If you are experiencing a mouse problem, then you’ve come to the right place. This is the definitive guide for getting rid of mice. Before I get started though, I just want to let you know that you’re not alone. A recent survey published by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) found that nearly one-third of Americans have had a rodent problem in their home – that’s approximately 21 million U.S. homes invaded by these little creatures every year. So it appears you’ve won the rodent lottery, now what?
On this page
Identifying Mice Problems
So if you’ve come to this site, you probably already know you have a mouse problem, but it’s best to make sure you’re treating the right problem. Confirming that your rodent is actually a mouse and not some other creature is critical to effectively eliminating your problem. If you have rats for example, you’re going to have to take a different approach to get rid of them. For one, you’ll probably need a bigger trap. So for the sake of argument, review these commons signs of mice:
- You’ve seen a mouse running across the floor (yes, I am “Master of the Obvious”). This is a usually pretty good sign you have mice.
- Rod-shaped feces that tend to be pointy and each ends, up to a quarter or one half inch in length. If the feces is rounded in larger, you may have yourself a rat problem. The image to the left demonstrates some of the features of rat vs. mice.
- If you hear mysterious rustling sounds that sound like they’re coming from inside the walls, or in the ceiling, this may be rodent mice making its way between food and its nest.
- You may also recognize what are called mouse tracks along the edges of walls near the floor. Mice are generally blind and will rub against the sides of the walls to maintain their orientation. Because the mice are dirty, you will often times notice dirt smudges along paths that mice frequent. This is a prime location to place traps, so if you recognize this feature take note of it.
If you still can’t tell whether or not you have a mouse infestation, try this neat little trick to eliminate all doubts. In locations where you think the mice may be, sprinkle baby powder lightly on the ground and wait a few days to see if you see any footprints in the baby powder. Once you do that you can start to determine the intentions of the mouse by seeing where it’s going. This is also a great way to determine whether or not you have a mouse or a rat because the distance between the footprints will be different. Rats have a much wider profile than mice do.
Understanding Why You Have Mice
Getting mice in your home is normal, but oftentimes avoidable. Mice are primarily motivated by two things: food and shelter. As fall approaches and the temperature starts to drop, mice start to look for refuge in a warm area (your home) near a food supply (your home). What type of food are they looking for? Just about anything: pet food, cereal, grain, crackers, you name it. If they can get to it, they will eat it. You know mice like food – that’s why you bait a trap – so it should come as no surprise to you that the NPMA survey found that 50% of infestations occur in the kitchen. This bears repeating: half of all mouse infestations occur in the kitchen.
You know how to stop this. Take away the food source.
The best way to eliminate this food source is to store it properly. You don’t have to get rid of it completely, that’s nonsense. For example, if you have a large bag of dog food, don’t just set it on the side of the garage in the back. Mice will very easily chew through the bottom corner of the bag and have a virtually unlimited supply of food for the winter. Instead purchase a large, sealable plastic container and house the food in there. This one time expense of purchasing plastic storage containers will pay dividends when it reduces or eliminates your mouse problems. Don’t be cheap because you’ll pay for it later. If it’s too late, now you know for next time.Cereal boxes are another prime target for mice because chewing through the cardboard sides is no match for their teeth. As a matter of fact, it’s extremely common for mice to shred cardboard or paper and use the material to form their nest. Once they’ve found food, mice will typically go no further than 25 feet from their nest. Keep an eye out in the pantry because food that is stored in there for a long time without much human traffic is mice heaven.
It is also important to ensure that you maintain a clean household. Do not leave plates with food out in the open, make sure to immediately wash them. You’ll also want to take care to thoroughly clean countertops if you have a mice problem because they are known carriers of several diseases. If you find that a food source has been invaded by mice, throw away the food immediately – do not eat the food. You want to systematically go through your house and thoroughly clean anywhere food has ever been. Check under your children’s beds, look under the couch cushions, look behind the bar where you store your alcohol, just about anywhere food could be or has been, you’ll need to clean thoroughly and ensure food is no longer there, and if it is there make sure it is properly stored. The point of this step is to eliminate shelter for mice and remove their food source. This step will help prevent mice from coming in the first place.
Another step you’re going to want to take after thoroughly cleaning everything is to remove all access points into your home. Mice are very small and nimble creatures and can fit through a hole the size of your pinkie finger. Look around pipes or other places where the exterior of your home is breached for some access (cable, water, telephone, etc.). For permanent fix use some kind of sealant, or if you’re looking for a temporary quick fix you can use steel wool or some other wire mesh. Mice cannot chew through metal, but they are able to chew through plastic, cardboard, or other soft materials. The point of this step is to eliminate access to your home or garage. It is extremely important that you isolate all possible entrances because if you leave just one this is all a mouse needs to get in. This is something you may want to do both inside and outside your home. Inside don’t forget to look under cabinets as this is a perfect place for a mouse to hide and breed.
Get Rid of Mice
There are a lot of ways to get rid of mice. I’ll talk about a few of the common methods here, but this entire site is dedicated to helping you get rid of mice.
The wooden snap trap is probably the most common mouse trap because it not only works, it works well. They work by simply placing some sort of bait on a trigger and when the mice goes to take the bait it activates the trap which snaps down and breaks their neck. It’s really simple how it works. You just lay several of these in the area where the mice are known to be, and they will hopefully take the bait if you choose the right one and they will die. The problem with this is that they can get messy at times – some people have reported that the mouse’s head has been snapped clear off, but this is rare. It is best to place these traps along the wall where you identified the mouse uses as a trail to and from its nest or the food source. Remember the mouse tracks that I talked about when you identify the signs of mice.
If you don’t like the possibility of breaking the mouse’s neck to kill them, you can try deploying some of the electronic mousetraps that are on the market. These work in a similar fashion in that there is a bait placed in the electronic trap and when the mouse tries to take the bait it closes an electrical circuit that induces a fatal electric shock. Some people may find this inhumane, the most electronic traps subscribe to the international humane kill standards. Another nice thing about this trap is that it can be used to kill many mice, but if your home is overwhelms you may need more than one.
Live Catch Traps
There are also a variety of live catch traps on the market that work by luring a mouse into a container that has a one-way door. The mice can get in but the mice cannot get out. Some people prefer this method as they do not feel comfortable killing the mice or handling the dead mouse. They like this so they can catch and release it back into the wild. Of the problem with this is that mice have an instinctual homing beacon that will bring them back to their nest. If you do choose to catch and release them anyways, make sure that you release them at least 1 mile from your home otherwise you may find that they wind up on your front porch again.
Mouse Repellents and Mouse Deterrents
There are numerous mouse repellents on the market. Some of the most common you’ll run into are the ultrasonic mouse repellents. These devices work by emitting high-pitched frequencies beyond the human hearing that are threatening to mice. One of the sounds they mimic is the sound of a dominant male and because of the territorial nature of mice they will move onward and look for another place to stay. People have reported varying levels of success with these devices, but it is my belief that the most common source of failure is the improper usage of the device. It is important to deploy these devices such that the sound they emit extends out into the zone from which you’d like to repel the mice. The most common problem with this device is placing them behind furniture in which the sound is absorbed, or purchasing a device that is too small to cover the desired area. Note that if you have any sort of rodent pet such as a gerbil, hamster, or other you will not want to use this device as this will essentially be torturing your beloved animal. It is safe to use with other household pets such as dogs and cats.
Another thing that doesn’t mix very well is peppermint oil and mice. Mice detest the smell of peppermint because their noses are very sensitive and the scent of peppermint is extremely strong. The scent overwhelms them and helps to prevent them from entering the treated area.
Many people think that mouse poison is the easiest way to get rid of mice because it is simple and effective. While this is true using mice poison is dangerous to your own pets and other small animals such as squirrels or your neighbor’s pets that may come across and eat the poison. Another problem with mouse poison is that when the mice either they do not die immediately. Usually when a mouse has finished eating he returns to his nest. Once the poison kicks in, he will die… most likely in his nest… Which may be in the wall of your home. That means the mouse will start to decompose in a location that is inaccessible to you and begin to emanate a putrid dead mouse smell. The thing you lose when deploying mouse poison over standard mousetraps is control – control over where the mouse dies.