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How Can We Get Rid of Mice in Our Cabin?

By Chris Williams on February 9, 2016.

We live in Boston but have a cabin about three hours away that we like to visit when we can. The problem is mice. When we return to the cabin there is always mouse poop everywhere! We’ve left poison out when we leave the cabin but then when we return there is a horrible smell of dead mice. Do we have to put up with either the mice or the smell? I’m tired of spending the first day of my weekend cleaning up after the mice.

T. V., Boston, MA

It is tough to keep mice out of a cabin especially when it is unoccupied for periods of time. Mice need such small openings to enter that it’s probably impossible to find and seal all of the entry points in a cabin. At the very least, you should make sure that all doors have thresholds and weather sealing on the sides to eliminate any gaps. Check for spaces around pipes and utility lines where they enter the cabin. I’m assuming that you are already taking mouse prevention measures such as placing any foodstuffs in containers with tight-fitting lids.

Use Snap Traps to Eliminate Dead Mouse Odors

If you can’t keep the mice out of your cabin, you need to find the best way to dispatch them once they get in. As you’ve discovered, one disadvantage with rodenticides is that you have no control over where the mice are going to die after they eat the bait, and it’s often in an inaccessible void somewhere. You should give mouse snap traps a try (see Use Traps to Avoid Dead Mouse Odors). Look for traps with an expanded trigger. You would need to bait and set quite a few as you leave the cabin (see How to Place Snap Traps for Mice). You may still return to the odor of dead mice, but these will be held by the trap and easy to dispose of.

On the downside, each snap trap can only catch one mouse without resetting. If you really have a lot of mice, another option is to use a multi-catch mouse trap that has the advantage of continuing to catch and hold mice, up to 20 or more mice without resetting. By the way, don’t let the number of mouse droppings scare you into imagining a horde of mice. A single mouse will deposit about 60 droppings a day in many different places.

Experiment to Find a Method You Can Live With

You’ll have to tweak your mouse control efforts until you find a method that works best for your schedule. You might prefer not to institute any mouse control until you arrive at the cabin. Then you will be busy setting and emptying traps at the beginning of your stay, but there will be no dead mouse odors. Your mouse control plan may change with the seasons. The odor of decaying mice will be less in the cold weather of winter. Dead mice may dry up in the drier, cold air before they decompose so you might find that you can place mouse bait in winter without having an odor problem.

Whichever method you chose, you’ll have to accept the fact that you’re never going to get rid of all of the mice. The best you can do is come up with a plan to minimize the problem. Occasional mice are part of the tradeoff for having a nice cabin retreat! Have you considered getting a cat?!

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