The hot and sticky summer is behind us, the days are growing shorter, the leaves are changing colors, the evening air is crisp and the fall decorations have made their appearance.
Still on your agenda is carving the jack-o’-lanterns and lining the front of the house with chrysanthemums.
Maybe you’ve already started a fire in the woodstove to keep warm and cozy or maybe you are holding out for November. Whatever the case may be, it’s time to think about the less charming aspects of autumn—getting your home ready for colder weather.
“A warm and cozy home sounds delightful,” is what every field mouse within a short radius of your home is thinking.
How do I know this?
Well, a few nights ago while I was staring at the ceiling trying to fall asleep over the noise of my eight-months pregnant wife sawing logs, dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes way off in la la land, I thought I heard something. (It wasn’t my sanity slipping away, but something in the house).
A soft nudge and a flip of the sheets to temporarily calm the racket directly next to me, and I was certain of it. I could hear something in the wall and nearly at the ceiling—the quiet pitter-patter of a mouse.
I eventually dozed off, and woke up the next morning ready for war.
Actually, I’m a big softy and literally wouldn’t hurt a mouse, so I pulled out the iPhone and started to search for no-kill traps. Sure enough, the local Home Depot had them in stock so off I went. Armed with a dozen cans of spray foam and a no-kill trap, I was ready to rid our house of the new mouse.
I put a trap with some peanut butter in the attic, thinking it somehow climbed down the wall from there or was perhaps still in the ceiling between the attic floor joists.
Fast forward to that evening and my wife says, “Are you sure it was in the wall and not by the front door? I think I heard something over there.”
I walked down to our 130-year-old basement with a stacked fieldstone foundation and started to check our dry goods. Sure enough, a bag of almond flour was chewed through and seemingly devoured—picture a mouse igloo made of flour.
I retrieved the trap from the attic, loaded it with almond flour and, being the tech geek that I am, relocated our front porch camera to the basement to view the trap remotely.
That night after I climbed into bed, I opened the camera app on my phone to remotely view the trap and just as I did, the mouse appeared, the temptation of almond flour was just too much for the hungry mouse to handle and it was caught.
Now, you might think the story ends here, but sadly, it is actually just beginning. If the movie “Ratatouille” could devolve into the movie “Willard,” that is how my night went.
It started with a cute little hungry field mouse that mistook my home for his home and ended with me second-guessing myself and being a softy—why didn’t I also buy the entirety of Home Depot’s mouse bait?!
Yes, I drove the mousetrap containing the now well-fed mouse down the road and released it far enough away that it would not come back. I reset the trap “just in case” and got back in bed. I woke up in the middle of the night and decided to pull out my phone to remotely check the camera and to my surprise, the mouse had a friend who also fancied almond flour.
Down the road I went with mouse number two, delivered to the same intersection as its friend (hey, what happens after I set it free is none of my business).
Rinse and repeat, mouse number three was also reunited with them.
Now, to keep a long story short, I believe the original mouse may have been a sibling.
After mouse numbers four and five were caught around 3 a.m., I dropped them into a 5-gallon Home Depot bucket to deal with in the morning.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: It’s getting colder at night and field mice want to enjoy your warm and cozy home just as much as you do. And your almond flour.
It may be wise to inspect the exterior perimeter of your home. Are there any visible cracks or gaps that would be an easy entrance to your home? An adult mouse can squeeze through a hole as small as a dime.
I found a small hole between two of the foundation stones that I suspect was the point of entry.
A couple other things you may want to consider are inspecting your door and window seals to prevent drafts, have your furnace inspected and tuned, check the batteries in your smoke alarms and test your carbon monoxide detector.
A quick inspection and some preventative maintenance will help keep your home safe and comfortable this season.
The decorative “Welcome” porch signs are for friends and family, not an invitation for four-legged critters.
Adam Clugh is the Content Curator for Local.News, a tech geek, beer connoisseur and soon-to-be dad.