Deer Mice

Asked January 13, 2021, 3:12 PM EST

I am having trouble with mice ( Deer mice I think), in and around my garden. it started in the summer. At that time I thought I also had a problem with pocket gophers as well and determined that winter would be the best time to address the issue.
I found a pro who traps gophers and moles and he thought maybe I have moles. He comes once a week to check his mole traps.
It looked like the mole holes have been being used by voles and I began attempts to trap them with peanut butter-baited mouse traps. I have caught 9 mice ( deer mice I think; their tails are sharply bicolored - white below, dark above, and they are the right size ). and no voles. The ground in and around my garden is riddled with holes. In 30 years I have never seen anything like this. They ate the bean seedlings and are nibbling up the chard. Though I have had some success trapping them I think their numbers are far beyond my abilities.
Is there any poison I can use that would not harm pets ( a cat ), or other wild animals?
In the last Extension newspaper Christy Tanner wrote about zinc phosphide for voles. Would this be a good choice for mice? Is it safe to use around the cat and the wild animals, also sheep that I have ( though it is quite unlikely that I would need to use it or anything in the sheep pasture ),
Any help you can provide would be appreciated.
Jude Sandberg

Benton County Oregon

2 Responses

I strongly suspect that you have voles, likely gray-tailed voles. Voles also have two-toned tails and their habit is to build extensive below-ground tunnels and above-ground "runways" between the many entrance holes. Your trapper sounds like their knowledge of target ID is very limited. I would reconsider paying for that service provider. Is it possible for you to take a picture (cell phone is fine) and upload it to this question thread? If so, please try to place something near the hole and runway to help scale the size - A quarter is an excellent tool for this!
Assuming you are dealing with voles: Trapping right now, while populations are relatively low, is a good idea if you're working on a relatively small scale, such as a yard or garden. Another approach to consider is to have the whole burrow system tilled or disced - That would kill some animals but it would destroy/disrupt the safe-travel network of tunnels. Zinc phosphide is supposed to "end" with the first animal that swallows it but increasing anecdotal examples suggest that in fact animals that eat animals killed by the poison can be damaged or killed. Zinc phosphide and other toxicants have no idea what is swallowing the product and the lethal effects act the same regardless of the species ingesting the chemicals. Zinc phosphide however, is the only toxicant legally labeled for use on voles. If it is used at all, the bait must be place IN the burrow entrances to avoid poisoning non-target animals.

They're mice. Long skinny tail. I have seen a lot of voles . I had 2 dead ones sitting on my desk as i wrote the question, next to my mammal ID book. I measured the tail and body as I was researching the specie.
I am not good at taking pictures in the modern way but I will try when I catch the next ones.
If you could consider the possibility that I am correct, is the answer still the same?