In this article we are going to learn How to Control Mice. The house mouse and the field mouse are similar biologically, but the former has adapted to domestic settings, whereas the latter merely invades the home looking for food or nesting materials.
Both types of mice carry fleas, which may pass tapeworms, bubonic plague, or other viruses to you or your pets. Mice are also hosts for ticks (which can spread Lyme disease to a resident) and roundworms (which affect cats who capture and kill mice).
Because mice serve as vectors for so many infectious diseases and parasites, it’s paramount to get them out of your home as soon as you detect them.
Table of Contents
Signs of a Mouse Problem
Besides the obvious sighting of a mouse, you may also discover mouse droppings—little brown pellets that are usually found in clusters—where a mouse has been feeding. You may see small holes in paper bags, in food packaging, or in walls or baseboards, and you may even hear scratching sounds in the walls.
A simple test to see whether mice are present is to put a peanut on the floor under a cabinet or counter space in the evening. If the peanut is gone in the morning, you can almost guarantee there’s a mouse around.
Sanitation and Trapping
- Food storage: Keep grains, nuts, oats, and other pantry food in plastic or rubber containers with airtight seals. Moisture in the kitchen generally does not attract mice (though it often attracts cockroaches).
- Birdseed storage: Field mice often follow food into the home after feeding on birdseed and other grains that are left outdoors or in small storage spaces. Keep birdseed in a large garbage can with a sealable top.
- Live traps: Live mousetraps are good solutions for a field mouse problem. Field mice usually don’t nest and reproduce in the home, so consider using live mousetraps and peanut butter as bait. Set the traps in places where you think mice might be hiding: under cupboards and stoves, and in the spaces between furniture and walls. After trapping a field mouse, release it a good distance from your home. In all likelihood, it won’t return.
- Kill traps: If you’re dealing with house mice, you’re most likely dealing with a larger population. House mice will find their way indoors again no matter what, so kill traps are the best solution. Snap traps are more effective, and more humane, than sticky traps. Use peanut butter as a bait, and keep the traps set near walls or behind cupboards to ensure that the mice find them. Although it takes time for traps to rid a home completely of house mice, it can be done, so be patient.
Poison is another option for mouse control, but rarely the best option. Not only is it inhumane (it actually causes massive internal bleeding), it’s also messy: mice tend to hide when they know they’re dying, which means you’ll eventually see a lot of blood (mice regurgitate and empty their bowels when they die).
And if a mouse crawls into a hard-to-reach area—under the floor, or in a hanging ceiling, for instance—and dies there, you’ll have a decomposing mouse stinking up your house for weeks.
So although the idea of a kill trap might seem a little messy or unpleasant, it’s more humane and is nothing compared to the stench of a dead mouse that you can’t find.
Do not, under any circumstances, use poison to kill mice in your garage or storage area. If poisoned mice wander outdoors and are eaten by owls, hawks, or other animals that prey on mice, those animals can be poisoned as well.
Keeping Mice Away
Exclusion is the best way to keep mice out of your home.
- Caulking: Inspect your house siding as well as any parts of the house that make contact with the ground. Make sure there aren’t any holes or cracks. Mice can squeeze their bodies through even a quarter-inch space. Caulk should do the trick for most outdoor applications.
- Garage modifications: If you have automatic garage doors, make sure they’re as level with the ground as possible when closed, and that they close completely. Weatherstripping can be applied to the underside of a garage door to fill any gaps between the concrete and the door. Field mice love to wander into garages and nest in the engine compartments of cars (especially during the winter), because a car’s engine will stay warm for quite some time after use.
- Outdoor structures: Make sure any outdoor structures are dry-walled and well sealed. Field mice use insulation to build their nests, and they love paper products as well.