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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Rodent-Proof Your Home as Cold Weather Approaches

LAS CRUCES -- As winter approaches, mice start looking for warm places to build their nests, often inside homes.

"Usually, you see an increase in rodent problems with the onset of cold weather," said Jon Boren, wildlife specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, there are three ways to keep rodents out of your home. This can protect people from hantavirus, Boren said.

The first step is to clean and seal up the home, he said. Trash and debris should be removed from inside and outside the house. Pile lumber away from the house on stands about 18 inches above the ground. Any food or feed should be stored in rodent-proof containers, such as steel trash cans.

Mice can enter a house through openings as small as a quarter-inch in diameter, Boren said. Holes this size and larger can be covered with cement, galvanized sheet metal, heavy gauge hardware cloth or steel wool. Holes where wires come into the house also should be checked.

"Be sure to cover all edges of doors and window sashes with sheet metal or hardware cloth to prevent gnawing and entry of small rodents," Boren said.

The next step is to trap mice already indoors. Boren recommends small wooden snap traps available at most hardware stores.

Traps should be placed close to walls, in dark places or behind objects, where mice usually are seen, Boren said. A peanut butter and oatmeal mix makes a good bait, as well as cheese, bacon and chocolate candy.

Boren also recommends setting traps on a newspaper sprinkled with flea powder.

Once a mouse is caught, the third step is to disinfect the area, he said. Wear rubber gloves when spraying the mouse traps with a disinfectant made with one and a half cups of bleach in a gallon of water. Then roll up the trap inside the piece of newspaper, double-bag and place it in the garbage.