Rodent season is upon us. As temperatures drop, rats and mice are more likely to take refuge in your spa cabinet, pool filter or shed in search of warmth (and who can blame them?).But it isn’t just the weather which is leading to a rise in mouse infestations: It reported that rodent-related callouts increased 34 per cent last year. Here is how to keep the critters at bay:
- Look out for signs of rodent activity. Start where you are mostly likely to see evidence of mice in the form of droppings (they produce 80 a day). It’s more common to find droppings around a water source like in you spa cabinet is worth a look. You should also check cables for gnawing damage (wires and filter elements are the most likely victims) and the ammonia-like smell, which both rats and mice leave and which will be stronger in enclosed spaces.
- Do an external survey. “Just before the onset of winter, you should check your spa for any gaps in the cabinet, or anywhere that they could come in,” says Stephen Otto, Store Manager of Teddy Bear Pools & Spas. “Here in New England once the snow flies you can also check for tracks in fresh snow”.
- Plug any gaps. We’re not just talking about gaping holes here. A full-grown adult mouse only needs a just over half a centimeter gap in order to get into your spa cabinet. “A rat needs 1 cm.” Adding a critter screen on the bottom of your spa cabinet is a good idea.
- Get rid of the rodents yourself. There are a variety of traps and baits available which will kill mice and rats. If you are not keen on slaughtering animals in your own home, you can also purchase humane traps which catch, but don’t kill, mice. Once caught you will need to relocate the mouse, taking it at least a quarter of a mile from your home – and preferably not dumping it on someone else’s doorstep. Another humane alternative is an herbal repellent (like Bearguard 1) which just keeps rodents away with a natural herbal mix of mint, peppermint and cedar. Bearguard 1 does not is safe for kids, dogs or cats but they will affect pets such as hamsters or gerbils.
- Call in the professionals. DIY solutions are all very well if you spot the occasional mouse scurrying around, but if you have an infestation of mice or rats you will need professional help. A variety of ways of getting rid of rodents, including poisons and smart traps which can be used even if you have pets and children are available. Prices for these services vary depending on the size of your property and the extent of the problem. Most professionals offer free estimates.
We recently repaired a spa in which just over a thousand dollars worth of damage had been done, by one little family of mice. The mice tunneled through the spa insulation, chewed through wires and waterlines. You also have to remember that most Spa Service Departments will not do service until the spa has been exterminated.All that could have been avoided with a little preventative maintenance and an inexpensive herbal repellant.