Preventing Pests: Mice, Bats and Raccoons
When most people think of pests, ants and roaches come to mind, and a simple deep clean on the kitchen can put them at bay. This is very true, but what about other pests? Bigger pests? Mice, bats and raccoons are some of the most common pests in and around people’s houses, and little plastic traps aren’t going to cut it for these guys.
Unfortunately, mice always seem to find a way, even if that means gnawing their way through a thin patch of drywall or a cupboard. Yes, mousetraps can get the job done, but have you ever forgotten about one of those things and accidentally rediscovered it with a painful reminder? The key to using these traps is to properly set them so you catch the mouse quickly, thus not letting the trap become forgotten. Here are a few tips for setting your mousetraps.
Don’t use too much “food” or bait. Mice will nibble at parts of it, and if there is too much bait, they’ll never reach the trigger. As they slowly eat at the bait, the food will become stale and ineffective. Remember to wear gloves or wash your hands before setting the trap. If you don’t, your human scent will stay on the bait. Once you set the traps, check them every few days and change out the food if you haven’t caught anything.
Fatty foods will work well and so do foods that have a strong scent. Peanut butter seems to be effective – so don’t be afraid to get creative with it. There also are alternative baits, which are man-made and poisonous. Even if the mouse avoids setting off the trap, the poison will eventually do the trick. If you have pets, be careful when using these baits, as they may make your pets very sick.
Trying Different Traps
There are many types of mousetraps (traditional spring, electric, glue traps, etc.) so it’s important to first figure out how you want to deal with the problem. Glue traps are thought, by some, to be the least humane yet the most effective to catch a mouse quickly. Look into each trap and contact an exterminator if you have any questions.
Bats are essentially mice with wings. They can get into the smallest nooks and crannies of your home. There is no real easy way to trap or repel bats, so the best way to deal with them is to be proactive and “bat-proof” certain areas of your home. The best place to start is your attic or roof.
When you find the entrance the bats are using, the best way to keep them out is with a screen, thus allowing for air to continue flowing. Plastic window screens cut into the shape of the hole will work, but to really be safe, wire or other metal fencing would be the best bet. Simply cut them into the shape of the hole and use a staple gun to secure it over the hole.
It’s almost impossible to completely “bat-proof” your home, so don’t stress over every little hole. Just make sure the glaring holes and vents are covered. Once you get those covered, wait and see if the smaller ones need sealing. Bats are relatively unnoticeable if there is a small number of them, so closing off any major holes will keep large numbers of bats out.
Another great way to get rid of bats is through a wire funnel. Though not always successful, this is the most humane way to get rid of bats. Simply roll some wire screen into a funnel and put the small side through the hole in your attic. This method will force the bats to crawl out on the wire, and it will make it very difficult for them to reenter.
The best time to seal a vent or hole is in the winter months (November through March). If your attic is not heated, bats will migrate for the winter, but if it is heated they may not leave, so take this into consideration. Also, if you’re sealing during the summer, be sure to do so after sunset when most bats are active, thus avoiding trapping bats in your home. Don’t be afraid to break out the flashlight and get up there!
Depending on where you live, raccoons may find their way into your crawlspace or under your patio. Unlike mice and other small animals, killing raccoons through poison or traps can lead to more problems, such as the animal dying in an area that is hard to reach, creating an entirely new, and eventually stinky, problem. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with these critters.
One of the best ways to deter raccoons is to have a pet that goes outdoors. Dogs shed hair constantly, which deters raccoons from coming into your yard. If you have a problem with raccoons in your garden, try collecting some of your dog’s hair and sprinkling it around the perimeter. As a side note, be careful sending pets out to chase off raccoons if one is spotted, as raccoons are typically not super skittish and may attack your pet.
If you don’t have a dog, scare devices such as motion sensitive sprinklers or lights may work to ward off raccoons. These work for other animals that may be getting into gardens as well, such as rabbits and deer.
You can also prevent a raccoon invasion by ridding your yard of temptations. If raccoons have been getting into the trash and you don’t want to pull the cans into the garage, simply strap a tight bungee cord over the lid or purchase a wildlife-proof garbage can, available at most hardware stores.
Get a live trap for the animal so you can catch it and humanely relocate it farther away from your home. Be sure to double-check your county’s regulations on whether you can trap animals and where you can move them. Also be aware that you may catch other animals, such as skunks, which can cause other obvious problems.
There is no shame in calling an exterminator to take care of an animal you just can’t seem to catch. But if you have any suggestions or tips of your own on catching household rodents, please feel free to comment below.