Are you hearing scratches in your walls or have you found droppings or chewed food wrappers in your cupboard? You might be hosting a family of mice. If you see one mouse, there are sure to be many more of his friends and family nearby. It’s time to take action before they multiply. One mouse can have five to ten litters of three to twelve mouse pups a year!
If your cat isn’t doing her job of catching them, there are other ways to keep mice out of your house.
Of course, the best thing is to prevent the little critters from inviting themselves into your home in the first place. Apart from spreading disease, they can do a lot of damage to your home and property. But when it happens, how can you remove them and keep them from sneaking back?
Everyone knows a mouse can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime, and worse, rats can squeeze through a hole as small as a quarter. It’s time to go on the offensive and look at your house from the perspective of a cold, hungry mouse.
Check your home’s exterior walls, grout and foundation for tiny cracks, then repair them with concrete before the next cold spell when mice are looking for a warm place to overwinter. Steel wool is a great way to keep mice from entering your home. Just stuff it into gaps in plaster around pipes. Add metal mesh to vents and soffits.
Once you are confident there are no other easy entry points such as doorway thresholds, worn weather stripping on windows, uncovered dryer and attic vents, holes made by exhaust pipes, or loose soffits, then you are on your way to being mouse free.
Make your home a no-squatting zone.
Discourage mice from setting up camp in your yard or around your house by cutting back brush and keeping grass short. Store wood and other materials that could harbor mice as far from your house as possible.
If you have an outdoor compost, fasten strong metal mesh around the bottom of the composter to keep mice from getting in. Never put any eggs, milk products or fatty foods in your outdoor composter.
Gardeners who use mulch to keep gardens moist and cool during droughts should rake their mulch regularly to keep mice from nesting in it. Ivy and other dense ground cover also give mice the perfect hiding spot for nesting in your garden.
Prevent exposure to Hantavirus.
Mice and rats carry Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) virus, which causes severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease in humans. Deer mice are the most common carriers of the deadly Hantavirus.
Mice are looking for food, so make sure they won’t find any in and around your house. This means taking extra care to store all food in heavy plastic, glass or metal containers with tight fitting lids. Keep your kitchen clean and all areas of your home vacuumed and free of food crumbs.
Once in your home, mice may keep looking for sources of nourishment and will even eat soap.
In an effort to be humane, many homeowners are turning to humane methods of capturing mice, which involve trapping them in a live trap with a spring release door that closes behind the mouse. Keep an eye on the trap every hour if possible and when you find a mouse inside, release him outside. Many of these mice will run right back into your house if you don’t take them far enough away and have not sealed the cracks around your home.
Homemade humane trap
Try making your own humane trap with a small wastebasket. Put some dry oatmeal or peanut butter in the basket and place a few books beside the basket to encourage the mouse to climb up and jump into it. The mouse will be unable to get out again as the sides of the plastic bucket will be too slippery.
You can also try making your own bait that will ultimately kill the mice. Use one part cement, one part oatmeal and place in strategic locations in small paper cups cut to one inch high. The mice won’t be able to digest the cement.
Mice do not like certain smells – use this to your advantage. Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and place in areas they usually go.
Spray a mixture of water and ammonia to outdoor walls.
Sound devices emit an annoying sound but mice soon get used to it and they will still keep coming in.
Catch and release
Consider a multi-mouse live trap that doesn’t use bait or poison. Place the mousetrap box along the path used by mice in your home and they will run right into the hole and be unable to get out. You will need to take the mice away to free them, but check local regulations before driving them out to the countryside.
The mouse trap
The tried-and-true, trusty, spring trap wooden mouse trap does work. Use cheese or peanut butter for bait. If you aren’t averse to dealing with the dead mouse once the trap has done its job, then this is likely the most effective method. When you catch a mouse, put it in a plastic bag, seal the bag and throw it in the garbage. Always wear rubber gloves when removing the dead mice, and wash your gloves with soap and water before you take them off. Always wash your hands with soap and water to prevent the spread of Hantavirus.
The sooner you tackle your mouse problem the better, to prevent disease and damage to you, your family, and your home.