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Ask Nichole: Mice
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Ask Nichole: Mice

November 11th, 2010 by Nichole Remmert · 19 Comments · Capitol Hill

Originally Uploaded to flickr by semarrr

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve invited all of you to ask your most pressing questions, but this week I’m back with one that  has even been vexing our esteemed Councilman!

How Do I Get Rid of a Mouse in my House?

Raise your hand if you’ve had mice in your house. (Okay, put them down. You’re at work and your coworkers are staring.) It’s the time of year that the cute but pesky (dirty, annoying, thieving, eating, pooping) vermin tend to invade our homes seeking warmth and snacks.  The first one I had, I sort of hemmed and hawed because it was sort of cute, you know? But, when I discovered that the little bastard and his friends had eaten an entire bag of my dog’s food, we went to war. That first year, I lucked out – I put out the black plastic snap traps you can find at Frager’s and a few days (and 3 mouse carcasses later) my mouse problem was solved. (I don’t believe the theory that if you have one, you have hundreds – I mean, maybe, but that’s never been the case at my house.) Admittedly, one of those carcasses was produced when I vanquished one with my sneaker, but mostly the snap traps (laced with peanut butter) were good.

The next year, the invaders had gotten sneakier – snap traps weren’t getting it. I put out sticky traps, but ultimately I killed one with a funnel (it happened to be in my hand), my trusty schnoodle Ramona killed the other and again – we were rid of our unwanted guests. (If only getting rid of the human kind were that easy… )

So basically, my mouse disposal success has come down to luck. Don’t want to rely on that? Well, I’ve got a few suggestions (with pros and cons for each).

Just want them gone? Poison is the plan. This is the quickest and most efficient method to rid yourself of the critters. There are a lot of downsides to poison though, the first being, duh, it’s poison. So it’s off-limits if you’ve got pets or kids. (Just because you put the poison up high where your pup can’t get to it, doesn’t mean that the mouse isn’t going to eat it and then get eaten by your pet, which can be harmful or fatal to Fluffy.) But, if you’re looking for a swift and efficient kill – this is the way to go.

Snap Traps are usually a good line of defense. Like I said, I’ve had success with the plastic ones in the past, but not so much recently. (Oh, yeah – I have at least one in my house right now.) I know some people who swear by the old fashioned wooden ones, smeared with peanut butter and/or cheese – but in my experience, these are part of a good strategy, but not enough on their own. I’ve been left with more than one snap trap clean of food, but empty of corpse. The downside: you’re going to have to handle the carcasses.

Sticky Traps are another piece of a good defense, but like their snapping counterparts, I don’t think they are sufficient on their own. Sticky traps also suck for the squeamish since once the mouse is trapped, it’s not dead and requires some hand-to-hand combat to finish the job.

You don’t want to kill Mickey? Fine, but you better drive him out to the country to release him or else he’s coming back inside either to your house or your neighbor’s and that is not cool. Frager’s has a variety of “humane” traps that I’ve been told have varying degrees of success. I get that mice are God’s creatures too and for whatever reason some folks may wish to keep their rodent invaders alive, but again, I must beg you, not to release them anywhere near anyone’s house.

The pacifists can also try a sonar repellent which I’ve heard (har har) are quite efficient. They say that it’s inaudible to other non-rodent pets (obviously these are a bad plan if you’ve got rabbits, guinea pigs etc.) but I’m not sure I believe that and am frankly unwilling to test it out on Ramona the (Rodent) Destroyer.

The last tip I’ve heard is moth balls. Mice are repelled by the odor, but they’re also poisonous to your pets and well, they smell like moth balls. If you can deal with the smell and keep them out of reach of Fido, this seems like a not terrible way to keep the undesirables away and it does double duty keeping the flying nasties away as well.

So, there you have it – my comprehensive guide to staying rodent-free this winter. I recommend a combination of several of the above techniques, since you’re better safe than sorry. Of course, there are professionals trained to manage this for you – I know Claudia has one that she gives raves. Perhaps she’ll share in the comments?

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  • Dave

    Snap traps with peanut butter and bacon (mmmm…bacon). If that doesn’t work, call Ward Pest Control…they also were great in catching a squirrel that decided to camp out in our attic.

  • Mallory

    Electrocuting mousetraps. They blink when a mouse has been killed, so you have time to prepare yourself before dealing with the carcass. They are pricey, but absolutely worth it!

    A cat can work wonders as well…

  • http://twitter.com/nicholeaileen Nichole Remmert

    Oooh, I left this one off! A friend of mine told me that he put food at one end of a paper towel roll and then balanced it on the counter, so that when the mouse ran in to get the food, it would tip the roll (and the mouse in it) off the counter and into a large garbage bin he’d set up below. Probably the most entertaining way I’ve heard so far!

  • http://www.thehillishome.com Jon Penndorf

    We’ve had limited success with the plastic snap traps and the plug-in sonar device is worthless.

    Our cat is too much of a princess to catch mice, though she did seem at least interested in the one we had.

  • Amy

    There’s also lots of recommendations online for using peppermint oil to repel them. I’ve tried it, and it left my kitchen smelling festive for the holidays. Hard to say what it did for the mice…

  • Lorin

    Well, I am thoroughly disgusted. Yeah, I get that some people prefer to kill mice rather than use the humane traps (which do work, btw), but am I really the only one grossed out by that photo? Really? …Really? OK fine. I’ll go sulk in the corner alone. :(

  • http://www.thehillishome.com Jon Penndorf

    Lorin…just watch for any glue traps in that corner.

  • http://twitter.com/nicholeaileen Nichole Remmert

    @Lorin, when you use the humane traps, where do you release the mice?

  • Lorin

    @Nichole- The Kingman & Heritage Islands are a great place (assuming they reopen soon). 1. it’s an island, 2. no houses, 3. lots of good places where mice could settle in and find a home away from people. Who knows if I dump ‘em out there and they just get eaten by something, but hey, they get a fighting chance.

  • b

    Victor makes electronic traps which are great for those too squeemish to deal with snap traps (beheading) or glue (you’re stuck little guy — NOW what?). It shocks humanely and disposes in a little compartment for easy disposal. After sonar didn’t work at all, the Victor device was the clear winner.

  • http://www.thehillishome.com Jon Penndorf

    “shocks humanely”?

    Not according to the mouse.

  • ET

    My cat has done in 2 of the critters.

    One was left at the base of the stairs while I was at work. The other he caught while I was sitting there and he would play the catch and release game until I took his fun away and put that poor critter out the front door and watched it scamper away real fast.

  • b

    @Jon
    As someone who’s worked in a bio research labs where we used a guillotine type contraption to euthenize mice, the shock is quick, thorough, and complete. It beats the mouse meeting greivous injury before meeting its fate, like getting it’s tail or leg snapped in a snap trap or being stuck in a glue trap waiting to die — by die I mean blunt additional force or discarded.

  • b

    Agreed that cats are the best deterrent for those who do not suffer allergies. Then it’s all fair in love and the food chain. Though the cartoon images of cats eating mice is innacurate – they mostly swat them around and leave the dead at your footsteps as gifts.

  • http://twitter.com/nicholeaileen Nichole Remmert

    When Ramona bagged her kill, she brought it to me in her mouth with a look on her face that seemed to say, “I don’t know if I’m in trouble, or even really what I’m doing, but I’m forced by something beyond on my control to bring this to you.” I think she was caught off guard by instinct. Once I lavished her with praise and treats, she was on the watch for the rest of the winter. This year though, when she’s heard mouse movement, she seems to have forgotten that instinct and almost seems afraid.

  • Lee

    Build them out! Solves the problem without hurting the mice.

    Observe their behavior. How are they getting into your house? Often it is through a tom and jerry style hole in the wall or in the floor. If you don’t see one, check behind the dishwasher, fridge, stove, or W/D. Many times their entrance hole is next to one of gas or water lines connecting to your appliances

    Now go to Frager’s. Buy lots of steel wool and expandable foam sealant. Shove the wool into the holes. This prevents the mice from chewing through your barrier. Now spray the foam on top of the wool/hole. Dont use too much. They dont call it expanding foam for nothing. Also, wear latex gloves. The foam is so sticky it can pull your skin off! Good luck!

  • neighbor

    spot on, Lee! The solution is to remove the mice AND keep them from coming in again.

  • Marybindc

    Must be a bad year for mice, we’ve got them too. First time in 4 years at this house. Snap traps have gotten two so far. The snap traps at Fragers were impossible to set (the ones with plastic and wood), so we got the old fashioned ones somewhere else and that did it.

  • Mousaphobic

    I am terrified of them, can’t watch them on TV, could barely scroll past the picture above. Can’t stand to see them dead or alive. A former cat of mine brought one to me in it’s mouth, I started running and he started chasing me with it still in his mouth. After I climbed into a second story window to jump, my cat looked at me like “She’s crazy” and left the room.

    Steel wool is the way to go.