They sure have cute names, don’t they: Mickey, Mortimer, Itchy, Jerry. Yes, they’re all mice, but they’re cartoon mice whose high jinks and shenanigans don’t really cause you any misery. In the real world mice are a very important part of the web of life. They help control insects and other pests: they eat insects that can damage crops as well as fallen fruits that might attract other pests.
But there are those other times when mice become a real problem — to the home and business owner. Not only can they carry a whole laundry list of diseases, they can also gnaw through your electrical wiring and insulation, eat the food in your pantry, leave behind annoying waste and smelly urine. Whatever they touch is contaminated and they breed like, well, mice — which is to say, a lot.
So here you are: you think you might have a problem and want to know how to get rid of mice. Well, let’s take things one step at a time. First you want to make sure you’re really seeing signs of mice infestation.
Signs of Mice Infestation
If the problem you’re having really is mice the first thing you’ve probably noticed is their droppings. These can be anywhere from 1/8″ to 1″ in length and are dark with pointed ends. The next thing you might detect is the smell of their urine — which has a very distinct odor. You’ll also probably hear them gnawing, running around or making squeaking sounds. These sounds could be very faint and you might have trouble determining their location. You’ll also see evidence they’ve been around in the form of small holes gnawed in the sides of boxes or bags. Of course, you know without a doubt you have mice when you see them scurrying about.
Controlling the source
Okay, so you’ve seen the signs and you really want to know how to get rid of mice. Let’s start with the easiest and often least expensive method: controlling the source. Most often you’ll notice problems with mice in attics and basements; you’ll want to inspect these areas for possible avenues of entrance. You’ll also want to check for spaces around doors and windows. Remember mice can fit through any hole about the size of a quarter, so think small. Once you find these entrances, close them up however you can. You can use pieces of wood, screening, caulking, whatever will work to block the entrance. While this doesn’t address the mouse in your house, it will prevent its relatives from moving in.
Your next course of action in how to get rid of mice is reducing the population. One of the most important steps is to deprive the mouse of a food source. Clean thoroughly behind and around every place in your house where you store food — this includes food for your domestic animals, as well. Clean behind the refrigerator, oven, toaster; clean your pantry and cabinet shelves (while you’re at it, check for more entrance holes and plug them up as well). Also clean less obvious food sources, like under the dining table and other furniture, inside the kid’s room under cribs, and the bathroom. Make sure you put away all food before you close up the house at night. This includes removing pet food. Clean all surfaces that might have food particles on them — like tables and counters and the tops of stoves. Also deprive your unwelcome visitors of water. This means making sure all faucets are turned off and that there is no standing water in sinks or showers. You have to think like a mouse: figure out where it can get nourishment and then deprive it. Mice are smart. If you leave it out, they’ll find it.
So far, you’ve made things pretty unpleasant for your uninvited guests, but like that pesky relative who never quite figures out it’s time to leave, the mice might just stick around. Now you have no choice; you need to bring out the big guns. This is what’s known as the sad part of how to get rid of mice. Yes, mice are cute, but they’re also dangerous and destructive. So, it’s either you or the mouse.
Several methods can be used for trapping mice: glue traps, poison, live traps and the tried-and-true old-fashioned mouse trap. There are pros and cons for each of these.
Glue traps are pretty unpleasant as they trap the mouse but don’t kill it. That’s left for you to do. While mice can be a nuisance, no one wants inflict pain on a living thing, so you might not have the stomach to finish the job the glue trap started.
Poison is good, but has its drawbacks. You’ll kill the mouse but still have the decaying body to deal with. In addition, the poison could affect your pets inside and outside the house — especially if a mouse eats the poison and then your cat eats the mouse.
Live traps are favored because they painlessly trap the mouse alive. You can then take the mouse to a far-away field and let it go, or have the trap picked up by a professional who knows how to kill the mouse in a humane manner.
Basic traps, the kind that have been around for many years, are favored because they are not expensive. However, while they kill the mouse, they also leave behind a pretty unpleasant problem you have to clean up. If you do use the traditional trap, make sure you use enough of them, change out the bait often and — if you don’t seem to be catching mice — move them around until you find the mouse’s favored pathway.
While there are many things to consider when dealing with your unwelcomed visitors, one of the best moves you can make is consulting with pest professionals. They will come out and assess your property and determine your specific problems. They’ll offer you the best solutions for your situation.
So if you think this information not enough or you have much more serious mice infestation, we recommend read our complete guide – how to get rid of mice in the house.