the well for us for some reason (might just be us though).  I would have to agree that cats work the best.  We had cats outside last year, and hardly any mice, but we got rid of most of them.  Out of the two that we kept, one was stolen (YES! we think it was our pizza delivery lady... who does that??? I didn't want to call her boss because I didn't want her to get fired, but we weren't too happy about it... anyway, I digress), the other one, poor little thing, he got out on the road and was hit.  After we gave up the ones we had and lost the other two the mouse population in our house exploded!  I'm not really an indoor cat person, but I'm really REALLY not an indoor mouse person, so I think we are going to have to get a cat.
 
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What traps are you using? They are NOT created equally.

We use these:
Pest-Stop mouse traps

They are idiot proof to set and over 4 months of using them we have never had a misfire. Every trap sprung = a mouse dead. Nice clean kills.

Baited with a dollop of peanut butter. When the trap is sprung the bait become inaccessible, so one load of peanut butter lasts literally months. When we first set these we have a plague of mice. In one evening I killed 7 between three traps. After a month or so of consistent use their number are right down, to about one every two weeks. We have been very happy.
 
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bait old fashion mouse traps with peanut butter and set them up with barriers so the trap can only be approached straight on so the bail will crush them in the trap. I had the same problem and by creating barriers around the trap and creating a chute for them to approach it straight on I caught as many as three in one night. every time I heard it snap I emptied it and rebated and reset. but now I've got spot and Sylvester the puddy tats and no longer have any mice.
 
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@ Ryan - Do you *really* mean "hairy tail"? Any chance you can get a picture?

The reason I ask is that we had something digging tunnels under our goose overnight shelter, which doubles as a nesting area for our ducks. They did not get caught in rat traps and seemed to be after the worms, not the chicken feed. I used hardware cloth to exclude them, not because I thought they were doing that much harm, but because I was sure that rats would start using their tunnels.

Point is, if there's any chance these aren't mice, but something else, that may be part of the problem. Mice tend to leave "deposits" where they feed and that may also give some hints as to the species.
 
thomas rubino
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Jay makes a very good point.   Around here a hairy tail usually is a wood rat (also known as a pack rat)  Much bigger, still able to squeeze under things like doors. Will never get caught by a mouse trap.
If that is what you have you need to step up your traps!  One tip , a rat can drag off a trap.... drill it and screw it down, preferably where they need to stretch out to reach it.
 
bruce Fine
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if you have rats a pet bobcat will get it for sure if it can't get caught in a rat trap.
 
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One of the best easy set mouse traps I use is the Intruder brand  "The Better Mousetrap" (this is an affiliate link where I'd earn a small commission for qualifying sales)  
I have another easy set trap that I bought at one of those big box home improvement stores over a decade ago.  It is always set and has never once in all these years caught or even been triggered by a mouse.  Something about it causes my mice to avoid it like the plague.  For the past several years I've had it set literally side by side with one of The Better Mousetrap type and I will still only catch the mice in the Better brand one.  I will say the Better Mousetrap ones don't always catch them when triggered, but I have a pretty high catch rate.  After enough years the spring involved can start to get a bit weaker too it seems.  I just bought a new 6 pack of them and reading the literature included they noted you can reposition the spring so it's springing on a fresh spot.  I need to try that.

The one thing I haven't seen anyone directly mention here yet is the importance of mousetrap placement.  I rarely even bait my traps anymore as I'm not looking to attract them.  I just place them along places I know the mice will travel.  Mice don't like going out into open areas.  This isn't to say they won't ever do this, but their strong preference is to run along walls, behind furniture, etc.  They want more protected places they can remain more hidden in.  Right now I  have most of my mouse entry points found and closed up with steel wool (I've been told they can't/won't chew through that), however there is a spot they come in either behind or under my furnace where I can't access without pulling the appliance out.  The way things are set up this leaves two channels to either side of the furnace that they will travel out to try and become free range mice in the house.  I have my traps placed there with the trap pinching side facing and placed right up to the wall.  The mice just run right into it over and over, snap and trap!  When I do get free range house mice I again will access the layout and try to think like a mouse seeking cover and protection.  Then I will place my traps in those pathways and I catch them quickly 90% of the time.
 
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Ryan, mice should not be getting inside, so first of all find out how they are getting inside.  

It's usually around plumbing pipes coming up through the floor, through tiny spaces.  Yes, they can squeeze like crazy, and they can chew through wood and plastic to make the opening bigger.  So check under all sinks, gas lines that come up through the floor, water lines like in a hot water heater closet, electrical lines that may be in pipes or even just going through a hole in the subfloor.  I've used the fine meshed hardware cloth, 8x8 or 10x10 sheet with one cut to the center and a hole cut out of the center the exact size of the pipe,  to fit around every pipe, glued onto the plywood subfloor or floor of the cupboard with silicon caulk, held down with duct tape until the silicon dries.  Hardware cloth is not window screen material.  It's hard metal that needs to be cut with metal cutting sheers.  

If they have managed to get in under corner molding on the exterior of a house or shed, feel underneath there for an opening, and fill it with black elastomeric roof sealant.  They can't chew through that.

I wish my foxes and bobcats would handle the mice, but they don't.  The mice get in under the house and have a field day.  There's even an owl that sits on a trellis at the end of the deck and waits for them, but it doesn't get enough of them, either.

So far the best mouse catcher is a live catcher, silver box Eaton Repeater mouse box.  I line the inside with a paper towel, put 1/2 tsp peanut butter on it, it can catch upwards of 20, if that's what's going on.  The most I caught in one night was 5, all babies that probably heard each other and were lured into it.  Then I take it very far away and let them out, usually where I figure the hawks will sit on the electrical wires by the road or big trees near an open meadow.  For the 8 months I've been using them we caught 45 mice over a 3 month period.  Since that time it's been rare.  

I put one box under the BBQ outside the back door, because if I leave it out in the open the foxes come along and pee on it and it corrodes the outside.  Inside the house there is always one as well.

I don't like to use bait because the wild animals, owls, hawks could catch a poisoned mouse and eat it, and die.  It takes sometimes 5 days for a mouse to die, and it will be quite active for at least the first day, and could be caught and eaten.

I have a black plastic Eaton box that is small, and haven't gotten a single mouse in that one, so something about the shiny silver ones work really well.

Be very careful to thoroughly clean a box, with gloves on, and a spray cleaner, because there will be a lot of poop in there you won't want to get on your fingers.  I suspect, too, that there is some kind of warning scent that they leave, whether it's in the pee or whatever, that warns other mice away.  So cleaning the box every single time is important.  

 
T.J. Stewart
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I'm not the OP, but David, upon your endorsement, I'm ordering The Better Mousetrap(s) from your affiliate link.  (Michael, I looked at the link that you provided, but I'm in The States, so I can't try that one).  I'll try to remember to come back here and report how it goes for us. :)
 
bruce Fine
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you by chance don't have a friend with a pet snake
 
David Huang
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T.J. Stewart wrote:I'm not the OP, but David, upon your endorsement, I'm ordering The Better Mousetrap(s) from your affiliate link.  (Michael, I looked at the link that you provided, but I'm in The States, so I can't try that one).  I'll try to remember to come back here and report how it goes for us. :)



I hope they work as well for you as they have for me over the years.  I've caught dozens and dozens and dozens with these.  They are so much easier to set too than the traditional type mousetrap.  The traditional type can work well if you get them set just right with a hair trigger so to speak.
 
pollinator
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We had bad mice last winter in the barn/garage. This is going to sound crazy but I made a snake habitat out of some scrap wood and put it in the corner and forgot I had done it. I went to get some scrap lumber for a project this winter and there were two ENORMOUS blacksnake skins in there. You might be able to convince one to live in your house, they are pretty docile. For barns (unless you have chickens and ever want an egg) they will really tear up the mice.

Another reason I have the coop on wheels, keep it separate from other areas... Haven't had one find it yet and steal eggs.
 
Michael Cox
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Adding my two cents.  Both have been mentioned above, but I will give them an "x2" as an endorsement that they work!

The first is the "log roll" idea over a 5 gallon bucket, like in the video.  If you are OK with the idea of mice drowning, this works.  It is especially good in a shed or room where you don't want to check traps daily.

The other is peanut butter on mousetraps.  I've tried everything under the sun, and peanut butter is the superior bait on a mousetrap.  The mice smell it, can't resist it, and it takes a little effort for them to get it all, which causes the trap to spring.  

If you have not mouse-proofed, a little steel wool goes a long way. Mouse proofing tips here.

Good luck!  Those mice are resilient!
 
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Those rolling log bucket traps seem to be the all around best for catching a large amount of rodents. But I've been using snap traps for years and it takes a lot of trying to find the right bait that will tempt a specific group of rodents, especially ones that are aware that the trap is a danger. For a while cheese crackers worked every day for me. Some mice love peanut butter, others ignore it, especially if it gets old and dry. Lately I got a bunch of frosting packets that I sure wasn't going to eat, and the mice love them. If you have something that isn't a mouse, like baby packrats, they learn faster and are too tough for mouse traps. I mainly catch rats with a catch-em-alive wire box trap. The trick to live traps is to wash them well between uses to get rid of the fear smell. I've had rats avoid a treat filled unwashed trap.
 
T.J. Stewart
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Our traps arrived today (gotta love Prime, even if you hate the machine lol).

My soon to be 16 year old son unboxed the traps. There were 6 of them.  They didn't look especially strong or effective, but they were here and we were going to try them out.  But first, my son had to do the "finger test".  Yes, that means that he wanted to see what it would feel like if the trap snapped his finger.  We all looked on in anticipation...well, actually, first I told him that I didn't think he should try it because it might really hurt, but his hands are pretty big (he's a farm boy after all) and he wanted to try it, so in the end, I said "go for it." lol

SNAP.  It looked like it didn't hurt AT ALL and my son confirmed through his laughter that it didn't.  Okay.  Hummmm.  Oh well, I thought, maybe they'll still work.  We didn't have anything to lose by trying them since we had already bought them.  I told the boys to set some and put them in place.  They must have decided on using peanut butter because as I left the room, I saw them spooning it out.  

Fast forward a couple hours later when everyone had retired to their rooms.  SNAP.... screechhhh screechhhhhh (ah ha!  We got one!)    10 minutes later:  SNAP....... screechhhhh   1 hour later:  SNAP....... Screechhhh  

I really can not believe it, but these things really work!  Thanks for the recommendation, David! :)  

BTW, another thing that we like about them is that they are reusable and super simple to set.  
 
David Huang
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T.J. Stewart wrote:Our traps arrived today (gotta love Prime, even if you hate the machine lol).

My soon to be 16 year old son unboxed the traps. There were 6 of them.  They didn't look especially strong or effective, but they were here and we were going to try them out.  But first, my son had to do the "finger test".  Yes, that means that he wanted to see what it would feel like if the trap snapped his finger.  We all looked on in anticipation...well, actually, first I told him that I didn't think he should try it because it might really hurt, but his hands are pretty big (he's a farm boy after all) and he wanted to try it, so in the end, I said "go for it." lol

SNAP.  It looked like it didn't hurt AT ALL and my son confirmed through his laughter that it didn't.  Okay.  Hummmm.  Oh well, I thought, maybe they'll still work.  We didn't have anything to lose by trying them since we had already bought them.  I told the boys to set some and put them in place.  They must have decided on using peanut butter because as I left the room, I saw them spooning it out.  

Fast forward a couple hours later when everyone had retired to their rooms.  SNAP.... screechhhh screechhhhhh (ah ha!  We got one!)    10 minutes later:  SNAP....... screechhhhh   1 hour later:  SNAP....... Screechhhh  

I really can not believe it, but these things really work!  Thanks for the recommendation, David! :)  

BTW, another thing that we like about them is that they are reusable and super simple to set.  



So glad you got and like them!  Thanks for the report back too.  When I first got one I too thought these don't seem very strong, and I suppose compared to traditional types the spring really isn't as strong.  However, I've found they really work!  The added bonus of them not being as strong is that they are safer for kids and pets as your son found out.  :)  
 
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thomas rubino wrote:
Plain cheap dryer sheets placed where the mice go , supposedly will drive them off quickly!   The down side of course... is the smell... drive me off quickly as well.
Give it a try if you can and let us know.



It doesn't work at all, but the mice make really nice soft nests from them.
 
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Cats are not good because they kill little birds. But you can build a house for a barn owl!

Here is a pic of a mouse which I caught and released last year. In fact she didn't want to leave, because there were so many treats in the trap :))
mouse.jpg
[Thumbnail for mouse.jpg]
 
thomas rubino
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That's the sad part of outdoor cats. They are hard on the bird population.
We had to stop putting out hummingbird feeders, the cats would just sit underneath ... pop up and boom, super tasty sugary treat. We removed the feeders as soon as we noticed.
The flip side if you live rural.  Coyotes, wolves ,  birds of prey ,cougars all prey on kitty cats.
 
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The most effective way & long-term way to get rid of mice is deny them a food source.   Become anal-retentive clean in the kitchen.   Even grease on a stove top is their version of a feast.  Every food source should be in mouse proof containers.   Your garbage can should also be mouse proof.   I would suggest switching to a 5-gallon bucket with a Gamma Lid for all food scraps and wash all food containers you dispose of in an open garbage container.   Mice need food to survive and will move on to other hunting grounds if your home does not provide them a food source.

To find out how they are getting into your house, lightly dust along all the walls with talcum powder or similar powder.   Look for their trail.   Once you locate their entrance point, shove some poison into the hole, then steel wool, then permanently patch the hole.   Winter is actually a great time to find the holes in your home because a lit candle will reveal even the smallest crack or hole.  Filling these holes will also help keep your heat inside.

Mice who do not go after bait already have a food source.   Until you deny them their preferred food they will not go seeking after another source of food.   Mice are creatures of habit.   They use the same trails and same food sources.

Mice are filthy.   They poop and psss on your food and on your dishes, glasses, etc.   If you are not doing so already, place your dishes, etc. with the surface you eat of off facing down.   Glasses, dishes, pots, pans, etc. should be stored upside down or have a lid on.   This way you never eat off a surface that a mouse has fouled up.   This is required in restaurants or the Health Inspector writes you up.   I even have my wife doing this in our home.

Mice starve to death in a few weeks, but they probably have been working hard in creating food stashes.   So it might take as much as a month or two to get rid of them using the "clean kitchen" solution.   A combination of setting out poison and a clean kitchen will get rid of them eventually.



 
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Seems like you have found a solution, but just for posterity...

Bucket, water, BOSS(Black Oil sunflower Seed), and a ramp.
That is what has worked best for me.
The rats or mice will come to the smell of the seeds, which are floating on the water, and they jump right in.
Evidently the rodents think the floating seeds are a solid surface.
I have found up to 5 drowned rodents at a time.
I dump the whole thing out onto the compost pile, and the chickens take it from there.

For closing up holes, steel wool and aluminum flashing are my favorite materials.

 
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thomas rubino wrote:That's the sad part of outdoor cats. They are hard on the bird population.
...
Coyotes, wolves ,  birds of prey ,cougars all prey on kitty cats.



Our outdoor cat population holds pretty steady due to the bigger neighborhood predators.  But I see the cats with mice far more often than I see them with birds, so I'll keep the cats.  The only places I have a mouse problem is places that the cats cannot access.  Right now there is a population in the turkey house - i see them when I go in after dark to feed the turkeys.  I need to get some traps in there, because I'm feeding about 15 mice too.
 
Jay Angler
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Thomas Dean wrote:

Right now there is a population in the turkey house - i see them when I go in after dark to feed the turkeys.  I need to get some traps in there, because I'm feeding about 15 mice too.

Absolutely! A lesser known predator of rats are the mink family. When poultry feed isn't kept safe from rats/mice, there is a risk that mink will move in with disastrous results. I'm told that raccoon target rats also - don't know for sure if they target mice - but it's easier to fence a coon out than a mink. I want and need these predators around because they keep things in balance, but the trick is to keep them from deciding that domesticated animals are tasty because too often, once they decide they are, the predator becomes prey to humans.
 
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The link posted to Sean Woods channel with the rolling pipe seems to be the best thing....I've watched tons of his videos.....but I kind of remember him saying the most effective trap ever is a bucket with peanut oil in the bottom.  No chance that even a rat can jump back out after being coated in oil.  I could be wrong about that, though.

Here's his playlist of almost 400 tested traps.  Quite an amusing waste of time.  https://youtu.be/NQbgxyuTm9w?list=PLQv9MGcwQg4vvbdVw61mx-XMyhsq9EgmR

Jay mentions mink.  Joseph Carter's channel is all about his trained mink hunting rats along with his dogs.  He calls it minkinry.  Amazing work this man has done training mink, and again quite amusing.....If you're into that sort of thing.  https://youtu.be/SM4C3_nMN_g

Pretty sure the two professional critter "getters" are going to collaborate on something soon according to what I've heard them say.....  I can't wait to watch it.

 
Joshua Bertram
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I love simple.  
 
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i had an issue with mice and bought a trapmaster live catch
it worked well... for some of them
the babies and one adult were caught this way
then one of them learned how to get out and i would see half eaten peanut butter in the trap but no mouse

i saw another trap online and made one which was able to cath the remaining mice

its a two litre bottle with a skewer through the middle ish but such that the balance point tips the mouth upwards just barely

then you mount it in a box so that the mouth is just above the edge of the box
the bottle should teeter up and down just barely clearing the edge of the box
i used another skewer to get some peanut butter inside

mu first attempt failed because i used a cardboard box and the mouse simply ate a hole through the box to get out
the next night i taped a small sheet of metal over the hole they had made
after that it worked great
all the remaining mice were caught and released about a km away in a wild area

no more mice since
 
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Regarding using traps.  After a mouse is caught ... the smell of the "dead" animal will keep other mice away from the trap.  A fresh trap or some way of getting the "smell" off the used trap will help in catching more.
 
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We've got huge, rambling buildings about 130 years old. So, it's hard to keep mice out... add to that, generational living, with an aunt who believes a brown paper compost bag on the floor is "mouse proof" because the edges of it are a foot off the ground. I've showed her about ten videos of mice jumping or climbing far higher than that, but her mind is stubborn...

so, we had a lot of mice. And I have few phobias, but after having a couple much too close for comfort calls with the wee critters, I developed a raging one which makes me jump and cry as soon as I see one, dead or alive (the mice, not me. That would be weird.). So, I needed to get rid of the mice. Did the research. Put my hand over the screen whenever there was a picture of a mouse. Considered cognitive behavioral therapy to get over it. We got strong, plastic mouse traps from Switzerland, because the wire traps didn't kill the mice right away, and I hate listening to trapped opera mice sing till they die... it just seems unnecessarily cruel. Poison isn't an option, since it gets into the ecosystem and kills far more than just the mice. The traps would catch them, but if I was alone, I wouldn't have anyone to empty the traps (I promise, I am a really tough awesome person, in just about everything else than mice). Onwards.

Finally, I saw a pattern in that all the mice were coming out of a closet off a bedroom off the kitchen. Pulled out an old desk from the closet, and sure enough, right behind it were some holes they'd been coming in through. Cleared out the closet, mixed up some hempcrete (hemp shives, water and lime), and built a threshold about six inches high and three wide along the closet wall, and guess what?

We haven't seen a mouse inside since! They   h a t e     the lime in the hempcrete, and it's really tough for them to chew through, too. So, my suggestion is that if you're building something new, do it in hempcrete. I have tried steel wool around plumbing, but they just push it aside... so for me, hempcrete is the best answer, and adding it along the outside walls hasn't been a problem at all. It needs to be at least three inches thick in order to not crumble and fall down.

I am helping some friends build a chicken coop soon, and it will be made out of hempcrete. I'll let you know how it proceeds!
 
Ryan Hobbs
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I finally killed one. It's not the little brown ones I saw before. It's a big rat, that (if size were the only factor) might be someone's pet. Storebought traps did nothing. Homemade bucket trap saved the day.
 
Ryan Hobbs
pollinator
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Location: Scioto county, Ohio, USA - Zone 6b
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I have 4 more in the trap. They weren't there yesterday.
 
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Dang, Ryan. glad you're getting them. (i had a similar thing in my garden last year: something ate all the seeds out of my seedling trays, my dog kept chasing small brown mice in the garden, and things were being dug up. But the traps caught rats, big old rats, that were digging in the garden. As I worked through the garden in the following weeks I found one had been burrowing on a slope where dirt was washing out from teh side of a retaining wall)
 
An elephant? An actual elephant. Into the apartment. How is the floor still here. Hold this tiny ad:
A rocket mass heater heats your home with one tenth the wood of a conventional wood stove
http://woodheat.net
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