Learn the best ways to get rid of mice and keep them away
A mouse in your home demands immediate attention. They are persistent pests and can bring serious health hazards. If you see one mouse scurrying around, you can be certain that he has a host of friends and family nesting nearby.
This guide will teach you how to eliminate mice and protect your home from future infestations.
Identifying a Mouse Infestation
The common house mouse is primarily nocturnal, but will brave open areas of the home in daytime if its need for food or water is urgent. They tend to nest in warm, out-of-the-way areas such as near refrigerators, water heaters and furnaces. They can squeeze into impossibly small spaces; a ¼-inch hole, crack or gap is enough to allow a mouse to pass through.
The preferred food of the house mouse is cereal and grains, but they will eat whatever food they can find. Their sharp teeth make them very good at gnawing into paper and plastic food packaging. They also wander your home in search of nesting materials, with a preference for soft things like bits of cotton and shredded paper.
Mice are most prevalent in the fall and winter when they try to come indoors to find warm, safe places to winter. Once they gain a foothold in the home, however, it can be very difficult to dislodge them. On average, a single mouse will reproduce 10 times per year, so just a few fuzzy freeloaders can quickly become an infestation with serious health repercussions. A buildup of rodent waste can aggravate allergies and asthma; mice also can spread illnesses, including Hantavirus, Lassa fever and leptospirosis.
Evidence of a mouse infestation:
• Claw or chew marks on and around food packs and shelving
• Food debris on shelves or in unusual places
• Sudden shorts in lights or other appliances - mice are known to chew on and damage wiring
• Droppings - small, oblong black specks collected in cabinets, under sinks or near appliances
Getting rid of a mouse infestation completely can take some time, but by attacking the problem methodically, you can get excellent results.
1. Eliminate mouse entrances.
The first step in getting rid of mice is to prevent any more of them from entering the home. Check in common spots for mouse activity, including:
• Where pipes enter the basement
• Pipes that connect to appliances, such as under the sink or behind the oven or refrigerator
• Along basement foundations
• Chimney openings and vents
• Along baseboards
• High points where walls meet
• Outdoor storage, such as sheds or compost bins
Use a physical barrier to cover over any gaps you may find. Mice can't chew through steel, so use wire mesh screen to close off any opening you find outside and steel wool and caulk for any mouse holes you find indoors.
Tip: Be sure to examine your garage for mouse activity. Mice can attempt to nest under the hood of your car where it is warm and can cause damage to car wiring and other internal parts.
2. Select appropriate treatments.
There are number of effective ways to tackle a mouse problem with each having unique advantages and disadvantages.
• Easy to use
• Can be visually disturbing
• Enclosed - user won't
• Single use per trap
• Low cost per use
• Must search for dead mouse for disposal
• High success rate
• Higher cost
• Requires more frequent monitoring
• Short range - multiple devices needed to provide full home coverage
• Does not produce quick death
Tip: The CDC has advised against the use of glue traps and live traps. Trapped mice can be frightened into releasing urine, which can spread germs and diseases.
3. Place and bait traps correctly
Trap placement is key to a successful mouse catch. Set up mouse traps in places where heavy activity has been detected. Position the bait end of the trap perpendicular to the wall so it forms a "T"; mice tend to run along baseboards for safety.
Tie or hot glue bait to the bait pan of the trap to prevent the mouse from carrying off the prize without springing the trap. While cheese is thought of as traditional bait for mouse traps, more success is reported with peanut butter, bacon and even oatmeal as lure. Traps can also be baited with nesting materials, such as small pieces of cotton or yarn.
Place a minimum of six traps; using multiple types of trap at once can also help speed up the catch. Check the traps regularly and refresh bait every couple of days. If several days go by with no catch, try moving the traps to other locations around the home.
For outdoor areas, place baits in areas where mice have been detected, but sheltered from other wildlife that might try to eat the bait.
Indoors and out, there are a number of preventative steps you can take to make your home less hospitable to mice and decrease the chance they'll return.
Perform upkeep to make outdoor areas less inviting.
• Add squirrel guards to bird feeders and hang them away from your house
• Keep outdoor cooking areas and grills clean and free of food debris
• Locate compost bins and woodpiles at least 100 feet away from the home
• Store grains and animal feed in thick plastic or metal containers with tight lids
• Do not leave animal feed or water dishes out overnight
• Elevate garbage cans, hay and woodpiles at least 12 inches off the ground
• Cut back shrubs and low branches within 8 feet of the house
• Keep grass cut short within 20 feet of the home
Rethink food storage.
• Keep food in airtight containers made of metal or thick plastic
• Do not leave produce out on counters or tables
• Do not leave pet food or water out overnight
• Consider limiting food consumption to one area of the home
• Clean up spilled food right away
• Wash dishes and cooking utensils immediately after use
• Store trash and food waste in rodent-proof containers and empty frequently
• Clean indoor garbage containers frequently with soap and water
• Vacuum regularly to ensure no stray crumbs are left in carpets or rugs
• Discard items mice may use for nesting materials, such as newspapers and old magazines