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Questions of Mice & Men (and women too!)

Questions of Mice & Men (and women too!)

Some of you will have seen the question about a plague of mice which I sent to all members using the questions@ facility  - it appears we have an incredible amount of experience in our membership on this particular topic, read on to find out what I learnt plus some observations on how to use questions@.

Martin Silman

Firstly, whilst I do have a bit of a mouse issue in one house - it is not actually a plague, well not compared to the mouse plagues which periodically sweep Australia anyway. Having said that, according to National Geographic Australia "Aggregating around food sources during plagues, the density of mice can reach up to 3,000 mice per hectare" that equates to less than 3 mice per room (based on 1,100 habitable rooms per hectare which is the sort of density we have in Portsmouth according to the governments Land Use Change Statistics) so maybe we do have a plague!

Secondly, thank you to everyone who responded. Let me summarise the highlights below:

One members experience: "Me too - we have two houses that seem to have mice no matter what. They are student let houses and one has 5 young lady tenants who are a bit mouse phobic. The girls used to leave kitchen waste in a black bin bag lying on the floor  which of course attracts the mice, I was in the middle of remonstrating with the girls about this when a mouse appeared from behind the toaster, did a couple of jumps across the work top - straight into the bin bag I was holding - the girls almost gave me a round of applause. This is not a recommended remedy but I hope it made you chuckle." 


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This reminds me of the Italian lady student who called me last year to come and get rid of a mouse that was trapped and flying around in the conservatory….  I don"t think I ever convinced her that mice don"t fly or that we have moths in this country that look quite furry.  Perhaps I should have just said it was a baby vampire bat…

Anyway, another member responded: "We had to use different types of bait as they become immune to the same one if you use it repeatedly, look for any access points and use wire wool to block. There are humane traps but not all the effective, failing that supply a cat!"

This last remark is interesting and I had a similar suggestion from 3 other members too. I do know that as a student let, it would be much easier to let if it came with a resident cat - but what are the legalities around caring for a borrowed cat, what if they don"t feed it or want to take it with them even before you consider the ethics of supplying a cat plus the fact that the poor cat will have to train new owners every year…

One wag even sent me the photo on the right.Tom

I have always said that if I were ever to appear on Mastermind, then my specialist subject would be the works of Tom and Jerry, having spent many hours of my youth studying them.

What I can say, after detailed research on this particular subject, is that Tom was not very effective as a mouse catcher, so of all of the suggestions received, I am afraid this is probably the least helpful.

Like all of us, I am normally very pleased to get free advice from a solicitor, and whilst member and solicitor John Saulet can normally be relied upon for very useful input, I am not sure his comment, "I have heard that there is a man in Hamelin Germany, who is quite good at that sort of thing?" appreciates the significant difference between Rattus Norvegicus and Mus musculus  (though both are rodents along with squirrels, prairie dogs, chipmunks, porcupines, beavers, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and capybaras). Imagine instead of having a mouse problem, you had a nest of porcupines behind the fridge or beavers damaging the skirting! Best not to confuse the various species within the rodent family.

There were some interesting remedies which were new to me: "Martin have you tried the sticky glue mats - you place them on a mouse run and they get stuck on the glue - someone then has to dispose of them !"   Sounds ideal except I have visions of popping in daily to unstick the student tenants…

One member commented that they found peanut butter on traps to be effective. Someone else, quite constructively stated, "Prefer traps to poison. You can see the dead fellas then. Try pompey hardware on Fawcett rd for traps. I bait mine with jam, find it better than cheese……… I check daily when set, move if nothing happens."

Pompey Hardware was actually suggested by several members and also as a source for very good mouse poison (apparently you have to ask for the red stuff - am guessing that is not the aforementioned jam, wonder if they keep it under the counter… but to be fair to all, there were quite a few eradicators mentioned (or should that be demousifiers?) including:

  • "I had a similar problem and called in a chap called Paul Lilley"
  • "I use Trapper Pest Control"
  • "Use Albany Pest Control" 
  • "In the end I contacted Pegasus Pest Control."
  • "We get Contract Killers in. There is never just one mouse. "
  • " We use a local pest control guy - Neil Miles - he seems to solve all our mouse/rat issues."
  • "I was talking with Neil (Brunel Pest Control) as I am even having the pesky creatures in refurbed houses which in the past has been less of a problem "

And then of course, there is always the council.  One member said, "When we had one or two a few years ago they were a problem.  I got in the council but I don"t think they deal with mice anymore.  The guy who came pulled the kick boards forward covering the lower kitchen units and placed little pots of bait there.  He also said to get some steel wool and jam it in any visible holes where the mice get in. " However, another member said, "Told tenants it"s their problem to sort as per contract.  They don"t seem to be able to fix as the council says landlord must contact and pay.... they are cheaper But I use Contract Killers.....they come till it"s fixed. "

Whereas others are just resigned to it: "Can't suggest other than traps and poison. Over the years it has been a reoccurring problem with the property I have, no chance of clearing them for good unless you seal up foundation as I am sure they can go all the way along a street under the floors. On that, only other thing, seal any gaps in the floor and hope they do not bother chewing a new way in"

The concept of sealing any points of entry is a common theme, though not often as well executed as this: "my tenants have covered half the house skirting in aluminium foil. New one on me. Looks ridiculous but I am ignoring it and leaving it to Alwin to pick up on. They say "mice can"t/ don"t eat through it."  "

So hopefully - that is everything you could possibly need to know if you have a local mouse problem  (next month, rats and in April perhaps we should talk about Beavers…. ????)   Now, let talk about questions@

questionspicIn the 7 hours from when the question was posted to now, as I write this article, I have had 23 responses. So, if you have a question about your obligations as a landlord or need to get something done and don"t know where to start, do please send your question to questions@ and subject to content, it will be shared with the whole membership.

At our January committee meeting, we debated what can and cannot be sent to the membership in this way and we came up with the following:  If you want to buy something, whether property, product or service, you can use questions@ to ask for members opinions. However, if you want to sell something, it is OK to use questions@ to advertise a property but if you have something related to your business, such as a product or a service, we will ask that you do not use questions@ as a free advertising service to do so - that is not what it is intended for.  Hope that is simple and clear, do let me know if not.



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