by Doris Donnerman
(last updated July 26, 2008)
Mighty Mouse, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Stuart Little, and the Three Blind Mice are all characters made famous through literature and animation. In the book and movie The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, mice are said to be the most intelligent life form in the universe, and commissioned the making of Earth. Famous mice are cute, sweet, wily, courageous, strong, and heroic. While authors of fables, fiction, and cartoons pattern their mice with human traits and characteristics, real mice are destructive rodents that carry disease and serve as host to myriad parasites. Damaging and eating crops, spreading disease, and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of structure damage and electrical fires annually, mice are one of the most proliferate and harmful pests in North America. In the western United States, mice have been linked to the deadly hantavirus—a fatal virus occurring when a human breathes the dust that has come in contact with mouse feces.
It is little wonder that people spend thousands of dollars each year to help rid their homes of mice and other harmful pests. Some obvious signs that you may have mice in your home are gnaw marks on wood, furniture legs, baseboards, and drywall; smudge marks along baseboards, left behind from the oily buildup in mice fur; mouse droppings; sounds of scratching and gnawing inside walls; and evidence of nesting.
If you have mice in your home, you've probably questioned how they got inside. As long as a mouse has an opening large enough to accommodate its head, it can flatten its body to squeeze through. And if two mice get in, you can expect more very quickly. The gestation period of mice is about three weeks, with a litter averaging eight babies. After giving birth, a female mouse is ready to breed again immediately, capable of producing sixty babies each year. Therefore, it behooves you to rid your home of mice as soon as you suspect that you have them. A very effective way to inhibit ingress and egress of mice into your home is by using steel wool. Follow these guidelines to stop mice with steel wool:
Since mice will eat the steel wool, it will cause internal bleeding, and the mice will die. If you'd rather simply keep the mice out of your home instead of killing them, use caulk in and around the steel wool after you fill the gaps, so that the mice cannot eat the steel wool. If mice do eat the steel wool, they may die within the walls of your home, and a decomposing body will smell badly.
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