I think it is inevitable that when you live in the country you are going to have mice. We are directly surrounded by hundreds of acres of wheat fields so I am sure there are more mice out there than I can guess. Hundreds? For sure. Thousands? Maybe… I just checked the “Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management” and they state that when food is plentiful you can get 15 mice per acre. That said we would have about 240 mice in the seed-rich Fall season. I know they are out there, I know we are really intruding on their natural habitat, but I don’t like them in my house.
Last night while Erron and I were sitting around the TV room we saw either one mouse run by 3 times, or 3 mice run by one by one. I hope it was just one making repeat visits. Because they are still doing fire renovations there are gaps in the baseboards by the radiator and this seems to be a good place for them/it to come and go. I have also seen one slip through the side door in a gap so small that I probably couldn’t fit a pencil through it. They are tenacious little bastards, I’ll give them that.
Dash is a great dog, and his mouse hunting skills are improving every day, but he can’t catch what he isn’t around to see, so I decided to throw a couple live traps into the living room here against the walls and also to drop a mouse block under 3 of the radiators. One by the front door, one in the kitchen and one in the TV room. They are a blue cube shaped “food” laced with a blood thinner and bittering agent. Apparently the mice don’t taste this certain bitter chemical but if the kids did manage to check it out they would not be able to eat enough because of the taste to do any damage. What the blood thinner does to mice is to prevent them from clotting when they get a little injury, like having to squeeze through a tight spot. They end up dying from an internal bleed, what a great way to go. I placed a few in the basement last year and sure enough we got about 6 or 7 dead ones in the next couple weeks. It really is just the Fall that they are troublesome as they are trying to stockpile for the winter. Once it is cold they aren’t sneaking in anymore.
In the house I haven’t seen much of any mouse damage to our food, most everything is in plastic bins or cans, so it is more of a nuisance than a “we need to get rid of them!” issue. If anything, I have had them rifle through my car more than disturb anything in the house. The live traps were actually purchased to get the ones that were sneaking into my car as any time I left a food wrapper, or even some food in the car I would find nibble marks in the morning. I used the catches I would get from the traps to train Dash to hunt and kill the mice. The first day I got 3 mice from the car. I let them out one by one and Dash was more startled than anything. He only got 1, but it was a good start. I tried to get him all excited and crazy by letting him sniff the trap and saying, “Get it Dash! Get it! Get the mouse!” Even the one he did get he didn’t really know what to do with it as he would grab it then let it go. Fast forward a few months and he has become a killing machine. One day I emptied the grain bag from the food bin in the pumphouse (a 50lb bag of grain for the pigs that sits in a garbage bin). There was a bit of spilled grain in the bottom and the next morning when I went to feed the pigs there were 6 mice at the bottom of the bin. The mice were climbing in to get the food but the sides were too slick and too high for them to get out. One by one I scooped up the mice and tossed them onto the grass for Dash to catch and kill, he got 5/6 of them. Since then I have left that bin exactly the way it was and have managed to get one or two mice every couple of days. One day I didn’t have the scoop so I just took the bin out and tipped it while getting Dash excited. He dove into the mostly tipped-over bin and grabbed it before the edge hit the ground. We keep the chicken food in a big metal garbage can and a few times we have forgotten to put the lid back on and I’ve found a mouse in it in the morning. The bin is big enough, and our Jack Russell Terrier is small enough, that I just drop him in and let him catch it right there. It is a bit satisfying to hear the crunch of dog-jaw on mouse-skull and then see him drop a twitching mouse to the ground.
So far Dash has managed to catch 3 mice in the house, one gopher in the yard, and probably 15 kills from trapped mice outside, plus one near miss in the kitchen. I saw a mouse scurry by in the kitchen under the radiator, I called Dash over and he did a sideways diving slide under the chair to try and bite the thing and just barely missed it. He is quite a good dog to have around and is keeping up his part of the bargain.
What bargain? Last September when we first noticed the mice we considered a farm cat (I’m allergic to cats) and last minute I thought maybe there were dogs bred to catch vermin. A little Googling and we came up with J.R.’s as vermin-catchers and we found a breeder on Kijiji an hour away selling puppies. A few hours later we were home with a little bundle of fur and hopes that one day he would guard us from the mouse army.
I almost forgot to mention, not only is Dash a working dog, but he has a lot of other things going for him. He is cute, he is good company when walking across the fields after dark, he does tricks, the kids adore him, he warns us when people come to the door, he has taught the kids responsibility for having a pet and he helps clean up some of the food the kids drop on the floor.
I like having a dog.