ASK THE HORT AGENT
Question Do mice actually move indoors during the Fall?
Answer The cold ones do. Mice can become a problem in the fall, when the colder weather drives them indoors. The term “field mouse“ applies to many species of rodents that live outside. If mice are living in your house yearround, then you probably have a family of house mice (Mus musculus). Unlike the rat or most other animals, the field mouse is rather intelligent. Researchers have proven that field mice will think out a strategy before doing something. They also have a very keen sense of smell.
In six months, one pair of mice can eat more than 4 lbs. of food, and deposit about 18,000 droppings. Mice contaminate about 10 times more food than they actually eat. For some reason, people don’t want to eat food that has been tasted by a mouse.
Mice can be found nearly everywhere. It is no wonder hair and sometimes droppings end up in all types of food, from canned beans to loaves of bread.
Field mice are scavengers. Most buildings are home to at least one mouse which quietly eats whatever it can. Field mice have the longest list of natural enemies of any known creature. These rodents are eaten by snakes, cats, dogs, hawks, owls, foxes, bears, and wolves. There is even one breed of rabbit (not in North Carolina) that eats field mice. This is another good reason for them to seek shelter in somebody's house.
Once mice get into your house, the clock starts ticking. In approximately 3 weeks, mice begin to reproduce. It is a lot harder to get rid of 10 mice than 2. Put food in plastic containers, especially pet and bird food. If you have a house cat, start cutting back on his food. A hungry cat will probably hunt harder than a fat cat (this theory is not scientifically proven).
Go ahead and purchase your mouse traps, baits and various poisons. The cool, fall nights will begin pushing the chilly, little mice toward your house. Be careful when using the poisons and baits. Follow the instructions and keep out of reach of children and pets. Control methods are the same for field mice, house mice or rats. For more info on rodent control visit http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/L384.htm If you do not have internet access, then call 910-893-7533 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The French have another mouse control option. During the Franco-Prussian War when Paris was under siege, brown rats and roof rats were eaten on a large scale. Observers likened their taste to both partridges (French version of chicken) and pork. According to the Larousse Gastronomique (World's Greatest Cookery Encyclopedia), rats are still eaten in some parts of France. I guess French fast food workers ask, “do you want snails with that rat.“
Gary L. Pierce
Horticulture Extension AgentHarnett County