Mice and squir­rels and voles ... oh my!

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You may eas­ily rec­og­nize that you’ve got a prob­lem — but it’s not al­ways sim­ple to de­ter­mine which an­i­mal has un­ex­pect­edly moved in. For many crea­tures, the clues are very sim­i­lar, so un­less you’re an ex­pert in iden­ti­fy­ing an­i­mals by their drop­pings, it’s dif­fi­cult to fig­ure out what it is un­less you’ve sighted one of them run­ning around.

You can’t al­ways tell what’s hap­pen­ing be­hind the dry­wall, but if you’re hear­ing scur­ry­ing or scratch­ing in your at­tic, or be­hind the walls, that’s a good in­di­ca­tion you’ve got squir­rels or mice. Squir­rels will gen­er­ally pre­fer to nest in the at­tic, rest­ing on top of your in­su­la­tion, con­dens­ing it, and low­er­ing its ef­fec­tive­ness. Mice, on the other hand, will chew through it, bur­row deep and make a nest. Ei­ther way, it’s go­ing to do some dam­age.

Cer­tain an­i­mals would pre­fer to stay out­side in your yard, but it’s pos­si­ble they could make it in­side as a re­luc­tant room­mate. Moles and voles pre­fer the deep, dark tun­nels they make in your gar­dens, but that doesn’t mean that can’t ac­ci­den­tally en­ter. And if they find their way in, you’d bet­ter be­lieve mice, rats, or squir­rels may not be far be­hind. They may look cute, but you can’t un­der­es­ti­mate the dam­age th­ese an­i­mals can do. As al­ready men­tioned, they can dam­age the in­su­la­tion, but also chew through ma­te­ri­als around your home (even metal). And if they chew through wires, you could be look­ing at in­creased risk of an elec­tri­cal fire. Not to men­tion, if they die be­hind the walls, or drop ex­cre­ment, you’re go­ing to have to deal with the odour and bac­te­ria.

There are a lot of traps you can op­er­ate your­self if you feel up to the task. There are a lot of traps on the mar­ket, but I al­ways use hu­mane traps. Bait them, and place them near where you sus­pect the crea­tures are nest­ing. Once trapped, make sure you’re al­ways han­dling any crit­ters wear­ing the proper pro­tec­tive gear to pre­vent the trans­fer of germs, and to pro­tect your­self from bites.

If you’re not com­fort­able set­ting traps and han­dling an­i­mals, call in a pest con­trol ex­pert to help you ex­pel the guests, and help you source any weak points they used to get in.

Evict­ing your un­wanted ten­ants And stay out

You can send the crea­tures pack­ing, but if you don’t pre­vent their re-en­try to your home, you’re go­ing to be deal­ing with un­wanted guests over and over again. An­i­mals can squeeze through some pretty small gaps, so it’s im­por­tant that you strengthen any po­ten­tial ac­cess points to keep them out.

Care­fully in­spect your home for holes in your win­dow and chim­ney flash­ing, gaps in caulk­ing, or foun­da­tion cracks. Your garage door can be a sur­pris­ing weak point for en­try — it’s typ­i­cally harder to seal than smaller doors, and if mice find their way into the garage, it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore they take over the rest of the house.

In­stall screens over chim­neys, pipes, and vents, to keep in­trud­ers en­ter­ing, and check the seal­ing around any pipes or ca­bles that go into the home, and make sure it’s been prop­erly caulked all the way around.

If you like to keep your win­dows open to let the air flow through the house, make sure your screens are in good shape. They can wear down over time, and a small tear may be all it takes to al­low ac­cess.

To keep squir­rels at bay, keep trees close to the home pruned back to pre­vent easy ac­cess to your roof.

Once your pest prob­lem is taken care of — make sure to give any af­fected ar­eas a good clean with dis­in­fec­tant (while wear­ing your gloves and mask, of course).

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