Eliminating House Mice: Extermination and Prevention Tips

Mouse trap on the other side of a hole in the wall

I have always considered myself to be a very intelligent person, but when I found myself nose to nose with the invading force of a small country mouse, I suddenly found myself outwitted by a three ounce rodent. It all started on the day I found the little “packages” my unwanted guest left behind in the kitchen cabinets. All I wanted was a peaceful bowl of cereal, but within moments of opening the door, I was pulling everything out of the cabinet, either submerging it in bleach water or throwing it away. It was an expensive process because this little furry fellow had found my food stash. I was miffed!

As I went about my cleaning, the brazen little beast popped his head out of the cabinet and ran into the middle of my kitchen floor. He stared at me and then looked at my two cats who had taken up residency in the kitchen doorway to watch me as I worked. Neither feline moved. I yelled at them to "GET HIM," and they just looked at me in the way that cats do when they have no intention of obeying. I knew that I was alone in this battle, so I went after him myself. Of course I didn’t catch him, but I knew that I would soon enough. I had declared war, and this little creature was my enemy!

I went to the local hardware store to seek options and here is what I found:

1. Conventional Snap Traps

mouse trap with peanut butter

Known for their ability to instantly kill a mouse, these traditional traps have been around for years. Best when baited with sticky food, the conventional mouse trap uses a heavy gauge steel spring bar to quickly kill the mouse when the trap is sprung. It is considered very humane and is much easier to cleanup than other options. These traps are also very inexpensive, which makes them an attractive option for those of us on a budget. Keep in mind, that with this type of trap, it is important to use a lot of them, more than you think you need. Be careful with these traps, however. The springs are very powerful and can easily hurt an unsuspecting child or family pet.

2. Glue Traps

Considered the least humane of all traps, glue traps use a sticky substance either in a tray or on a board to catch the unsuspecting rodent as it hunts for food. They are safe to use around small children and pets and can easily be disposed of. A considerable drawback to this type of trap is that it does not kill the mouse immediately. It can take a mouse days or even weeks to die from hunger and thirst, and if the mouse is found alive, it becomes the responsibility of the trapper to end the life of the mouse. These traps should only be used with the most careful consideration.

3. Live Traps

mouse munching on pantry stores

These traps are the most humane option to choose because they safely trap the mouse while it hunts for food. Traps must be checked every day to ensure that the animal does not suffer from lack of food and water. Also, if you choose to use live traps, make sure to relocate the mouse several miles from your home, otherwise, he will return to again partake of your generous hospitality. A mouse can have a territory of 200 yards or more in width, so simply releasing the little guy in the woods behind your house will not guarantee that he will not return to your home.

4. Rodent Poison

Also called rodenticide, rodent poisons affect the body’s ability to clot the blood, causing internal bleeding and eventual death. If a mouse consumes a lethal dose, it can take him up to five excruciating days to die. Expect to find dead, poison contaminated mice throughout your home within that time period, including within your walls. If a poisoned mouse dies within your walls, you can be sure that you will smell it for months to come. Take heed that poisons should not be used if there are small children or pets in the home. They will be put in considerable danger, not just because of the presence of the poison, but also because of the poisoned rodents themselves. If a pet inadvertently consumes a poisoned mouse, they run the risk of being poisoned themselves, offering you the potential devastation of losing a precious pet unnecessarily.

5. Electronic Mouse Traps

The premise behind this modern day wonder is that it will eliminate mice from your home by delivering an electric shock that kills them within seconds. When the mouse steps on the internal plate, he completes the circuit within the trap and receives a shock that stops his heart. This trap operates off of four AA batteries and is relatively easy to use. Electronic mouse traps can be rather expensive, so use them only if cost is not an issue.

6. Sonic Pest Control

Known as pest chasers, sonic pest controllers use high frequency sound waves to deter rodents from entering your home. They are safe for people and non-rodent pets, but should not be used if guinea pigs, hamsters, or gerbils are present. Although the claims seem fantastic, use these devices sparingly. They are expensive to purchase and studies have shown that they are not as effective as the manufacturers claim them to be. Sonic controllers may annoy your furry invaders, but they do not ensure that the invaders will leave.

7. The Mouse Battle

cheese in a mouse trap

Ultimately, my weapon of choice was the "old-faithful" of traps--the snap trap. I bought a dozen or so and set them up throughout the back of my kitchen cabinets, baiting them with traditional cheddar cheese. I was devastated to wake up the next morning only to find the cheese gone, the traps sprung, and no mouse for my efforts. I could not believe my failure, so I got serious and tried again. This time, I used sticky peanut butter smeared on thin strips of gauze. I wrapped the gauze carefully around the bait hook, setting the traps in pairs, with bait-end facing bait-end. The next morning, I woke up to find my little mouse seized by both traps at once. I disposed of the mouse and bleached the area down, setting the traps again, just to be sure. Low and behold, the next morning, I found another mouse waiting for me. I guess the old saying is true, “Where there is one mouse, there may be more.” I again cleaned the area and kept the traps in place for the next few nights. When I found no more mice in the morning, I knew that my job was done…for the moment.

To prevent a recurrence of my previous infestation, I worked to mouse-proof my house, both inside and out. I started on the inside of my house by putting all of my dried foods like cereal, grains, flour, and sugar into mouse-proof containers. I sealed up any small holes or crevices I found with caulking. I used plywood to cover any holes that were too big to caulk. Next, I moved my efforts to the garage. Because of my love for the birds, I had a number of bags of bird seed lying around, offering an unending supply of food for a hungry mouse. I dumped these easy-to-access bags into less inviting five gallon paint buckets, with tight fitting lids. I then sealed up any gaps or holes I found leading into the house. Finally, I evaluated the areas around the house, cutting down sections of brush and dense undergrowth which might offer a mouse safe harbor.

Thanks to my efforts, I have been mouse free for almost a year. I would not have believed how vulnerable my home was to these tiny invaders had I not gone through this experience myself. A little preventative effort on my part has made all the difference in the world, and it has ensured that these adorable creatures remain where they belong – in the wild and not in my home.