New Mexico's Pet Resource FALL 2005


MOUSE AND RAT HEALTH CONCERNS

MOUSE HEALTH CONCERNS

In New Mexico mice can be carriers of bubonic plague and the hantavirus. Mice are able to squeeze through a hole the size of a dime. Here are some solutions for mice problems:

1. Fill small holes, such as around drainpipes, using steel wool or quick drying cement.

2. For filling larger holes, use mesh hardware cloth.

3. Spread ground cayenne pepper around the holes that can’t be filled. Mice don’t like the smell of cayenne pepper. Or scatter small, hot, dried red chili peppers in effected places.

4. Store all food in mice/proof containers (plastic, glass, etc.) Regularly discard newspapers, garbage, etc. Wash tops of soda cans with a disinfectant before drinking if mouse signs are evident. Discard uneaten pet food at the end of the day. Keep a tidy home environment.

5. Feed only enough birdseed to last the day. Store birdseed and pet food in plastic containers with lids that can be tightly closed, preferably in a sturdy metal shed.

6. Keep sheds and garages clear of rubbish, etc. With hantavirus prevalent in the state, be careful when cleaning an area with dead mice or mouse droppings. The virus can become airborne. Be sure to air out the area at least one hour before; wear a facemask, rubber gloves, and use chlorine bleach or a disinfectant. Use a shovel when removing dead rodents.

7. Keep your woodpile away from your home. Woodpiles make good homes for rodents. Ideally, a woodpile should be located at least 100 feet from your home and should be elevated to reduce nesting sites for the mice.

8. Never pick up a dead animal with bare hands. Wear gloves and use a shovel to dispose of it. Fleas spread bubonic plague, and there are usually fleas on dead animals. The fleas can’t feed on a dead animal so they will jump on a living, warm-blooded animal (such as a human). Wash thoroughly after handling a dead animal!

9. Live trapping can be used, but unless you have found their source of entry into you home, the mice will return.

OTHER CONCERNS

Besides being carriers of hantavirus and bubonic plague, mice can also damage the vegetation in your yard. Here are some solutions to common problems:

1. If mice are chewing on your bulbs, build a mouse fence around your flower-beds. To do this place fine mesh netting starting below ground and extending 3 to 4 inches above ground completely around the bed.

2. To protect your young trees from mice, wrap heavy-duty aluminum foil around the tree’s trunk from ground level to 1 foot above ground.

3. In the winter, keep mulch 2 to 3 inches away from tree trunks so that the mice

won’t bed down for the winter around the trees.

RAT HEALTH CONCERNS

All wild rodents carry fleas. Therefore, there is a concern of bubonic plague. Here are some solutions to those concerns:

1. Follow solutions-directions for mice.

2. Close all holes with wire mesh. A large rat can gain access through a ½-inch hole.

3. Cut weeds and brush around foundations of houses or sheds.

4. For severe problems, install fine-mesh hardware cloth or pour concrete footings vertically a foot below ground level and then, at a 90-degree angle, another foot out from the foundation.

5. See instructions on handling dead animals in mouse section.

6. With hantavirus prevalent in the state, refer to Mouse Health Concerns section.

7. As a last resort, call Wildlife Rescue of New Mexico at 344-2500 or Wildlife Services at 346-2640 to find out how to have the rat humanely trapped and relocated.

OTHER CONCERNS

Just like mice, rats can also damage your plants. The suggestions in the Other Concerns section for mice can also be used to reduce the destruction done by rats.

Our thanks to Jan Hayes of Sandia Mountain BearWatch for permission to use the above information from “Guide for Wildlife Stewards; How to Coexist with our Wildlife”.


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