Alongside with rats, mice remain one of the most dangerous and annoying rodent pests in a private house or in an apartment. Elimination is not a simple task, but it is bearable if you know what to do and how to do it. Many believe that getting rid of mice and rats are the same thing. But mice behave differently, and you should know about these differences to fight them successfully. As we value your time, we have compiled all of the necessary information in a single article.
Are you ready for the mouse hunt? Let’s get started!
Table of Contents:
- What You Should Know About Mice
- 2 Best Ways to Kill Mice Fast: Poison Baits and Electronic Traps
- How to Get Rid Of Mice in Your House (Walls & Attic)
Mice are often confused with rats, their close relatives. No wonder, as they really seem to be similar both in their appearance and behavior. Here are the main differences:
- A mouse is smaller than a rat
They are tiny rodents, their maximum weight is 50 grams, and their length varies from 2.5 to 4 inches. They have long thin tails, small heads, large ears and large eyes. In comparison with mice, rats are giants: their weight ranges from 200 to 700 grams. Imagine how gigantic an adult rat looks compared with a small sly mouse.
Interesting fact: It is the size which makes the mouse (and not the rat) most dangerous for house-owners. According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources research1, “Because mice are so small, they can gain entry into homes and other buildings much more easily than rats. As a result, house mouse infestations are probably 10 to 20 times more common than rat infestations”.
- Mouse feces are much smaller than rat ones
This is useful knowledge, if you haven’t been able to actually catch the rats, but could notice their feces in the attic, on the stairs or somewhere else. Mice and rats leave droppings along their trails, in feeding areas, and near shelter. Mouse droppings are usually about ¼ inch long, whereas those of rats typically are ¾ inch long.
- They don’t travel far from their nest
Youngsters are known to fit into a crack which is only ¼ inches wide. Adults won’t get far away from their nest in search of food, so it will be easier for you to find a mouse nest. This isn’t true for rats that have more stamina and can travel great distances. This is confirmed2 by the Department of Public Health (Los-Angeles): “Each night, rats can travel from 100 to 300 feet from the nest in search of food. House mice can search for food and nesting materials in an area as small as 10 feet from the nest or as far as 50 feet away”
- Rats are more likely to inhabit a large house, whereas the mice can settle in a small apartment
Since mice are smaller, hiding is easier for them. Moreover, they are very quick; their velocity can reach 13 km per hour! That’s why they’ll be fine in an apartment. This isn’t the case for rats though. The latter look for a shelter with plenty of food, trails and holes in the walls and floors as well with lots of garbage in order to settle unnoticed by the pets and humans.
NB: Mice and rats are natural enemies when it comes to food and territory, and they can’t coexist. The latter usually destroy or drive away the small scared house mice. John W. Hermanson, associate professor at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, N.Y. affirms that “the house mice and their country cousins, deer mice, might be in the same area, but they tend not to interact with the far larger Norway rats familiar to city dwellers”. He believes that this happens due to the fact that the rats prefer human garbage and other trash, and ferociously protect their trophy from others, especially from the mice. That is why it is highly unlikely that both these rodents infest your house.
According to3 the Missouri University, mice have keen senses of taste, hearing, smell and touch. They are excellent climbers and can run up any rough vertical surface. They will run horizontally along wire cables or ropes and can jump up 12 inches from the floor onto a flat surface. And can squeeze through openings slightly larger than a pencil.
After you’ve made sure that it is the mouse but not rat have entered your house, you should figure out what type of mouse is attacking you.
You don’t understand why you need this? Look, house mice don’t carry rabies and other dangerous Hantaviruses unlike deer mice. However, the former can contaminate you with Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM), one of the typical house mice carried disease, according4 to the CDC scientists.
House mice are considered to be one of the most spread mammals on earth. They breed fast and cause much harm, that’s why they are often compared to Norway rats in terms of the hazard they cause to human property. Here are statistics5 listed by the Utah State University: “...In one study, 76% of grain samples in a Midwestern state were contaminated with mouse droppings”.
It can be recognized by their total grey color, small size and bald tail. Don’t be surprised, you can encounter them anywhere: at home, near your house, in an office, in the field, in the farming building, in the vegetable stocks and grain warehouses. Since this type is more likely to settle near humans, your house will be most interesting for them.
Deer mice are a bit smaller than house ones and are different both in their color and habitat. They have large eyes, and their fur color ranges from grayish to red-brownish, depending on their age. The tummy is usually lighter and you can observe a clear transition between the dark back and the light stomach. They inhabit forests and fields, and thus are more dangerous for your country houses and crops than for the indoors.
We’ll be straightforward: they are very dangerous. Some house owners are used to someone quietly running around in their house and are too lazy to drive out couple annoying rodents, which often behave themselves and don’t distract anyone. This strategy is absolutely wrong, though! Mice cause much harm.
- They consume and contaminate food reserves, they love both human and pet food.
- Their dead skin cells, fur or feces can provoke respiratory diseases and allergy attacks.
- They harm the inside of the house, communication systems and electric circuits.
- Their pee and feces are a source of hazardous bacteria (such as Salmonella) which cause digestion and other diseases.
- The dead mouse smell is awful, of course. If you have a dead mouse already and you can’t drive out stinky smell, don’t be in despair and read our Getting Rid of Dead Rat Smell Easily: 5 Proven Measures article.
The fleas which can often get into your house along with the rodents deserve a separate paragraph. The fleas can easily jump from their host onto other animals or humans and many dangerous diseases can be transmitted through their bites. You’ll find more details in our articles Flea Bites on Humans: How to Identify and Treat Them and How to Kill Fleas.
The mice themselves barely bite humans, as they are more interested in some secluded spots at your house with abundance of food and easy access to water. Like any other creature, they are afraid of becoming dehydrated and die without water quite soon. According to6 one of the Johns Hopkins University lab researches, house mice have an average water consumption rate, “when water is supplied free choice, they usually drink 3-5 ml a day”. If fed dry food only (like dog food), they will die approximately within a fortnight.
Many methods of eliminating the mice resemble those of getting rid of rats, but the devil is in the details, so you have to figure out these details well. Everything turns out to be not as simple as it seemed!
Most of the scientists agree that exclusion & killing via trapping and poisoning are the most effective methods for controlling rodents. We’ll talk about exclusion later as we’ll begin with the poisons.
Poisoning is one of the most effective ways to control pests. Rodent poisons are used for that, and we have observed 5 best ones in our review. The idea of rodent poison baits is pretty much the same: they cause bleeding in the rodent’s body or liver, they make kidneys and other organs dysfunction causing the rodent to die. It will be best if the rodents had unlimited access to the poison, as not all of them will be killed after the first serving. Usually the baits have cumulative effect and kill the rodents within a few days.
Remember that rodents don’t die far from their habitat! That’s why if you are getting rid of them indoors; inspect the rooms daily in search of dead bodies and dispose of them as soon as possible. When decomposing, the bodies exude the terrible dead rodent smell. When necessary, this problem can be solved though, so make sure you study our guide in order to be ready to handle such unpleasant consequences.
Read our details poison review of 5 Best Rat and Mouse Poison Baits
Nowadays, both old school methods of catching the mice, such as snap traps and modern electronic traps are quite popular. The latter show better results, so more people prefer such traps. Electronic traps are considered more humane than good old wooden ones. The main disadvantage of snap traps is that many users complain of having to kill the poor animals trapped there. We think you’ll agree that this is not quite a pleasant thing to do. Meanwhile, when using electronic traps, you won’t encounter such an issue. When a rodent gets inside such a trap, it touches an electrified metal plate and gets electrocuted. As a rule, these device have an indicator which tell you whether the trap is empty or someone is in there.
Useful tip7: Rats and mice have different behavior around new objects. Rats are cautious, and it may be a week before they approach a trap. Mice are curious and will normally approach traps the first night. If you don't catch a mouse in the first few nights, the trap is in the wrong location. To help rats overcome trap shyness, place traps unset, in place, for several days. This allows rats to overcome shyness and results in better catches.
According to8 the Kentucky University, mice are very inquisitive and will investigate each new object placed in their foraging territory. But remember that they hate leaving their nest, so find out where it is and place the traps right there.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Rat Zapper traps. This is an electronic trap best seller. We have covered it in our comparative review of Classic Rat Zapper vs Rat Zapper Ultra Rodent Traps. Which do you think is more efficient against rodents, a best-selling model or its updated version? You’ll find the answer here.
Don’t forget that it is highly unlikely that any mouse will enter an electronic trap willingly! You’ll always need some food bait for it. Use your rodents’ taste preferences as a guide: they can range from dog food to gum and bacon. Through trial and error in the choice of bait for the trap you're sure to destroy those creatures!
If you’re looking for the best way to get rid of mice in the house, we recommend using electronic traps. As you’ll have to be careful when it comes to poisons if you have children or pets. Kids can accidentally try the poison, and the pets can eat the poisoned animals. Most importantly, don’t forget to use bait stations so that your pets can’t reach for the poison.
Another popular method is glue traps, but we don’t advise using it as it is messier and subjects the mice to a slow death due to starvation and injury. You don’t want to listen to the poor mouse squeaking as it can’t get out, do you?
By the way, do you know that they can easily travel inside the walls and barely appear in the living rooms? That’s why you’ll have to lure them out, and for electronic traps use organic baits loved by the rodents. Another argument for electronic traps is that if a mouse is caught in the trap, there is less chance of having dead mouse odor coming from inside the wall. In case of using poison baits you can’t be 100% sure where your mouse will be dead, it might happen in the wall which will be terrible.
Mice in the Attic
If they have settled in your attic, you can use both poison baits and traps. Even if the mouse will die from the poison in your attic, it is unlikely that the putrid smell reaches living room or bedrooms. The smell itself will go away after some time, after the corpse has dried up.
You can pick a trap from several options, read about them in more details in our review: Selecting the Best Rat Trap: Snap, Live Catch & Electronic Rat Traps
If you have decided to poison them, read our 5 Best Rat and Mouse Poison Baits in 2015 review.
But do not forget that even if you managed to turn mice out, it is necessary to close any access to your home for them once and for all! Usually the problem is worsens with the cold weather, i.e. in the late fall and early winter. And your task is not to give these creatures a chance!
In general, all of the following preventive measures and advice can be applied in respect of any rodents which can appear at your place. The only detail is that you’ll have to be more careful and attentive, as the mice are so tiny. Here we go!
- Clean up regularly both indoors and outdoors. Liquidate any sources of standing water or cover them thoroughly so that the rodents can’t reach them. Throw the garbage away, as they can use paper, cotton, pieces of fabric and other things for constructing a nest. When expecting offspring, they can also settle in unused furniture, such as chests and wardrobes.
- Inspect the walls (inside and outside the house), as well as the floors and the entire garage, attic and basement, and look for cracks there. Do you remember that the mouse can fit into a hole of a pencil’s diameter?! Cover all the holes, even the smallest ones, with cement, a sheet of iron or put some copper barriers, such as Copper Mesh 20' Rats, Mice, Birds Control for ~$12.50.
- Provision dens are a separate story. You have to inspect every single inch there, especially in fall and winter, when rodents are hungry and looking for new food sources.
- A cat is not always effective, but a good mouse-catching cat does a huge part of the job, relieving you from an obligation to use other devices.
- Inspect your territory before the mouse season and make sure no mouse nests or shelters have appeared in the grass or shrubs. This simple measure might protect you from the pests’ raids.
- 1 University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources
- 2 The Department of Public Health, LA
- 3 University of Missouri Extension
- 4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- 5 Utah State University
- 6 Johns Hopkins University
- 7 University of Florida
- 8 University of Kentucky College of Agriculture