Column: Got a mouse in the house? You're not alone

Article originally sourced from Chicago Tribune

"Twas the week after Christmas, and all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, except for a mouse.

The children were nestled all snug in their heads,

While visions of sugar cookies danced in their heads,

And mama in her 'kerchief and pops in his cap,

Had just settled in for a long winter's nap.

When out in the kitchen there arose such a clatter,

They sprang from their bed to see what was the matter.

Into the kitchen they flew with a flash,

Tore open the cabinet to check the cookie stash.

The light in the kitchen set the room all aglow,

And they could see what the noise was from the cabinet below

And what to the family's wondering eyes should appear,

A beady-eyed gray mouse with babies in there!

Mama picked up the phone and called the small game hunter Chris,

Not Kringle but Brennan and he told her this:

"This is always the busiest time of year for them. This year has been more than normal."

Perhaps you've had a rodent or two pop into your home already this winter or fall. It's frustrating to try and get them out and also, you may wonder if there's a gentle or humane way to get rid of pesky mice. Maybe you've caught them, now what do you do?

You have to send them to the great mouse house in the sky, rodent heaven, if you truly want to get mice out of your house, said Chris Brennan, owner of the Oak Park-based Brennan's Pest Control. He uses a combo of traps and poison bait to rid homes of mice.

The frigid temps force mice in as they can't be outside in weather like we've been having for long or they'll go into hypothermia, said Brennan, who come April starts his 37th year in business. So catching a mouse and setting it back outside is not an option.

"They'd die within 10 minutes," he said. "It's cruel punishment to put them outside in these conditions."

Besides that, even in the summer, if you put a mouse outside, it leaves a sebum trail, which is rub marks where they've been, and a pheromone track of 2,000 micro droplets of urine a day.

"This is how mice families communicate with each other that it's this way to food and warmth," said Brennan. "That's why they come back every year, because there's a trail."

He said he tells anyone about to close on a house to make sure the previous owner empties every space and doesn't leave junk in the attic, or crawl spaces, etc. And more importantly, anyone buying bait should keep it out of reach of toddlers and pets.

"I tell them, 'If I can see it, it's potentially reachable,' " said Brennan. "If it's not hard to see, it shouldn't be there."

As far as keeping a mouse out to begin with, "if one finger can go through an opening, then a mouse can go through that opening," said Brennan. So be sure to plug up any open holes your home's foundation might have.

Mice don't have such hot eyesight, but their sense of smell is about 10 times better than ours, said Brennan.

"We are never going to get rid of mice," he said. "What we try to do is manage them in the house.""


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