To Catch Or To Kill, That Is the Question

While I was on my way home, my daughter Mariam franticly called me because she had seen a small mouse running in our family room. I told her that I would stop by the supermarket to buy mouse traps. She insisted that we catch the mouse live and dispose of it. She didn’t want to kill it or use any poisons that might hurt our three house cats. In fact, the scene was quite comical because in our time of need, the three cats were no where to be found!

I wasn’t worried about having a rodent infestation in the house because we observe integrated pest management practices. Furthermore, I hope that the cats’ presence should serve as a natural deterrent. I suppose that the small field mouse, which seemed to be as frantic as my daughter, must have entered the warm house while I brought the garbage can and recycling bin inside. Yes, I had left the kitchen door open in the process, me bad.

When I got home with two sets of mouse traps (including a live-catch one) my daughter kept insisting that she didn’t want to kill the mouse. Surprisingly, while the mouse was scurrying around the family room trying to escape, it jumped into a box full of toys. My husband quickly took the box, dumped it out on the deck, and the small mouse leaped to freedom.

So what are the do’s and don’ts to get rid of mice and other pests in the home? Simple tips include removing sources of food, water and shelter. If you have to use pesticides, read the label first and keep children and pets away while these pesticides are being applied. In the home, traps and baits pose less risks to children and pets. Nonetheless, place them in areas where your children or pets cannot reach. In fact, the use of rat poison in the home leads to accidental poisonings of children on a yearly basis. The Agency has announced stricter policy guidelines to prevent rodenticide poisonings.

I must confess that while the mouse trapping scenario was hilarious this weekend, rodents and other pests in the home are not a laughing matter. They present many health risks and need to be handled properly. With preventive measures, you can keep everyone at home safe and the pests far away.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.