Whether you own or rent your home, live in the city or country, chances are you'll have a mouse in your house one day. Even if you don't see the mouse, you'll recognize its presence by the little droppings that look like black grains of rice or perhaps by gnawed woodwork, holes chewed in your food wrappers, or rustling in the walls at night. Before calling the pest control professionals, you can try these tips on your own to rid your home of this pesky critter that can cause damage and spread disease in your household.
Arm Yourself with the Right Tools
While you can buy traps that catch multiple mice simultaneously with one device, these are usually only available by mail order. You don't want to wait that long as mice can multiply in your house rapidly. Also, if you get to the point where you need to catch a large number of rodents, you're probably better off calling a professional pest management service.
If you think you just have one or two mice, you can try catching them on your own with these supplies:
- old-fashioned snap traps (purchase a half-dozen or so)
- crunchy peanut butter
- disposable gloves
- plastic bags
- barbecue tongs
- steel wool (kitchen scrub pads will do)
- weather stripping for under doors
- dryer sheets and/or mothballs and/or peppermint oil
- plastic food containers with lids
Avoid glue traps that inhumanely catch the mice live or poison that could be dangerous for pets and that leaves you with a dead mouse rotting in your walls. Additionally, avoid traps that let you catch mice live and release them outdoors--they'll just run right back into your house, even if it takes weeks from some distance away.
Think Like a Mouse to Outwit Them
Your approach to ridding your home of mice needs to have four prongs: block, repel, starve, and trap. First, use chunks of steel wool to block up any gaps, even as small as one-quarter inch, where mice can come and go from the outside or within your home. Look at your baseboards, pipe entrances under sinks, etc. Use weather stripping to block any spaces under your exterior doors.
Make your home less hospitable to mice by placing dryer sheets in drawers and closets, in the bottom of cabinets, or anywhere else they frequent. Other odors mice don't like are mothballs (be careful if you have pets) and peppermint. Place cotton balls dipped in peppermint oil in typical mouse locations to further discourage their presence.
Second, cut off the food source for the mice. Use plastic containers with lids to store any food that can't go in the refrigerator or freezer. Try to put all your food in upper cabinets rather than lower ones. Don't leave dog food sitting at night, and clean up your kitchen after every meal.
Set your snap traps at night perpendicularly along the walls or in nooks where mice are thought to travel. Bait them with crunchy peanut butter, and jam some pieces of peanut in the bait area, so they have to work hard to get them out. This ensures the traps will activate. Use the barbecue tongs to place your traps, lest one go off and injure your fingers.
Practice Hygienic Trapping
Once you have placed a trap, even if it hasn't gone off, it may have been touched by mice, so use tongs or gloves to pick it up thereafter. Clean the tongs with bleach after every use.
Wear disposable gloves, and dispose of any dead mice in plastic bags that go directly to your outdoor garbage, along with the used gloves. You can clean the traps in a bleach solution, wearing gloves, before reusing them.
Put your traps out until you no longer catch mice and no longer see evidence of them in your home. If this isn't successful, or if you keep trapping mice, you may have a large population of them. In that case, you need a professional pest control company like IPM - Intelligent Pest Management to handle the situation, or you may literally wind up with hundreds of mice in your home in just months!