Ok, so evil incarnate might be a bit of a stretch, particularly because most dictionaries define the word incarnate as the human embodiment of something. But make no mistake, nothing can be more horrifying than finding a family of mice has built a tenement in your motorcycle over the winter months.
Sedentary motorcycles can be an alluring habitat to mice, mainly because they’re chock full of great resources: plenty of prime real estate to develop (like on top of the engine or in the air box) and choice construction materials to create a comfortable cozy home (like foam from your air filter and/or seat). There’s also an assortment of wiring harnesses and cable housings to chew on, which is where the nightmare really begins.
The biggest problem with mice is their front teeth grow at a miraculous rate. These benign looking little furballs have incisors that can grow up to five inches per year, unless they find something to constantly chew on. Chewing on electrical wiring seems to be the go-to orthodontic treatment for mice to prevent their front teeth from becoming unmanageable. Come spring time, this could prevent your bike from running right or running at all.
Looking at a motorcycle it’s hard to imagine how a mouse could climb up into it at all. Although mice can scale rough vertical surfaces or walk across thin ropes and wires, the only places a bike touches the ground is the kickstand (which is smooth and metal), or the tires (which quickly become inverted and are wrapped around smooth metal wheels). However, mice have a 12 inch vertical jump (9 inches higher than this Caucasian) and can also survive jumping 12 feet down without injury. If the mouse is named Jerry it can also survive being frozen, shot into space, and beaten repeatedly with lawn tools and kitchen implements.
Impressed with this resilient rodent yet? How about this – mice don’t need water. Their biological makeup includes a chemical process that transforms solid food into water. All mice need to thrive is food and warmth. Colonies of mice have even been found among supplies during polar expeditions.
Mice also tend to have BIG families. Females can reproduce 5 to 10 times a year and have litters of up to 12 mice each time they give birth. That adds up to a birth rate higher than Irish Catholics and Mormons combined.
So, now that I’ve established what mice are capable of, what can be done to prevent them from destroying your motorcycle faster than Robbie Knievel riding it drunk with his helmet on backwards?
First and foremost keep your storage area free from any trace of food. That old Clif Bar in your saddle bag that’s as malleable as a hockey puck might not seem appetizing to you, but to a family of mice its like 3 months worth of food stamps. Or Meals On Wheels if you pardon the pun.
Keep vegetable garden seeds and grass seed in well sealed containers and any spilled bits of pet food swept up off the garage floor. Have a habit of chewing sunflower seeds while working on your bike? Switch to something that isn’t a food source for rodents like Copenhagen or Skoal. Yes, this might eventually cause you to lose most of your lower jaw due to cancer but your bike will remain in top working condition.
Peppermint Oil is a great natural deterrent for mice, who have a strong aversion to the smell. Douse some cotton balls in Peppermint Oil and place them where mice enter or in areas you’re trying to keep mice out of. I have first hand knowledge of fragrant oils being used as a repellent – every time I smell Patchouli Oil I get the dry heaves and run in the other direction.
If you do find holes or cracks where mice might get in, seal them off with steel wool. Mice can’t chew through steel wool but with a little luck they’ll try and choke to death in the process.
There’s also no shortage of store bought mouse traps or on line suggestions on how to kill them. I’m not going to delve into these simply because this post is geared towards prevention and I’m too lazy to research all the deliciously sadistic ways to squash, impale, poison, electrocute, and drown mice.
Of course, the best natural deterrent is a cat. Unfortunately, like all animals, cats can come with their own problems – furniture damage, fleas, and the tendency to behave like a cat. Eventually you may resort to getting a dog to solve your cat problem. Then a lion to get rid of the dog and an elephant to scare off the lion. The problem with this scenario is that you end up stuck with an astronomical food bill because nothing scares off an elephant. Except maybe a mouse.