Fall is the season where we all decide how we are going to hunker down for the winter season ahead. We are not alone in that venture, as there are birds and humans that head south for the season to get away from the harsh elements. There are also animals that go into hibernation to re-emerge when the spring season returns. Other birds and animals will remain here for the cold season and start to look for food sources that will cover them for the winter season ahead. Squirrels will gather nuts and bury them at the earliest convenience so they can dig them as needed once their food sources deplete. Birds find who has the feeders out to assist them in this season and if there are no feeders they look for wild seed in gardens, prairies and in the woods to sustain them. There are other critters such as mice that are more like us and prefer a warm place to be for the winters, so they try to head into our homes to survive through the winter. Of course, for people, they are not welcome guests.

I remember as I grew up as a teenager and living in the country. The garage was attached to the house and mice found their way into the garage and ultimately into the attic above. Since the garage was adjacent to the family room in back, often we would hear the scratching of the mice above the family room ceiling. These were not pleasant sounds to hear as it seemed like they were seconds away from falling through but that was never the case. Simple traps in the attic usually took care of the problem and once in a while one would find its way inside only to encounter the dog. If you live on a farm, in the country, along a river or wooded area, you may have been one of those people who have had a mouse experience at one time or another in the home. It is not uncommon, to say the least.

There are ways to prevent these visitors from entering the house and the best route is always prevention over trying to deal with an issue within the home. Seal the home and prevent the problem before you have to adjust to trapping and killing within the home.

Oftentimes if we have gardens adjacent to the home or thick shrubbery or grasses, these make for good hiding places where mice can peruse the area for ways to get in without being detected. By keeping at least two feet around the home open from vegetation will cut down on these missions. Inspecting the exterior of your home in the fall season is very important so you can seal any cracks, holes or openings within the foundation or siding where they might be able to enter the home. A mouse can get into an opening smaller than the size of a quarter.

Areas where pipes, wires and vents enter the home are also areas where openings may exist where mice can enter. Make sure these areas are sealed well with a filler over an applied metal mesh as mice have a way of chewing through some fillers and caulking if they really want to get in.

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Make sure all windows and doorways are sealed around the edges and never leave a door or window open without a screen barrier to keep critters from entering. Mice are typically nocturnal, so are mostly active at night when all others are sleeping. Never leave a garage door open overnight as this is the perfect time for them to enter into a warmer space that may have food or shelter from the elements.

Keep birdseed and pet food in sealed containers as these attract mice into an area and will sustain them for long periods of time. In the home, keep all food sources in sealed containers also as if there is no food available, they will not stick around.

There are many items to catch a mouse once in the house; there are poisons (but keep them away from children and pets), sticky traps and snap traps. In the outlet markets, there are numerous other items to catch these critters within the home. You will have to decide which works best for your situation.

Mice do not like certain scents either, so you can try the peppermint essential oils and spray the exterior of your home with them as this adversely affects their sense of smell. If mint is not to your liking, clove oil will work just as well. These can be used outside or inside your home and have no effect on humans or pets.

Prevention of a mouse infestation will go a long way. So make the right choices now to keep them at bay before they get inside. None of us like to deal with this fall nuisance, but sometimes it just goes with the territory and we figure out what works best for us. Let’s make winter a calm season and keep the wild critters where they belong, outdoors in nature.