Mice, Rats, Shrews and Voles


M
Most of us want to live in or near greenery. I lived near rivers and lakes for nearly 19 years. Now the water runs down the middle of a V shaped property neighbored by forests.

Perhaps it isn’t chance that water is such a central theme in my life.

With water and green space come the ruralish woes of rodents and insects. An unsavory topic, I know.

My policy is live and let live—until the human domain I call mine is crossed. Granted, I do everything in my power to keep them from crossing the barrier invisible to them. Plug holes; remove and secure potential food sources; reduce availability of water; seal access to all buildings when possible.

A rodent can fit through any hole approximately the size of its skull. They’re designed for rapid expansion; they have to be since they’re a major food source for raptors, reptiles and even mammals. Sometimes each other. [I’ll leave out the controversy of human use for other purposes. I’m talking nature here.]

Avoid those glue traps. There isn’t a way to pry an exhausted rodent from the glue without damaging the rodent and risking disease yourself. I tried. I followed the directions to the letter. And if you set the vermin out still attached to the glue trap you’re sentencing them to either a long, slow death or being easy prey. Hope for the latter. Glue traps can also stick to other living beings—larger furry or feathered ones.

Live traps are a nice idea. Little success here as rodents tend to avoid the large contraptions and even the smaller ones. Removing them to a more remote location is ideal if you manage to capture one. Oh. And check your live traps daily, please. There isn’t much use in using them only to find desiccated, moldy remains a month later. Nothing humane in that.

Please do not use poison. It has far-reaching consequences to the entire food chain, possibly including your favorite canines and felines. Poisoned rodents usually live long enough to escape before they are consumed live or dead.

The choice left is rather blunt but quick: A trap that instantly crushes the spine at the base of the skull. Most people find this idea cruel. As you can see from the above, perhaps not.

There are new traps out. [Yes, they have created a better mouse trap! Ha.] They aren’t so frightening to arm and not so disgusting to empty as the traditional wood-and-metal snap trap. Still, please check often. If checked daily, the fresh kill might fuel a scavenger and complete the food chain in a more natural way. By no means the only brand; however, I find these last longest and are as efficient as the original mouse trap. These have a clamping action to allow removal of the dead mouse without actually touching it, eliminating the eww factor and leaving the morsel free of human scent. Keep a little painter’s brush to clear any fur that might cling to the trap.

Baiting. Try something that requires force. Cheese isn’t it because it dries out and is light; a mouse caught in a trap using light bait usually gets part way backed out of the trap before the kill. Not so efficient. I like to use gumdrops. Add a little water to the bottom of the candy and it sticks right to the bait cup. I rarely have to rebait a trap because the sugar is a constant attractant and the trap a consistent killer.

One last note: Please place the traps carefully as they also attract small birds who are caught but not killed immediately or sometimes not killed at all. That was a very sad lesson since the trap was under a porch, away from the dogs and, I thought, away from other curious creatures.
©2014 Sandra R. Davidson

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