Many pet owners have little sympathy for mice and rats. The small rodents cause disgust in humans, while they are even dangerous for animal health. Mice and rats in the horse stable contaminate the feed by leaving droppings everywhere. They can destroy ceilings and insulation, cause short circuits by gnawing cables, and transfer their indoor parasites to horses. It’s important to do the right thing if you suspect or have already seen a mouse, rat or entire rodent family in the barn. Cats in the stable are a solution, but in case of a larger frequentation by mice, even the cat cannot help. Here you should resort to traps and baits that can be used to control the infestation and end it promptly.
Learn about the living and eating habits of mice and rats!
Many horse owners underestimate the intelligence of small rodents. Mice and also rats are quite cunning and not so easy to catch. The myth that a piece of cheese in a classic hinged trap is enough persists and contradicts reality. Even if you manage to catch a single one, don’t rejoice too soon. Because the other mice will avoid your trap in the future and remember how their fellow mice fared. Mice and rats move mostly at night. They warn each other with high-pitched sounds when there is danger at a feeding site. Therefore, you should take special care and create an “ambience” that suggests safety to the mouse or rat. Open food bags in the hutch attract mice and rats in large flocks. Fresh food is also perceived by the small rodents as a welcome change on the menu. Therefore, feed your horses only the amount that will actually be consumed and store the feed in rodent-proof containers.
Find out where the rodents have their nest!
To effectively control a plague of mice, you should know the main location of the rodents. When you find the nest, which is usually in larger haystacks or near feeding areas, set a hinged box trap or several classic mouse traps. Mouse traps that are ready for immediate use, including bait, are best. After all, if you reach for cheese and food, the well-intentioned mouse trapping strategy could lead to unnecessary contamination of the barn with spoiled food. After you know the mice’s living and eating habits, make sure the pest rodents don’t feel comfortable in your barn. The best way to achieve this is to control the settled population with traps and then clean and set up the barn in such a way that the rodents cannot settle again. Leftover food, unclean troughs and open feed sacks as well as cozy haystacks attract mice as well as rats and should therefore be avoided at all costs.
Mice or rats in the barn? Here’s how to tell which rodent is doing the damage
You know something is up. Or more concretely: in your barn. But is it mice or rats? Mice are considered less dangerous than rats. Nevertheless, they can cause a lot of damage and must not be allowed to spread unhindered in the barn. In order to control them in a targeted manner, it is useful to know who the “enemy” is. You can tell if you have mice or rats in your barn by the following clues.
Here’s what tracks caused by mice look like:
-gnawed gnawing chips (husks or pieces of grain about 1-2 mm in size).
-gnawed feed, but also other objects like textiles, leather, paper etc. (everything that is somehow suitable for nest building)
-excrements in the food and on the floor, the black fecal pills are about 3-8 mm in size; per mouse 60 to 80 such droppings accumulate daily; droppings of different sizes indicate offspring
Traces caused by rats look like this:
-eating marks on objects
-footprints/footprints on the floor
-Excrements are up to 20 mm in size, depending on the size of the rat; when fresh, the droppings are shiny and light to medium brown, older droppings are dark brown to black
Why mice and rats are so dangerous in the stable
Mice and rats are so-called crop followers. They find favorable living conditions in the vicinity of humans and prefer to nest in barns because there is usually a plentiful supply of food there.
Rodents are dangerous for several reasons:
-Mice and rats eat and contaminate food. Feed contaminated with excrement leads to bacterial and mold infestation. Poultry, horses and livestock can become ill as a result, such as diarrhea, colic, liver or kidney damage. In addition, mice and rats excrete pathogens of numerous infectious diseases through saliva, feces and urine, including avian influenza, swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease. Diseases contagious to humans are also transmitted by rodents.
-Mice and rats not only eat food, but also gnaw on various objects. This can range from textiles and stable utensils to electrical cables, wiring and wall insulation. The worst case scenario is a fire caused by a short circuit.
-Rats can inflict scratch and bite wounds on housed animals (especially on the feet and flot mouth/nostrils/trunk disc).
Cleanliness in the stable keeps mice and rats away!
If the horse barn is clean, mice and rats show little interest in settling. Mice are prolific breeders, giving birth to up to 20 young (per mouse!) at four-week intervals. In a clean barn, the pest rodents will not find a place to build their nest and raise the young in peace. It is therefore all the more important that you regularly check the stored hay, the feed and the thermal insulation in the hutch. Torn pieces of paper, spherical piles of hay and shavings, but also larger damp spots in the barn indicate a plague of mice long before visible fecal contamination. You can achieve good results with live and dead traps and avoid the risks associated with chemical mice control.
In the longer term, you could consider renovating the barn to eliminate voids and close entry holes. Because this also helps prevent a new rodent infestation.
In the private sector, there is another option that is not suitable for professional stables: cats and small dogs (such as terriers that specialize in catching rodents) keep the mouse and rat population in the stable in check. This is because the very smell of cat or dog will drive away the harmful rodents.
Other helpful tips for controlling mice and rats in the barn:
Tip #1: Treat all infested areas at the same time. Otherwise, the pest infestation will just move from place to place.
Tip #2: Get the neighbors on board. Often the pest infestation is larger and the neighbors should also take action against mice and rats on their properties.
Tip #3: After some time, test to see if there are mice or rats after all. To do this, lay out untreated cereal and wait and see.
Conclusion: Prevention through cleanliness!
If you are reading this article, you are already faced with the question of how to get rid of mice and rats in the horse stable and what really helps. After you have been successful in trapping, keep the barn tidy and replace the litter and blankets completely. To prevent a future plague of mice and rats in advance, it is best to follow the tips listed above and thus ensure an environment that does not invite mice and rats in the future.
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