Pet Food Invites Mice – Advice From the Pros
By Chris Williams on May 23, 2011.
Mr. Fido and Miss Kitty are happy, contented, slightly overweight pets. They’re fed twice a day and Miss Kitty always has her bowl of dry food in the corner of the kitchen. It gets topped off when the bottom of the bowl shows.
You might think you keep a spotless home but you may be overlooking a prime food source for mice – pet food. We’re not just talking about pet food for dogs and cats either, we are also talking about food for gerbils, hamsters, fish, bunnies, and especially bird seed. It doesn’t take much to feed a family of mice. Just a few kernels of Cat Crunchies overlooked on the floor.
It’s bedtime, lights are out, people and pets are sleeping. The mouse family living behind the kitchen stove is just waking up and they’re feeling hungry. They don’t have to go far to find a pet food smorgasbord, the same one that is thoughtfully left out for them every night. Mice seldom travel more than 30 feet from their nest to feed. But that can be 30 feet above (attic) and below (basement) as well. If plenty of food is nearby, a mouse often remains within a 10 foot radius of its nest.
Mice are nibblers, usually eating 20 or more times during their evening rounds, but eating very little at most stops. In any territory, there will be one or two favorite feeding sites…dark, protected, and with good food…where mice consistently eat more than usual. A strong “mousy” odor and piles of droppings around spilled food mark prime feeding sites.
Mice have a habit of caching or hiding food away to feed on later. The mouse family also discovered a bag of bird seed in the garage and they have been gradually adding seed to their food collection behind the stove. Mice will carry dry pet food or bird seed to their nest or deposit it in wall voids, attics, or inaccessible sites that only mice can get to like under kitchen cabinets. This becomes a further problem because this makes the stored food available to “pantry pests” like Indian meal moths, sawtoothed grain beetles, and dermestid beetles.
There are two main steps that you can take with your handling of pet food that will go a long way toward eliminating food for mice:
(1) Don’t leave pet food available to pets any longer than necessary, and definitely not overnight. Pick up any pet food not eaten before going to bed. Sweep up stray dry pet food kernels. It doesn’t take much to feed a mouse, about 1/10 ounce of dry food a day.
(2) Store pet food in mouse-proof containers, not in original bags or boxes. Keep dry pet food and bird seed in tightly sealed metal or glass containers or in a refrigerator. Clean up spillage immediately.