Most first-date conversations probably don't turn to discussions of mousetraps, but that's exactly what happened to me. Since the fall months are prime time for a rodent invasion, don't be surprised if you also find yourself pondering various mouse-eviction methods. Take it from me: Leave the glue traps, snap traps and poisons on the shelf. You can keep the peace and keep rodents out of your pantry with simple, humane mouse-proofing techniques.
When I first met my boyfriend, he was in hot pursuit of a mouse who was taste-testing her way through his kitchen cabinets. He was trying to catch her in a snap trap but wasn't having any luck. He even surmised that the mouse was so crafty that she was both avoiding the trap and actually mocking his efforts. (I maintain that she was too smart for that antiquated trap.) So there we were on date number one, talking about how the snap trap might maim but not kill the mouse (at least not instantly), could injure his dog and could make a big mess. Somewhere between the salad and the risotto, he agreed to give my humane live trap a try.
Soon after, we met for date number two so that we could implement Operation Mouse Catch. A few days, a few dates and a few dabs of peanut butter later, the resourceful mouse was in custody. We took her mug shot, then promptly released her in the yard.
Despite my boyfriend's doubts, the mouse's cabinet-raiding days seem to be over. (Our dates have become a little more normal as well.) That's because we didn't stop with the eviction - we also made his home uninviting to rodents. Just focusing on killing or even evicting a mouse or rat who comes inside won't work if your house is still appealing and accessible - another rodent will simply take the first one's place.
But you don't need to bring out the big guns to keep mice at bay. You just need to store food in chew-proof plastic containers, keep trash in cans with tight-fitting lids and seal off any possible entry points. Mice can squeeze through spaces as small as a dime, so check for cracks in walls, holes in foundations and gaps around doors, windows and vents, and then get out the steel wool and the caulking gun.
Many rodent traps are not only ineffective but also cruel. Animals caught in glue traps, for instance, may languish for days before finally dying of dehydration or even suffocation. During that time, as the panicked animals struggle to free themselves, the sticky glue rips patches of fur and skin from their bodies.
And like most "kill traps" and poisons, glue traps don't discriminate. PETA regularly receives calls from distraught people who have found birds, squirrels, snakes and even kittens hopelessly stuck in these traps. Earlier this year, a homeowner in Virginia learned the hard way that glue traps will snare any animal at any time. The man had set the trap at his home, and when he checked it 24 hours later, he found nine snakes caught on the sticky pan. Thankfully, using mineral oil, Goo Gone and a lot of care, staffers at a local wildlife center were able to free the snakes and release them back into the wild.
Once your house is rodent-proofed, use a humane live trap to catch any remaining mice or rats. Be sure and check it frequently, as rodents panic and suffer while inside traps. Escort them to a field or wooded area away from your home. Or if it's cold out, release them into a sheltered area such as a barn or a shed.
If mice and rats come calling this fall, why not show them some love? You never know where it may lead.
Michelle Kretzer is a blog writer for the PETA Foundation -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.