The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-29-2011, 07:28 PM
Toaster Toaster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Mouse infestation in the car, possibly garage

So we thought we had a squirrel in our car. In the front seating area there were lots of shells of seeds that had been out for the birds. My parents tried just airing out the car by keeping it in the garage with the windows down.

I move in, and was told before any of this that the car would be mine to drive around, great. Then the infestation. The garage smelled of rotting and feces enough to make both myself and my fiancee feel like vomiting (parents are very old and one was a smoker for a long time, so they couldn't smell much). I told them it HAD to be interior-detailed to be workable for us, since I have a rodent allergy and it was just so bad that shampooing at minimum was necessary.

The body shop, after a few days, tells us it smells a little still so they'll keep it one more day in the sun and with deodorizer spray to make it fine. That evening they call us. Mice.

Mice everywhere.

Meanwhile at home we had caught 2 mice in a glue trap (in a hav-a-hart trap for larger mammals), but one escaped leaving a little bit of fur, since it was cold (SLC, Utah) and the glue presumably wasn't working as well.

Anyway, the body shop has taken apart the interior of the car: the dash, the ceiling, the floor, the seats. Our insurance would probably cover some/all of it, but the damage is already over $1000. THey've found 4 dead mice, 2 of which were babies. The garage has no VISIBLE evidence of mouse infestation such as droppings; all edible things are well-sealed away, but one mouse got away. The garage is enter-able by at least the rubber garage sealer, which has a hole in it.

I will presume the mice in the car will be completely evacuated/dead. But the garage may not be. We are putting more glue traps down, snap traps, and baiting with peanut butter the tiny hav-a-hart that mice shouldn't be able to get out of (holes smaller than their skulls). No cars are in the garage. But tons of junk like wreaths, toilet paper, and stuff for Goodwill (huge piles of this) hide possible evidence areas.

Utah is a hantavirus area, one specifically for the deadly strain. What options should we consider? I know hantavirus ceases to spread after a week, but how do we know when the mice are gone? Won't they come back when it finishes warming up? Who should we call, if anyone, to make sure the garage is entry-proof? Should we think about calling the car totalled due to the scary nature of hantavirus pulmonary strain, plus the extensive damage (wires gnawed, tons of nesting material and feces and such inside the ceiling and doors)?

Anyone with experience, help is appreciated. At least 2 members of the household here are prone to respiratory issues and are elderly, while I have allergies. I don't want anyone getting hantavirus of course (the body shop guys are wearing full masks and such). There are NO feral or roaming cats in our neighborhood, somehow, to aid in our battle, but adopting an adult cat (something we have considered separately as a pet anyway) and letting it loose in the garage occasionally to keep it clean might not be a bad idea?
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 04-29-2011, 09:12 PM
Patty O'Furniture Patty O'Furniture is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
I guess this is obvious, but have you considered getting a cat or dog? When we had a mouse problem in my building (an 8 unit condo), we all noticed that the units with pets never saw any signs of them. Only the units without pets had problems like droppings, cereal boxes chewed-into, etc. The exterminator told us that rats & mice could smell where the pets lived and avoided those areas.
__________________
Join Date: May 20, 1999
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Posts: 8,739
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-29-2011, 09:20 PM
Toaster Toaster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
I have an old chihuahua who lives indoors, potties outside. We have NO mouse problems in the house at all -- no smell, no droppings, no invaded food, no nesting material. These mice are tiny field mice I guess, but the chihuahua would be of no value since mice fear cat urine, not dog urine AFAIK.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 05-02-2011, 01:20 PM
Toaster Toaster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
We've grabbed another mouse with one of the snap traps yesterday. We should get more word from the automobile shop tomorrow. We'll be on the horn with Goodwill to see when they can come pick up the piles of stuff in the garage and therefore remove some possible nesting material in cardboard box form and a big fluffy papasan chair cushion. There is NOTHING edible out there but the bait and stuff in thick plastic sealed cans, and the fridge/freezer -- they're getting hit by traps without bait even. We still can find no chewing and no poop anywhere in the garage, but it's another warm day today and perhaps they will have woken out of torpor some more...

Anyone have any ideas on other things to try?

How long with traps out and baited do we need to wait before we might 'know' that the mice are gone? (We are NOT feeding the birds with seed/suet like usual right now.)

What is a sensible course of action regarding a Subaru Forester XL '04 that has had mice nests in the ceiling, floorboards, the bars around the edge of the doors, and directly in the seats and vents and stuff? There are just so many diseases and some of them I have read take a while to die even when not on a host...I have no idea what it would take in cleaning to clear out these viruses or fleas and therefore if the body shop is doing it. My mother feels it will be "gross" to even sit in the vehicle now, she's worried about my asthmatic dad ever being in it OR in the garage, although I suspect after cleaning and sitting out a bit the car shouldn't harbor active allergens for myself. It's all about the disease factors, really. How likely is the car to have disease in it considering there were at least a female that had just had babies, another mouse in it, and at least 2 mice in the garage one of which was a girl? What about re-infection of the car?
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 05-02-2011, 05:08 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 14,962
I had problems with mice in my flat last year. First of all YOU MUST find where they're getting in. If you can't they'll just invite more of their friends. I found only glue traps worked. The mice wouldn't go near the snap traps, the electronic zapper traps nor the catch and release type traps.

Even the glue traps they learn to avoid. They just hop over it. What I did was build little mazes that forced them to travel. I used boxes from the post office. I put the glue traps on the wall and other places. I found the mice would see a glue trap on the floor and run, hit the side of the wall and bounce over the glue trap on the floor.

Rat poison will work but you don't want to use it around pets. And rat poison takes awhile.

You could also try what my neighbor did when she had an opossum in her garage. She couldn't coax it out, so she started the car and closed the doors and sealed them with rags and left the car run for a long time. This killed the opossum.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 05-02-2011, 05:15 PM
dracoi dracoi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
I don't think disease is as big a problem as the general mess. Bleach will go a long way toward killing just about everything once you've removed the surface messes, and a professional cleaner will have things that help to break down waste product enzymatically. A very badly soiled seat or carpet might be easier to replace than to clean.

I am pretty allergic to mice and have asthma. Wiping down surfaces with a basic cleaner or bleach has always been sufficient for me. (I deal with mice a lot, since I feed them to my snake).

One tip: I'm not a fan of poison for mice in indoor applications. If they die in your walls, you'll smell it for weeks. If they're living outdoors, though, poison works great and doesn't take more than a day or two to start knocking the population down.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 05-02-2011, 05:27 PM
johnpost johnpost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
snap traps give positive evidence of death, a corpse to easily dispose of, uneaten bait of a sprung trap feeds others, only one mouse per trap at a time.

poison bait gives evidence of eating, multiple mice can use at a time or sequentially over a night (when they are active), they tend to go to a water source which is often outside and die there.

i use both together.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 05-02-2011, 05:33 PM
Toaster Toaster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
We do know how they are getting into the garage most likely - the sealer rubber thing at the bottom of the car door is too small, and has 2" wide gaps on each end. Not sure if we'll add caulk until it's covered when closed, or just buy a new rubber sealer. We ALWAYS keep our bird/dog food in wheeled, sealed, thick-plastic containers like Rubbermaid, and they have no bite marks. Still seems that the actual house is clean of issues, but I still don't see any poop in the garage, let alone nest material. Just the occasional dead mouse in a trap.

We won't be using poison just in case of predators (we have plenty of small hawks) and the dog. Only bleach for cleaning - next time we talk to the body shop people we can ask if they bleached anything (unlikely since the interior is cloth and black, though). Will move around the traps again, although I think the mice are just staying in the garage where it's warmer anyway, even though there's no food but a few insects and grass outside. Is a week without victims enough to figure they're all gone? Two? I can't find reliable information on that aspect, especially considering the back-and-forth temperatures here which might be sending others back into torpor. We CAN keep all the vehicles outside if we have to until the temperature has stayed warm enough.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 05-02-2011, 06:02 PM
johnpost johnpost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
poison baits are often peanut based which is a strong attractant, carnivores aren't attracted to it. to be safe anyway you place it in a bait station, a box with mouse sized holes where only mice can get to the bait. mice predators will not get a harmful dose by eating a poisoned mouse according to poison bait company instructions.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 05-02-2011, 07:16 PM
Rick Rick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 15,489
A grand for what you say the body shop has done to the car is CHEAP.
I have had repair bills on mouse damage cars go up to $14,000.
Call your insurance company, you will want to file a claim under your comprehensive coverage.
I have seen a green block placed in cars by exterminators that is supposed to keep mice and other rodents out. Don't know what it is called, but the people that have used them say they never got another infestation.
I have also heard (no cite, just what I have been told) that fabric softener sheets (Bounce et al) will also drive mice out with the smell.
If your parents store the bird seed or other food not in cans in the garage, get it in a sealed rat proof container NOW. Left in the bag, you might as well hang an all you can eat sign out.
Good luck
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 05-03-2011, 07:19 PM
Cheshire Human Cheshire Human is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: NY, USA
Posts: 4,547
I don't know if it works with mice, but I had problems with squirrels getting into my workshop (I kept finding eaten walnut shells from my tree, everywhere), so I went Googling, and a City of Toronto website said putting used cat litter in the area scared them away. Now, every few months I make my cats use the box for an extra day or two (I hate it as much as they do), put the result in a plastic trash bag, and leave it in my shop with the open end untied. I haven't had any signs of squirrels in there, since.

After the first few days with a new bag, I can hardly smell it, but someone who doesn't have cats (and the requisite litterbox) probably will. I renew it with "fresh" (PHEW!!!, if only that word were true) used cat litter about every 3 to 5 months, depending on weather. I don't do it in full winter, because: 1) the squirrels already have winter homes, and so won't be moving in, and 2) it's bad enough dealing with extra-shitty kitty litter in summer, I ain't going to do it when I also have to deal with 2 new feet of snow, too.

Do you have a friend with a cat? It might be worth a try if you can stand a bit of permanent cat-piss&shit odor. Leave bait and traps out, and see if the catch number drops off rapidly, after introducing the 'dis-attractant'. That should tell you if it works.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 05-03-2011, 08:34 PM
GameHat GameHat is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
The times I've had mice, D-don (a poison) worked really well, though it took a couple of weeks.

Anecdotally, It supposedly makes the mice unable to "digest" (or absorb, whatever) water so they get increasingly thirsty, leave the house in search of water and drop dead in some field away from your house.

When I've used it, I've never found a mouse corpse, so maybe there's some truth to that.

Of course, if you have small children or pets this isn't a good solution.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 05-03-2011, 09:52 PM
johnpost johnpost is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
poison bait blocks can be placed in a bait station. it is a box with mouse sized holes so that only mice can get to the anchored bait inside. the mice need to eat the bait inside bait station, they can't remove it.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 05-04-2011, 07:43 AM
pullin pullin is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: N Texas
Posts: 1,923
I found a sizable mouse infestation in my RV when I took it out of storage (about 4 years ago). DO NOT (repeat) DO NOT use poison. You will end up disassembling your entire vehicle to remove all the dead bodies. When I pulled up the forward subfloor, I had to remove 14 dead and decomposing bodies from the vehicle. Several required reaching into tight spaces with a running shop vac hose ("zzzzzzzzzzzzzTHUNK"). I'll leave you to imagine the visuals here. It was the most disgusting thing I've ever done. After all the carcasses were gone, I used a combination of traps and an enthusiastic Min-Pin to ensure they didn't return.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 05-04-2011, 12:03 PM
TexasDriver TexasDriver is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
No one is going to suggest calling in the professionals? We had rats in the attic. After messing around with baits and traps and glue pad and a dozen dead bodies over a period of a couple of weeks, we called a pest control company. They found and fixed a hole where they were coming in, placed a dozen or so traps, then promised to come back within 48 hours. They found numerous dead bodies, set all the traps again, and again came back within 48 hours. I don't remember if they did a third visit, but I know they did not do a fourth. Some of the money we ever spent. We have had no scratching in the middle of the night. Call the professionals. Now. Especially since you live in a hantavirus area.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 05-04-2011, 12:39 PM
Toaster Toaster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
So calling pest control IS a good idea then? Good. My dad said, "I'd rather keep buying new [glue/snap] traps than fix the garage door." Even though it's about 2" of caulking on both sides, is all. He got grumped at by the whole family for that.

The insurance company went to the body shop yesterday, taking pictures and talking to employees. Maybe if they pay for the car's problems, I can convince someone to use the money to call pest control to the house to survey the garage.

Granted, we have had no mice caught for several days now despite moving traps, ME baiting traps with delicious fresh peanut butter (seriously dad, stop with the frickin' cheese bait), adding more traps of all kinds to even more spots perpendicular to likely travel paths, and warm weather so the glue doesn't half-freeze and stop sticking to the stupid mice (it is quite frustrating to see just a patch of fur on the trap and naught else). If we catch even one more though, I'll suggest it as an option and do my damnedest to get pest control out here. I know we have some that specialize in mice, even. I believe I had read that after 2 weeks of baiting and moving traps that you caught nothing, you are probably finished with mice, but I can't guarantee the accuracy of the information.

And yes, even if the pros suggest it, we are NOT going to use poison because we KNOW the stench of rotting, lost carcasses, and we KNOW the nastiness that comes out of those being left unfound. I want to see the dead and toss them in the garbage (the trucks here are machinated to throw your trash away so I assume it's safe since it wouldn't be handled except by people scavenging the dump).

And yes, all our bird seed and dog food are inside thick, pest-proof Tupperware containers about 2" above the ground due to their wheels and are inspected regularly for intrusion. There is no remotely accessible human food in the garage unless they start opening freezers.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 05-04-2011, 03:50 PM
control-z control-z is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
I have had good luck with the D-Con box-type traps, they are a black plastic rectangle with a mouse-hole shaped entrance at one end. The mouse has to go down the hallway to get to the bait, then SNAP!
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:03 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.