Help With Wild Mice
All About Mice is primarily a site for pet mice but people often ask for advice on wild mice. The two most common issues are what to do with an injured mouse and what to do about unwanted visitors in the home. Many thanks to Sarah Argrave for the following article.
Injured wild mice
The most common problem by far will be mice caught by a cat. Traditionally most mice caught by a cat will die but this needn’t be the case. With prompt and correct action the mouse has a good chance of survival. The most important thing to know is that there are bacteria on a cats teeth which, when they get into the mouse’s bloodstream via a bite, can cause fatal septicaemia. It is absolutely vital that the mouse gets treatment with antibiotics within a few hours of being caught by the cat. You may find a vet who is willing to treat the mouse but your best bet is to find a wildlife rescue as they will have more experience and will be able to take on any long-term care and any rehabilitation the mouse needs as well. If you are in the UK you can find a list of wildlife rescues at www.helpwildlife.co.uk However, be sure to check before you hand the mouse to any other party that they will treat the mouse and it will not just be put to sleep unnecessarily.
Any injured or sickly mouse is likely to be in shock. Until such time as you can obtain professional care for the mouse it is important to keep it warm and away from stress factors. House the mouse in something secure – a cardboard box will not hold the mouse if he’s alert or when he starts feeling better. A carrier designed for pet mice or a secure household container (with suitable air holes added) is good. The airing cupboard is an ideal place to put the mouse temporarily. Normal room temperature will not be enough so if you don’t have an airing cupboard, place a hot water bottle underneath half of the container so that the mouse can move away from the heat source if desired. You can offer the mouse water in a shallow dish such as a jam jar lid and sprinkle in some food such as birdseed, cereal and biscuit or fresh food such as apple and carrot. Avoid handling the mouse as much as possible as doing so will cause it stress. A mouse bite is also a lot more painful than you might think!
If you find a baby mouse with its eyes open then it should be able to feed itself on solids and you can treat it as above. A baby with its eyes closed however will still be nursing exclusively. You should try if at all possible to find a wildlife rescue to care for the baby as raising such a small animal is extremely difficult and a baby raised alone is unlikely to be suitable for release back into the wild. However, if this is not possible then the baby should be kept very warm (approx 30 degrees Celsius) and fed every two-three hours including through the night. The baby can be fed on either a powdered puppy or kitten formula (such as esbilac or lactol, which can be purchased from a vets or pet shop) or with soya milk. The “milk” should be heated before feeding. Use a 1ml syringe and very slowly – literally drop by drop – let the milk drip on to baby’s lips. Allow baby to swallow each drop before giving another. You must feed slowly and carefully or the baby could drown. Never feed cows milk – this is too rich in lactose and may cause diarrhoea which could be fatal. After each feed you will need to stimulate the baby’s genitals with a damp cotton bud to make it toilet. Failing to do so will lead to a fatal build up of waste products.
Unwanted mousey visitors
The traditional approach to unwanted rodents is to lay poison. This is becoming increasingly unacceptable to animal lovers so more people are opting to remove mice by humane trap instead. Both methods are equally ineffective and trapping is, in fact, little kinder than lethal methods.
Mice are attracted to your house or garden for two reasons. Firstly somewhere to shelter and secondly a good food source. Mice need both of these things in order to breed. If they have these things they will be breeding so if you remove an individual mouse, whether lethally or using a trap, the remaining mice will simply continue to breed and replace the lost individuals. Even if you were able to trap or kill all of the mice present, the food and shelter are still there and it’s only a matter of time before more mice cotton on to this fact! A mouse removed by trap and released elsewhere will be arriving in the territory of other mice and is likely to be attacked by them. He will have no knowledge of the area and where to find shelter and get food. He is most likely to face a cold, hungry death every bit as unpleasant as the poisoned mouse.
So what is the best way to remove mice from your property? It’s actually very simple. You need to remove those two critical things – the food and the shelter. Common sources of food are spilt bird food, spilt animal feed or unprotected human food. If you feed the birds you’ll probably need to stop if you don’t want to attract other wildlife too. If you have pets in your garden, be sure to tidy up any spilt food and ensure that mice can’t get into their cages to help themselves! If the mice are in your house, make sure all your dried food is protected in plastic containers.
Shelter in your garden is likely to be overgrown areas, log piles or stored animal bedding such as hay or straw. Tidy up any overgrown areas and ensure any bedding is protected or stored off of the ground. In your house the mice are likely to be in your kitchen, behind the kick boards being a particularly popular place. You may need to remove the kick boards to open the area up and make it unattractive to them. You can also try to find where the mice get in and seal this up. Mice can get through any hole which you can poke a pencil into basically. Gaps where the pipes go through the walls or broken air bricks are favourite access points. These can be sealed with expanding foam or mousemesh for example.
If the mice are further into the house then the use of sonic devices can be effective in deterring them. The key is to make the area as unattractive to the mice as possible. They like their homes to be quiet, dark, secluded and away from predators so opening the area up, turning lights on and making noise (leaving a radio on is good) all make the area less attractive as does introducing the smell of predators by putting down used cat litter for example. - Article by Sarah Argrave of Starlight Trust Rescue.