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Building A Better Mouse Trap
by John Harmon
October 13, 2002

mouse-t.jpg (44995 bytes)With the snow marching steadily down the local mountains it's clear that it won't be long before everything in your yard will be buried under a winter blanket of white. Before that happens it's a good idea to gather up all of your hoses and tools while you can still find them. Over the long dark is a great time to sharpen cutting tools and putting new handles on those implements that need it.

Bring all your sprinklers indoors and make sure they are dry before storing them away for the winter out in an unheated shed. Water in sprinkler heads can freeze up and split the metal or plastic and destroy them. Take the same precautions with pumps of all kinds and drain your hoses. It doesn't matter what kind of hoses you have (rubber/plastic) the UV rays of the sun will damage them over time. Storing them where the sun can't reach them will prolong their useful life especially with our long winters.

If you have a small greenhouse or cold frame covered with plastic film you can protect it from the few hours of sunshine we get in the winter by covering them with a tarp. The tarp's protection will add years to the life of your greenhouse film and protect the cover from abrasion from ice. Even late in the season the sun can damage the film. In September around Whitehorse we got 173.9 hours of bright sunshine compared with our normal average hours for the month of 137.8. Every hour of protection from the UV rays is worth the effort.

The time is also getting short for you to get out and do those last minute chores in the garden and yard like pruning this years producing raspberry canes back and laying down some mulch around those plants that need a little extra help over the winter. Keep in mind the tip about leaving pruned branches on the ground over the winter in the hope that the mice and voles under the snow will eat them and not your bushes.

This year the mouse and vole population seems to be at a high. The mice are moving in everywhere they can and you can count on them to eat or chew just about anything over the winter. If you don't want to use poison to get rid of them and your cat just can't keep up with the numbers you can make a water trap.

They are very simple to make and they work! All it takes is an old five-gallon plastic bucket, a wire coat hanger and a can of tomato paste. Use the tomato paste in your spaghetti but save the empty can. Cut both ends out of the can and place it in the middle of the wire after you straighten it out. Then make some 90-degree bends in the wire so the can cannot slide either way on the wire but will still be able to turn freely. Secure the wire to each side of the top of the bucket so the can is suspended in the middle. Put about six inches of water in the bottom of the bucket and then smear the can evenly with peanut butter.

Put the completed and baited trap out in the shed or basement where mice can be found. You can place it next to a shelf that is about the right height for mice to reach the lip of the bucket. Some folks use a piece of wood to make a ramp up to the bucket edge. The mice can't resist the peanut butter and will leap from the edge of the bucket to the can. Some are very good at balancing on the can while they eat but most will spin around upside down, drop into the water below and drown. Even the mice that are able to balance the can expertly while they eat are sure to be joined by another less talented mouse sooner or later and both end up in the water. Dispose of the water and dead mice often. I've seen these traps catch so many mice over night that the late arriving mice were able to jump out of the bucket using the footing gained standing on their less fortunate peers who drowned earlier.

If you really hate mice you can drop by the location where your trap is every now and again and shout "how long can you tread water!" Happy hunting!

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