There’s an old adage that claims the following: for every mouse you see in the home, another ten are hiding nearby. Spotting a mouse making a mad dash across your kitchen floor, therefore, has worrisome implications.
There are a few reasons mice are considered some of the more formidable pests—they breed rapidly, need very little to survive, can carry several diseases, and can be incredibly destructive, chewing through walls, insulation, and electrical wiring. While some household pests can be removed rather easily, dealing with mice requires diligence and a bit of savvy.
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How to Get Rid of Mice
The most effective way to get rid of mice is traps. Mouse traps can help get a rodent population under control; it will not provide a permanent mouse control solution.
Snap traps are as old as time. In the past, they were almost always made of wood, but some companies offer modernized versions of this age-old trap that are made of plastic and reusable. Snap traps have a small bait cup into which the bait is inserted, then you pull the metal lever back 90 degrees (watch your fingers!), and the trap is set. A mouse then steps on the plate and is promptly dispatched.
- Very affordable
- Easy to set and release (the release bar is positioned so you don’t need to touch the dead mouse)
- Very quick, humane kill
Snap Trap Cons
- You will see and need to dispose of a dead mouse
Plastic Enclosed Snap Trap
These are very similar to generic snap traps, except they are encased in a hard plastic shell, and you use a lever on the exterior of the shell to set the trap. There is also an indicator for when a mouse is caught.
- Safer than regular snap traps, especially for pets and children.
- Doesn’t involve seeing a dead mouse
Snap Trap Cons
- More expensive than regular snap traps
Live Catch Mouse Traps
These devices are unique in this list in that they do not kill the rodent; rather, they simply hold it until you can release it elsewhere. There are two main versions of live catch traps: metal cages, and plastic tubes, both of which are outfitted with trigger-operated doors. Metal cage traps are preferred as they are large enough that the captured mouse likely won’t get overly stressed out in the time it is detained.
- No-kill method
- Can catch several mice at once
Snap Trap Cons
- The trap must be monitored consistenly since the mouse remains alive.
- Inconvenient, since the mice must be delivered to a release location that is far enough from your home (around 3 miles) that they don’t find their way back.
Electric Mouse Traps
Electric traps work by luring rodents into a chamber and administering a lethal shock. They are gaining in popularity because they are one of the more humane options, killing mice almost instantly. They are also engineered to include a no-see, no-touch disposal procedure, and a light to indicate when a rodent has been caught. They are also designed to ensure that humans and pets cannot be shocked.
- Quick, humane kill
- No-see, no-touch disposal
- Can be expensive
- Have to be kept dry (not recommended for outdoor use)
- Run on batteries, and one zap uses quite a lot of juice (not recommended for large infestations)
How to Get Rid of Mice Naturally
An increasingly popular way of keeping rodents at bay is via ultrasonic repellents. These devices use sound waves to drive away rodents, and they can be quite effective. There are a few caveats, though. One, they need to be plugged in to work, and rats and mice obviously can’t be relied upon to establish their nests near electrical outlets. Two, the frequencies emitted by these devices can’t travel through walls, and have been known to affect small pets like guinea pigs. For these reasons, ultrasonic repellents are not recommended as an ideal solution to a mouse infestation, especially if you have pets.
The effectiveness of natural repellants in general is equivocal (since they are backed more by personal experience than hard science). Even if these repellents drive away mice, the underlying issues that attracted mice are still present. It is a temporary solution at best.
Some smells that mice hate that can work as a repellent are below.
- While peppermint is a delightful smell to humans, rodents seem to be more than a little turned off by the smell. Soaking cotton balls (or rags, towels, etc.) in peppermint oil and spreading them in rat and mouse-prone areas can be an effective measure against mice and rats, and also make your house smell pleasant in the process. Win-win!
Rats and mice have a very keen sense of smell, and tend to dislike very potent smells, like pepper. Sprinkle some of these flakes in areas where rats are suspected to frequent, and the situation may improve.
Yet another concoction of pungent smells that rodents won’t much appreciate. Mix equal parts ammonia and vinegar to a spray bottle and mix well. Then spritz in areas where you have seen rats or mice.
Rats and mice are thought to abhor the smell of dryer sheets. The great thing about this method is that it’s so easy—no mixing or soaking required. Simply leave them around your house where you have seen rats or mice or suspect they may be living.
Why Are Mice in Your House?
Food/water. All mice are omnivores, but diet does vary somewhat among mouse species. The house mouse, for instance, consumes seeds and insects when outdoors, but indoors, these highly opportunistic feeders will munch on basically anything that’s digestible, including grains, cereals, chocolate, fruits, meat, pet food, and even the contents of trash cans.
Shelter. Mice usually enter houses to breed and raise their young. Mice can hide in many places in your home, tending to occupy areas of structures that humans do not frequent, such as the insides of walls and cabinets, suspended ceilings, or even in the voids inside appliances like stoves—or possibly even inside your garage-queen Camaro.
Nesting material. Mice regularly raid human homes for nesting materials, regardless of where the nest is located. Perhaps unsurprisingly, mice have a special affinity for soft, fluffy materials—such as insulation and furniture stuffing—that human homes possess in abundance.
Signs of a Mouse Infestation
While an infestation might not be immediately apparent at first, mice do leave several rather damning indications of their presence:
Measuring 3 to 6 millimeters in length, mouse droppings are oblong pellets with pointed ends, usually black in color. Mouse droppings indicate where mice are most active, and are usually found around food packages, in drawers or cupboards, or under the kitchen sink.
Mice are most noisy when searching houses for food, water, and nesting materials, which occurs at night. Aside from squeaking, mice may make scratching or scampering noises while they forage. This noise is most commonly heard inside walls, or in kitchens, garages, or basements.
It should come as a surprise to nobody that mice don’t smell like Bleu de Chanel. Rather, mouse infestations produce a musky smell not unlike ammonia, or stale urine. This odor will be strongest in the areas surrounding the nest.
As rodents, mice must regularly gnaw on things to keep their ever-growing incisors filed down. Mice have very strong teeth, and can gnaw through all woods and plastics, and even harder materials like copper, aluminum, brick, and cement, although they generally aren’t compelled to gnaw through the latter materials. A hole gnawed by a mouse will be small, clear cut, and about the size of a dime. Gnawed mouse holes are larger—about the diameter of a quarter—and rougher.
Mice seek out soft, pliable materials to build their nests, such as grass, furniture stuffing, newspaper, cardboard, and insulation. Mouse nests lack any kind of cohesive structure; they usually just appear as piles of the aforementioned materials. They will always be located in areas of the house that humans rarely go to.
How to Keep Mice Away
Keep your house tidy. A cluttered room is a rodent’s dream, as it affords them all sorts of nooks and crannies to hide in. Ensure that garbage is kept in tightly sealed containers, and if possible, move objects away from walls, so you can check what’s behind them.
Eliminate food sources. Many homeowners make it too easy for rodents by leaving food, especially pet food, out in the open for these opportunistic creatures to feast on. Store all food in sealed containers, and if you have birdfeeders, consider moving them further away from the house or even taking them down completely until the issue has been dealt with. You could also mix hot pepper fakes in with the birdseed, since birds are immune to capsaicin—but rodents are not.
Seal entry points. Mice can fit through cracks of holes one-fourth of an inch or larger—or about the width of a pencil. So even small gaps should be sealed with wire wool (which is difficult for rodents to chew through), caulk, metal kick plates or cement.
Use a dehumidifier. In general, having low humidity in your home will make it less ideal for nesting or breeding. Running a dehumidifier in chronically damp areas could discourage mice and a number of other critters, too.
Don’t neglect lawn maintenance. Mice love an unkempt lawn, because it conceals them from predators, like hawks and owls. Mowing your lawn regularly should result in a decrease in rodent activity, as mice will be risking life and limb every time they cross your freshly-mown lawn. Also, eliminating brush piles and other debris can reduce the amount of nesting sites mice have at their disposal.
How Do Exterminators Get Rid of Mice?
A professional exterminator will begin by surveying your entire home. They will identify mouse entry points and signs of mouse activity. After thoroughly examining your home, the exterminators will devise an action plan, which usually involves the strategic use of traps and baits to eliminate mice. A professional will never place traps in common areas, or in places that children could easily access.
Professional Mice Control with Trutech
At Trutech Wildlife Service, we provide long-term mouse control solutions. An integrated plan including mouse traps, bait stations, exclusion repairs, and ongoing maintenance programs is essential for long-term mouse control.
The experts at Trutech will inspect the exterior of your home and identify entry points. Once located, these are promptly sealed up to prevent mice from gaining access in the future.
After thoroughly examining your home, the experts at Trutech will devise a custom action plan, which involves the strategic use of traps and baits to eliminate mice.
But while traps may be effective, traps in conjunction with bait stations are the preferred method for the complete elimination of mice.
Bait stations are small boxes, generally plastic, that have a hole that allows pests to enter. Inside the box is a highly toxic rodenticide, which many rats transfer back to their nest where it will be shared with others.
Follow-up is just as important as the initial treatment, as mice populate at a staggering rate. Indeed, one round of extermination may not be sufficient to solve your problem.
Depending on the severity of the infestation, some pros recommend extermination control once a month. During follow-up appointments, exclusion measures will be checked, as will bait stations.
Mice are noted for their destructive capacity, the staggering rate at which they breed, and the diseases they transmit, which include typhus and Hepatitis E. All these factors make banishing them an arduous task, to say the least. It is best, therefore, to call a professional service such as Trutech Wildlife to address a rodent problem as soon as it becomes apparent, because infestations can set in in a very short span of time.