Mice in the Cabin

18 September 2011 In The Cottage

Getting rid of mice in the cottage can be a stressful event. Keeping mice from entering the cabin, lake house or chalet in the first place is another battle altogether.

How to keep mice out of the cabin or cottage during the winter

Once we close the cottage for the winter we like to think it is going to stay unoccupied until the spring. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Mice always seem to find a way to make the cottage their winter home.

The first step in the fight against mice at the cottage is acceptance. Unless you hire a cat to stand guard on mouse patrol 24/7, mice are going to get into the cottage. That said, it’s best to do what we can to keep mice out. Aside from the fear factor, mouse poop can cause health issues, including Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.

Now for the good news! We can keep the rodent problem under control.

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Use steel wool or copper mesh

Crawl under the cottage and use steel wool to seal all entry points the width of your baby finger or larger, especially near the support posts where they meet the cottage floor. Use copper mesh for larger openings. A roll of copper mesh is also useful for keeping out bats.

Spread mothballs around the cottage supports to deter mice

When you close the cottage for the winter, spread mothballs liberally around the exterior support posts and underneath the cabin to keep mice out during the cold months. Place mothballs in nylon stockings and hang them anywhere else you think the mice might consider entering the cabin.

Should you use mouse bait?

The use of poison baits is generally not recommended form mice in a cabin. There is no guarantee the rodents will actually eat the poison during the winter.

In the event you decide to go this route, place mouse bait around the inside of the cottage when you close up for the season. If the mice get into the cabin they will take the poison back to their nests or to their food stash. This assumes the mice are nesting outside.

When mice decide to live inside the cabin you may find the poison hidden away in various places around the cottage in the spring. Shoes are one of the favourite storage spots.

Sometimes a mother mouse will nest in the insulation in the walls and ceiling. If you suspect this is the case, using poison baits might not be a good idea. Dead mice tend to smell bad as they decompose, although some of the poison manufacturers claim that their products somehow prevent the foul odours.

Kid Safety: Never use poison baits to get rid of the mice if young kids visit the cottage.

How to keep mice out of the furniture

Seeing mouse poop on the cabin floor is frustrating, but finding it on the beds and in the cottage dressers is just too much for some cottagers to handle. This is especially true for renters and guests.

Place strips of fabric softener on mattresses, pillows, or blankets and then cover them with thick plastic sheets when closing the cabin for the winter. Set strips of fabric softener in the drawers of all dressers. Apparently the mice dislike the smell.

Tips to get rid of mice during the summer

During the cottage season the mice can be very active at the cottage. They are often heard at night as they run up and down the walls or in the ceiling. Sometimes we even hear the critters gnawing away at a floor board.

If mice nest in the cottage, it isn’t long before the cottage becomes the playground for all the young ones. It’s amazing how quickly we can get accustomed to living with mine, but guests tend to be less accepting of these little cottage companions.

How to set mouse traps

Traditional wooden snap-traps baited with peanut butter do an efficient job of catching and killing mice that are in the cottage. You just have to get used to the SNAP! and a bit of thrashing around when one of the little rodents gets caught in the middle of the night.

The old-style traps can also be messy. Be sure to check the traps daily.

Do not leave traps set and baited while you are away from the cabin or cottage. A dead mouse begins to decompose quickly and will fill the cabin with an awful stench that is difficult to remove.

Dozens of new systems exist for catching or deterring mice. Try a few and see what works best in your particular cabin situation. Here are two of the more popular choices.

If you don’t like the idea of killing mice, you can use an ultrasonic device to drive them crazy. Some models apparently work for bugs too!

During the summer you can also place traps under the cabin at the base of the support posts. Only set the traps in the evening and be sure to remove them during the day so that chipmunks and small squirrels won’t get caught.

Read the Mouse Poop on My Plate story about our editor’s own entertaining battle with mice at his cabin.

Go to the Insects and Bugs page to get all the information you need about dealing with mosquitoes, ticks, and biting flies at the cottage.