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Here Comes the Cold Weather — and Mus Musculus

Opinion

For much of the country, as the temperatures drop, there is increased activity of mice to find a harborage area. For any food operation, or homeowner, for that matter, this means an increased potential of infestation if some proactive measures are not taken to eliminate entry. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Think like a mouse.

2. Any hole, gap or crack leading directly outside must be either sealed or flush with the floor. If you see sunlight, chances are that gap may be large enough for a mouse to squeeze through. Simply using some type of spray foam to plug a hole may work temporarily until the mice decide to chew through it, so put a metal scrub pad in the hole before it is sealed. I’ve seen mice tunnel through fireproof insulation three floors high, chew through wires, sheetrock, plaster and plywood, so they are resilient and can get to where they want to go.

3. Keep doors closed when not in use, especially in a warehouse next to a field, where even Bigfoot can walk right in.

4. Be careful of potential exterior harborage areas. Those hay bales — yes, they’re very fall-like and a nice-looking Halloween decoration — but they’re also a nice, warm and comfortable area for mice to inhabit. Bags of mulch and even vending machines are as well. Just keep that in mind the next time your dispensed scratch-off lottery ticket looks like it has been nibbled on the end. Those make perfect nesting material, and the grand prize you might win may have four legs.

5. Be mindful of any potential outdoor food source that can be an attraction, such as an unkept garbage area, seed, pet food and anything else that will attract rodents.

6. Make sure to thoroughly check any food and/or paper deliveries for evidence of infestation. Is one of your vendors possibly bringing you something more than you bargained for?

7. Finally, ask yourself: Just exactly what are those holes in the ground outside your back door?

Mice can be a big problem once they have gained access to your interior, not only for the spread of potential disease, product loss, damage to reputation, citations and/or fines from the health department, but also for the money you will spend in labor to clean up after them and for the pest-control company to get rid of them.

Keep in mind that, with a potential reproduction rate of five to 10 litters a year, times five to six babies each, an unchecked mouse population can grow fast. And it all starts with entry.

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