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Boulder Winter Rodent Repellant Recommendations

a small rodent sitting inside of a black cup


It’s that time of year again. In Boulder, we have a confluence of factors which drive mice into our homes. While mice are cute rodents and serve many purposes, joining us as uninvited house guests is not a purpose that many of us are fond of. Party crashers and not friends with invitations are motivated by the plummeting temperatures of winter in the Rockies to move into the house. Cute or not, they are absolutely not welcome.

Underlying principles: Avoid poison, avoid torture. What is he talking about???

Many mouse repellent strategies present other problems which are perhaps worse than the mouse problem. Although it is quite hard for a problem to be worse than a mouse invasion.

We have to start somewhere, so “basic principles” seems perfect. We start with what to not do before getting to the list of what we should do. First, we live in a raptor-rich city. Eagles, bald and golden top the list, and the list of local mouse-eating raptors goes on. Avoid poison mouse-killing approaches. A mouse impregnated with poison may become poison in a raptor. After our stupendous successes in significantly bringing our bald eagle population back killing them with mouse poison is the opposite of what we are succeeding with. Snap traps, while not problem-free, leave a dead mouse; perfect raptor food. When we kill a mouse in a snap trap we throw the mouse onto the roof.

To be clear, while bald eagles make a great image and make the point, our local raptors include a long list of those who eat mice. By avoiding poison, we are helping to protect several species of raptors, which are known to prey on mice.  These birds of prey are an essential part of the local ecosystem and play a significant role in controlling rodent populations. Some of the raptors in this area that commonly feed on mice include:

  1. Red-tailed Hawk: This is one of the most common hawks in North America. Red-tailed Hawks are highly adaptable and can be seen in various habitats. They are known for hunting small mammals, including mice. TIP!!! If you see a raptor and cannot ID it, consider saying “immature red-tailed hawk.” You’ll be right much of the time in Boulder. a close up of a bird of prey
  2. American Kestrel: The American Kestrel, the smallest falcon in North America, often preys on mice. They are known for their remarkable hunting skills, catching their prey both in the air and on the ground.
  3. Barn Owl: Barn Owls are particularly efficient at controlling rodent populations, including mice. They have excellent night vision and silent flight, making them adept nocturnal hunters.time lapse photography of owl flying
  4. Great Horned Owl: This large owl is a versatile predator and can take down larger prey, but it also feeds on smaller mammals like mice. Great Horned Owls are known for their distinctive hooting call.
  5. Prairie Falcon: A resident of open habitats, the Prairie Falcon preys on small mammals including mice. They are fast and agile hunters, often catching their prey on the ground. selective-focus photograph of blue and brown bird

These raptors play a crucial role in the ecosystem by naturally managing rodent populations, including mice. Observing these majestic birds can be a rewarding experience for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers in the Boulder area. They are  ubiquitous in Boulder making it necessary to remind ourselves to pull the car over if we’re going to watch a soaring hawk. Watching the road and watching the raptor are not done simultaneously by anyone with a brain. Happily it is pretty well established that I have no brain.

Sticky traps work great. BUT they are unnecessarily cruel. They are great at catching mice, but then a live mouse is stuck to the trap until it dies. The snap trap is almost friendly by comparison. A better approach, and an approach to use in conjunction with indoor traps, include the following suggstions.

  1. Seal Entry Points: Mice can squeeze through tiny gaps, so it’s crucial to inspect your home’s exterior for any cracks, holes, or openings. Seal these with steel wool, caulk, or appropriate materials to prevent mice from entering. Pay special attention to areas where utility pipes enter the house.
  2. Remove Food Sources: Mice are attracted to food sources. Ensure that all food is stored in airtight containers and that crumbs and spills are cleaned up promptly. Don’t leave pet food out overnight.
  3. Keep Your Home Clean: Regular cleaning helps to eliminate crumbs and food residues that can attract mice. Pay special attention to kitchen areas, under appliances, and in corners.
  4. Use Natural Repellents: Certain smells, like peppermint oil, clove oil, or ammonia, are said to repel mice. Soak cotton balls in these oils and place them in areas where mice might enter your home.
  5. Set Traps: If mice are already in your home, consider setting traps. There are various types of traps available, from humane live-catch traps to traditional snap traps. Place them near walls, as mice tend to run along the edges of rooms.
  6. Maintain the Yard: Overgrown vegetation near your home can provide shelter for mice. Keep the grass cut short and bushes trimmed back from the house. Remove any piles of leaves, debris, or stored firewood that can serve as hiding places for mice.
  7. Inspect and Repair Vents: Make sure all vents are covered with fine mesh and that there are no gaps around them. This includes attic vents, chimney vents, and any other openings that lead outside.
  8. Store Trash Securely: Ensure your garbage cans have tight-fitting lids and are stored away from your home. Mice are attracted to garbage as a food source, so keeping it secure can help deter them.
  9. Eliminate Moisture Sites: Mice need water to survive, so fixing any leaking pipes and ensuring that areas around your home are dry can make your home less attractive to them. Pay attention to areas like basements, attics, and crawl spaces where moisture can accumulate.
  10. Use Ultrasonic Repellents: These devices emit a high-frequency sound that is unpleasant to mice but not detectable by humans. Placing these in key areas can help deter mice from entering your home.
  11. Keep Storage Areas Tidy: Mice like to nest in cluttered, undisturbed areas. Regularly cleaning and organizing storage areas like garages, basements, and attics can reduce nesting opportunities for mice.

Implementing these measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of mice seeking shelter in your home during the colder months. Additionally, these are all “regular house maintenance items” regardless of the anti-mouse impact. WARNING!!! Moving a pile of leaves? Moving a trash bag that has not been moved in way too long? Beware of surprise. The common garter snakes discovered by surprise can be startling. Uncovering a ball of them can be downright terrifying. Rattlesnakes are possible, but are more frequently seen sunning themselves. Gloves are a great idea!

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