Having recently written about dealing with voles in a polytunnel I’m now moving a little closer to home – right above my head, in fact. For we also have mice, in the attic.
We can hear them playing football in the evenings. It’s hard to feel too bothered, but there are electric cables lying around on the rafters up there. It would certainly be a shame if one of the mice decided to see if the insulating cable coating was good to eat – or, even worse, carry it off as insulation for nests. The consequences could be dire. If you have mice in your attic, be warned: you risk fire and also electrocution. If a cable is laid bare across a copper water pipe, you could be in for a nasty shock the next time you want a cuppa. This is why water pipes connected to taps have an ‘earth’ cable attached, in case you’ve ever wondered.
What to do
Please don’t set mousetraps which kill. Even if you can’t stand mice, these don’t always kill cleanly, and people tend to set them and then forget about them for days or even weeks. This may mean a truly disgusting result to clear up. Instead, opt for a ‘live’ multi-catch trap that’s capable of housing up to 10 mice at a time – not that it’s ever likely to. Even in a severe infestation, it’s doubtful that very many mice will venture inside to see what all the frantic scrabbling is about.
Always handle traps as little as possible, and wear gardening gloves when doing so, if you can. That way you’ll leave less of your own scent behind, guaranteed to send mice the other way.
Mice eat lots of the same things we do, but oddly enough cheese – the traditional mouse bait – isn’t high on their list so don’t bother with it. You’re much more likely to attract them with a blob of peanut butter on a crust of bread, or, if you have a dog, a few chunks of kibble. Put a toilet roll in there as well, as being stuck in a cold metal box could quickly reduce a healthy mouse to a hypothermic fatality.
Check the traps daily
This is really important. If you’re bothering to trap mice alive, don’t spoil it by leaving them trapped for too long. Once caught, take them well away from the house before releasing them, as they know their way around your property and will soon be back in the attic if released too close to home.
What not to do
Never, ever, EVER open the trap inside the house. And yes, I learned the hard way.
I had climbed the ladder to the attic hatch and reached through to pick up the trap. There’s a window in the lid, and holes along the ends so you’d think it would be easy to see if there was anyone inside – but I wasn’t in a very well lit place. I turned towards the light and had another look. This time, I could see through the holes, and so I assumed the trap was empty. Mistake. I had some fresh bait with me, so I set the trap on the shelf in front of me and opened it…and guess who popped out.
There followed a merry chase involving taking everything off the shelf at which point Mickey leapt off the end and onto the top of the water tank, then down the back of it.
Finally, after about half an hour of mutual stress, I had the pleasure of seeing it hurl itself out of the open back door (another mistake!) and off into the blue. Well, grey. This is Wales, after all.
And of course, it’s probably back in the attic by now. Do you think I’ll get lucky, and catch it twice…?