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Old 08-24-2010, 12:12 AM   #1
dmartenvt
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Mouse Range

I have been running a successful yet controversial mouse relocation program. Thanks to my mastery of a cantankerous Hav-A-Heart trap, I have successully re-located 15 white footed mice from my walls to the back yard where many of their brethren are happily living. A skeptic in my midst was a fan of kill traps (until I introduced him to some of the cute white footed mice during their relocation ordeal). He claims that the relocated mice only return to the house (the swampy area is about 300 yards from the house), and I have been accused of catching the same mice over and over again.

I am wondering if anyone knows mouse behavior enough to know whether this is possible. I do happen to know one of you out there spent a surprising amount of time radio-collaring Adirondack mice.

Believe it or not, I am interested in their behavior and have taken pains to ensure that I am relocating them to the same area so they find each other, and make sure it's an area where there is good mouse habitat. I haven't any idea if the former effort is appreciated by the mice. And yes, I do realize thinking this much about the mice in my house is odd.
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Old 08-24-2010, 09:42 AM   #2
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There is a very good chance that you caught the same mouse 15 times. He's right, They can easily find their way back to your house from 300 ft away. I've had mice find their way home from about that distance many times. and once they learn the route home, they get faster at making the trip. And they will definitely go back to the same trap over and over again. we call that being "trap happy".

I'd say a good distance would be at least half a mile.

If you can, mark the animal's tail with a Sharpie. Then you'll know for sure. The best way to handle one for marking is to dump it from the trap into a zippered pillow cover. zip it closed, then grab it through the fabric behind the head and turn the cover inside out. voila! Might also want to check to see if it's lactating. in that case you may have a whole litter in your wall, and if mama disappears, they'll die and stink up your house.
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Old 08-24-2010, 12:05 PM   #3
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While not directly relevant to mice in the wild, I do happen to work for one of the worlds largest breeders of laboratory mice and rats. Mice do have a very good sense of direction and memory (very useful for Alzheimer's studies, btw) and 300 yrds is certainly in their range. Like hobbitling said, I'd go at least a 1/2 mile if not more.

You can also use food coloring to mark the mouse. While not as permanent as the Sharpie, it does allow you to avoid handling the mouse, plus gives you the ability to mark multiple mice with multiple colors. A drop or two of food coloring on the back should give you a couple of weeks (assuming you let it dry before releasing). I doubt you want to employ any of the other methods we use for individual animal identification (ear punches, ear tags, tattoo's and in some cases, rfid microchips).

The downside to not handling them, is you won't be able to check for lactation and you can expect a female mouse to drop a litter every 21 days or so. While hobbitling's pillow method will work, add in a pair of sturdy work gloves and you can grab 'em directly with your hand - a mouse can't bite through leather work gloves, where a rat potentially could.
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Old 08-24-2010, 12:52 PM   #4
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All of the mice I have trapped have only been caught once.

They are cute only so long as they stay out of the house. Not that it is any safer for them out there....the hawks and my pets claim their share as well. Even then, there is no shortage of mice around.

White-footed mice are one of the primary vectors for deer ticks and, therefore, Lyme disease. Population control is a good thing, IMHO.

-rs
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Old 08-24-2010, 01:36 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by dmartenvt View Post
I have been running a successful yet controversial mouse relocation program. Thanks to my mastery of a cantankerous Hav-A-Heart trap, I have successully re-located 15 white footed mice from my walls to the back yard where many of their brethren are happily living. A skeptic in my midst was a fan of kill traps (until I introduced him to some of the cute white footed mice during their relocation ordeal). He claims that the relocated mice only return to the house (the swampy area is about 300 yards from the house), and I have been accused of catching the same mice over and over again.

I am wondering if anyone knows mouse behavior enough to know whether this is possible. I do happen to know one of you out there spent a surprising amount of time radio-collaring Adirondack mice.

Believe it or not, I am interested in their behavior and have taken pains to ensure that I am relocating them to the same area so they find each other, and make sure it's an area where there is good mouse habitat. I haven't any idea if the former effort is appreciated by the mice. And yes, I do realize thinking this much about the mice in my house is odd.
My guess is you're catching the same mice repeatedly - a fun experiment would be to put a little mark on the mice when you catch them, and see if you start catching marked mice. If you do, use a different color and bring them farther away. Repeat until they don't come back and let us know what the results are!
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Old 08-24-2010, 03:05 PM   #6
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Get a cat....
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Old 08-24-2010, 03:08 PM   #7
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Here's a picture of one of my radio collared mice. If anyone is curious.
The bottom wire will be trimmed once we get the fit right. The top wire is the antenna. We use rubber tubing around the attachment wire to keep the wire from irritating their skin.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg mousewithcollar.jpg (60.4 KB, 213 views)
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Old 08-24-2010, 04:09 PM   #8
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Oh lovely. I'm catching the same mice over and over again. No wonder they've mastered the trap (most recently they learned to eat from it without triggering both doors, so now I have smart, well fed mice). I don't really want to sharpy them, or put them in a pillowcase because I don't want to traumatize them! Last year's program had them being relocated to the grounds of a secret Establishment down the road, which is a bit of a pain since relocations take place very late at night and I don't feel like getting in the car to relocate mice in the wee hours.

My dogs love to hunt mice. Except not in the house. Only outside. They show absolutely NO interest in mice that live with us. Apparently they are accepted members of the pack.

PS Hobbitling I'm sure what you were doing furthered the understand of the species or did some such great for the little guys but By God that picture is awful.
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Old 08-24-2010, 04:42 PM   #9
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I don't really want to sharpy them, or put them in a pillowcase because I don't want to traumatize them!
I wouldn't worry to much about that - they are hardy little critters, despite how fragile their little bodies are. Being unable to escape the trap is probably more traumatic (emotionally) to them then the few minutes you might be handling them. For that matter, the relocation and trip home

You might want to try the food coloring idea - you can apply it while they are still in the trap (thus avoiding the need to handle them), and will give you an idea as to whether you keep catching the same one, or just it's relatives. If you are catching the same one, keep in mind that relocation is only a temporary solution, regardless of how far you transport them or switch to a kill trap (glue or snap). You clearly have at least one access point (if they can fit their head in, they have access), and once winter rolls around you should expect the vacancy to be replaced.
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Old 08-24-2010, 05:05 PM   #10
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dmartenvt: I agree that they aren't the most photogenic critters, and being "scruffed" makes them look particularly awkward and pathetic. For the record, that mouse isn't choking or anything. Their eyes are just like that normally (they're nocturnal, so they have big bulging eyes).
The collars don't seem to hurt them. Most survived quite a while and continued returning to the traps and reproducing normally for weeks or months before being eaten by some hungry predator. I'm sure being ripped limb from limb by a long tailed weasel is more traumatic than being scruffed by a biologist (and hey, they get a free meal! And the fame and glory of being written about in a scientific journal)
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Old 08-24-2010, 05:25 PM   #11
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dmartenvt: I agree that they aren't the most photogenic critters, and being "scruffed" makes them look particularly awkward and pathetic.
At least that guy has hair - the hairless (aka nude) mice are funky looking, particularly when they get old and wrinkly.


Of course, most of the genetic mutations that cause or accompany the hairless trait don't allow for a populations to exist in the wild - the propensity for spontaneous tumor formation (useful for Cancer research) and compromised immune systems (AIDS and related immunological disease research) doesn't bode well for the harsh conditions of the wild.
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Old 03-30-2011, 12:21 AM   #12
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Just wanted to report the results of the mouse relocation program: it worked, really really well. The house has remained surprisingly mouse free since last August.
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Old 03-30-2011, 07:53 AM   #13
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I guess the best laid schemes of mice and men didn't go awry.
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Old 03-30-2011, 11:05 AM   #14
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Attract an Owl to your house. You will not have any more problems with mice, voles, moles, squirrels, rabbits, or any other small animals. You will have to listen to them hoot.
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Old 03-31-2011, 12:55 AM   #15
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The back swamp has had owls and its share of weasels. I love the owl hoots but it makes the dogs crazy. The dogs live peacefully with the mice that LIVE in the house. Then they hunt the weasels and the mice that live in the swamp. Then my niece and nephew make me hold weasel funerals. The dogs are, well, what can I say? They are not my best employees. I'm just happy that I didn't have to kill all the poor mice in the house because I find them very endearing.
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Old 04-02-2011, 01:55 PM   #16
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Was never determined if this was a true story, but I would think it is possible, knowing the behavior of mice...

http://www.snopes.com/media/notnews/mousefire.asp
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Old 04-02-2011, 01:59 PM   #17
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The mice in our cabin tend to be friendly and fond of dog food.



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Old 04-03-2011, 12:58 AM   #18
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That's really cute. Is your dog a vegetarian? Because that mouse looks really calm.
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:59 AM   #19
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That's really cute. Is your dog a vegetarian? Because that mouse looks really calm.
Nope, not a vegetarian. However, he apparently doesn't eat mice. He followed that mouse around the camp for 15 minutes.

The first picture - I was trying to get a shot of him walking across the floor... before I realized it, he was across my bare foot and up on my leg. So, that is the same mouse on my knee.
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Old 04-03-2011, 01:39 PM   #20
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Here's a picture of one of my radio collared mice. If anyone is curious.
The bottom wire will be trimmed once we get the fit right. The top wire is the antenna. We use rubber tubing around the attachment wire to keep the wire from irritating their skin.
Persoanlly I think you"re into mouse torture..who'd a thunk a hobbit could do that sort thing............
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