how to get rid of mice: photo

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. Most of the scientists agree that sanitation, exclusion, trapping and poisoning are the most effective ways to get rid of mice. Here you'll know how to kill rodents using poison baits and traps. Are you ready for the mouse hunt? Let’s start!

Table of Contents:

What You Should Know About Mice

Mice are often confused with rats, their close relatives. No wonder, as they really seem to be similar both in their appearance and behavior. 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.

A mouse is smaller than a rat and can cause more damage.

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”.

Start with sealing cracks and other entry points.

They are known to fit into a crack which is only ¼ inches wide. Since mice are small, 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. 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. Seal all holes and openings for water pipes and vents.

They don’t travel far from their nest. Place traps close to walls.

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”. 

how to eliminate mice: photo

Mice and rats are natural enemies.

When it comes to food and territory, 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.

Mice have keen senses of taste, hearing, smell and touch.

According to3 the Missouri University, mice have keen senses of taste, hearing, smell and touch. So don't forget to wear gloves when setting traps.

Best Ways to Get Rid of Mice: Exclusion & Killing 

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 sanitation, exclusion, trapping and poisoning are the most effective methods for controlling rodents. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages; none of them are 100% effective. You will have to combine several treatments at once. First, clean up the mess, hide any food and seal all cracks to deprive the unwanted guests of food, shelter and access to your place. You can attempt to kick out a settled family if there is one, but they will hardly leave your house willingly. If they don’t, bring into play some traps and poisons.

The Comparative Table of 10 Mouse Control Methods

Method Advantages Disadvantages Effectiveness
Sanitation Once you clean up the mess and debris left in the attic, barn or backyard, you will remove any potential places for building a new mouse nest. Won't eliminate the existing population. 4
Sealing All Entry Points Won't let the mice enter your house. Sealing must be conducted before mouse season opens. Won't eliminate the existing population. 8
Snap And Glue Traps Cheap Mice won't die instantly. You will be able to hear squeaking and watch them try to escape. About a dozen unites are required. 4
Electronic Traps Immediate killing. No mess, no blood. Safe for humans and pets. Is not a cheap method, the prices start at $20. 10
Poison Baits Is not very effective on large lots (warehouses and farms) for mass killing, but is quick. Can be dangerous for small children and pets. 9
Natural Repellents Safe and natural. Mice adapt quickly and are no longer driven away. 2
Electronic Repellers Safe for pets and humans. Mice adapt quickly and are no longer driven away. 2
Mothballs Free Harmful chemicals are extremely dangerous for humans and pets. 1
Cats 100% organic. No dead bodies, cats consume them. Not reliable, a cat might neglect catching mice. 2
Exterminators You needn't worry about buying or doing anything. A very expensive method. Exterminators will set the traps and pour poison but it is you who will have to clean up the dead bodies. 9

Use Poison Baites.

Poisoning is one of the most effective ways to control pests. 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 fighting 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.

Poison Baites: photoFirst and second generation baits are well-known among all poison baits. First generation poisons don’t kill instantly and take some time to accumulate in a rodent’s body. Second generation poisons require a single intake.

Anticoagulants (bromadiolone, chlorophacinone, difethialone, brodifacoum, warfarin) often serve as active ingredients of poisons. They disrupt normal blood flow and cause lethal internal bleeding. Another bait type contains non-anticoagulants (zinc phosphide, bromethalin, cholecalciferol, strychnine). These substances lethally affect the victims’ nervous system, liver, kidneys and other internal organs. Once an organ system fails, the animal dies.

Poison baits are supplied in convenient chunks. These chunks attract mice as the poison is mixed with food-grade products loved by rodents. Sometimes, they are merely aromatized with peanut butter, apples or other favorite treats. This leads to the poison smelling so strongly that the rodents can easily gnaw through the bait container to feast. That is why if you pick proper bait, the issue of making the mice taste the poison won’t even arise.

A Slow-Acting Poison: Tomcat All Weather Bait Chunx (4 lb) for ~$25.15.

If you don’t need to buy a whole bucket of bait, you can opt for poison in smaller packs. It is fast-acting poisons that are usually packed like this. As mentioned earlier, they require a single use and are more reasonably priced than slow-acting ones

A Fast-Acting Poison: Old Cobblers Farnam Just One Bite 16oz. Bait Bar (2 Pack) for ~$14.02

Don’t forget about the bait stations, as they are a matter of safety. Their use is mandatory if you have kids or pets that can accidentally bite the bait set. Remember that there are no pet-safe and child-safe poisons! Moreover, stations are usually handy when used outdoors. These boxes will keep the poison locked inside from everyone but the rodents. Special entry holes have been designed to welcome them!

Read our review of 5 Best Rat and Mouse Poison Baits

How to catch a mouse.

It seems like hundreds of various traps are sold nowadays. Each manufacturer has a “unique” product to offer. Behind the seeming abundance of devices, you can reveal only four types of traps. Classical snap traps (from ~$4.97) are the best-known ones; they are cheap, simple and cause enough pain to their victims. Glue boards (from ~$5) are similar in some way as they hold the pests tight until the mice die of pain and depletion.

How to catch a mouse: photo

The most state-of-the-art killing method involves using electronic devices (from ~$19). They are able to kill mice within just a few seconds, which makes them more humane, clean and effective than other types. For those who find killing unacceptable, special live-catch traps (from ~$9) exist allowing you to catch live animals and set them free.

Enclosed snap traps (from ~$6) were invented for the most sensitive individuals who do not wish to come in contact with the rodents. Their interior is typical and on the outside they resemble small houses or boxes. Such design prevents you from looking at a dead rodent or touching it: just empty it into a trash before re-using.

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, it is in the wrong location. To help rats overcome trap shyness, place it unset, in place, for several days. This allows rats to overcome shyness and results in better catches.7

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.

Electrocute Them. 

Nowadays, both old school methods of catching the mice, such as snap traps and modern electronic rat traps are quite popular. The latter show better results, so more people prefer them. Electronic devices are considered more humane than good old wooden ones. The main disadvantage of snap type 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 mouse killer, you won’t encounter such an issue. When a rodent gets inside, it touches an electrified metal plate and gets electrocuted. As a rule, these device have an indicator which tell you whether it is empty or someone is in there.

Don’t forget that it is highly unlikely that any mouse will enter an electronic device 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 you're sure to destroy those creatures!

There are fewer electronic mouse traps than rat ones. However, the former are as a rule more accessible and compact and can be thus placed anywhere. Victor Mouse Zapper M2524 for ~$20.49 is the best-known one. It can kill a rodent within five seconds which is why many consider it the most humane mice killer. There will be no mess, no blood and no cord is needed as the Victor is powered by four AA batteries. Check its contents regularly as no mouse will enter it if it smells another dead rodent.

Victor Electronic Mouse Trap: photo

Experienced users share a life hack: fill the device with some bait and leave it turned off for a few days in order to lull the rodents’ vigilance. Turn it on after that so as to attract the mice with delicious smells to their last meal. Although customer reviews vary, there are over 2,200 of them on Amazon.comRead all of them to make sure it is worth buying.

Mouse Trap Type Comparative Chart

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Snap  Very cheap Doesn't kill
Live Catch  Humane and cheap

You must take it away and release the mouse

Glue  Cheap

A mouse will squeak and die painfully for several days

Electronic Fast death from high voltage, no blood and mess, catches dozens of rodents per battery change Expensive, do not use outdoors without any waterproof accessories

Say “Yes” or “No” to Natural & Chemical Repellents

Most scientists disapprove of natural treatments and consider them useless as the rodents are too smart, sly and adapt to frightening smells and sounds quickly enough. But some experts think that such treatments might be effective. Fir, cinnamon, cedar, lemongrass and peppermint oils smells are considered to be possible natural mouse repellents.

There is more research concerning chemical repellents. The University of California specialists point out the following when speculating upon rodents related to mice: “Moth balls or flakes (naphthalene) may effectively repel mice from closed areas where a sufficient concentration of the chemical can be attained in the air.” They add that naphthalene, however, is not a registered mouse repellent, just like household ammonia which has a time-limited effect and is not registered with the EPA.

repellent from mice: photo

Taste repellents have an impact on mice. For instance, Ro-pel repellent spray was popular for a long time. According to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln experts, it has long been registered “for use in repelling house mice and other rodents from gnawing on trees, poles, fences, shrubs, garbage, and other objects.” It contains Denatonium benzoate which set the Guinness record for being the bitterest substance ever. Ro-pel is now available in the form of repellent granules (~$11.99), but its effectiveness against house mice has not been scientifically proven as there is too little information available.

If you don’t want to brew a potion out of herbs and essential oils, invest in a ready-to-use organic spray, special pouches or granules by Eco Defense, Earth Kind (Fresh cab), Victor and other manufacturers. The active ingredients of these treatments are the same essential oil mixtures detested by mice. These products are non-toxic, child - and pet-friendly and available at a starting price of $15 Check the current price

Best Way to Get Rid Of Mice in Your House    

If you’re looking for the best way to eliminate 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 boards, 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?

Lure Them Out of the Walls. 

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 devices is that if a mouse is caught, 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.

If the Mice Have Settled 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.

mouse in the attic: photo

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!

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.

Exclusion: Preventing Mouse Infestation.

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!

  • 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 ~$12.99.

how to prevent mice infestation: photo

  • 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. Take away pet food.
  • 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.

Mice Control Products Comparison Chart

Product

Type

Peculiarities

Price

Tomcat All Weather Bait Chunx

Tomcat All Weather Bait Chunx

Poison bait It's a slow-acting poison. There are several days of feeding needed.

~$25.15

Old Cobblers Farnam Just One Bite

Farnam Home & Garden Just One Bite

Poison bait It's a fast-acting poison. A single feeding is enough.

~$13.75

Snap-E

Snap-E Mouse Trap

Snap trap

#1 best selling snap trap

 ~$10.38 (6-pack)

Tomcat

Tomcat Kill and Contain Mouse Trap

Enclosed snap trap

It is lovely and compact, will fit even the least accessible places. Is equipped with a catch indicator

~$7.98

Tomcat

Tomcat Mouse Size Glue Traps

Glue trap

For catching individual rodents. Very sticky.

~$3.99 (4-pack)

Vensmile

vensmile mouse traps

Live-catch trap

Humane pest catching

~$13.99 (2-pack)

Victor Electronic M2524

Victor Electronic Mouse Trap M2524

Electronic trap

Electrocutes mice in 5 seconds, is equipped with a catch indicator.

~$20.49

Ropel Repellent Granules

ropel repellent granules

Repellent granules

Its effectiveness against house mice has not been scientifically proven.

~$11.99

Eco Defense Repellent Pellets

eco defense repellent pellets

Repellent pellets

You may use it both indoors & outdoors. A single pack allows coverage of up to 150 sq ft

~$29.95

Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent

freshcab rodent repellent

Repellent pouches

Works better in poorly ventilated spaces – use it during cold winters.

~$15.86

Eco Defense Repellent

eco defense mice repellent

Repellent spray

#1 best selling rat & mouse natural repellent spray

~$19.95

Copper Mesh 20' Rats, Mice, Birds Control

copper mesh

Copper mesh

Prevention method

~$12.99

When Is Trapping Better Than Poisoning?

Rodenticides are of course simpler, faster and better than traps. You don’t have to regularly check them; you merely wait for the results after having spread the poison. This makes them especially convenient for use on large territories. They contain brodifacoum, chlorophacinone, diphacinone or warfarin. These substances prevent blood clogging making the victim die of internal bleeding. Several poisons lethally affect the rodents’ CNS, kidneys, heart and liver, hence the rodenticides’ biggest drawback in being hazardous for kids and pets. Moreover, the pests will die anywhere and exude an unpleasant putrid smell unless you remove them in time.

Traps are deprived of these disadvantages. If several mice have infected your house, don’t rush to poison them. When there are a few small rodents, try catching them. Set them along the walls where you have seen mice or their life activity traces. Locate a trap perpendicularly to the wall (though some manuals recommend parallel placement).

setting traps in the house: photo

Sticky boards are also effective. When running along a familiar trail, a mouse would suddenly contact a sticky surface from which it cannot escape. If a board gets accidentally stuck to a human or a pet, it can be removed with some vegetable oil.

Electronic devices kill faster with high voltage. No blood. No squeaking. No mess. However, you have to check them more often as no rodent will enter it if it smells like a corpse. Rodents may be mistrustful of a new device. That is why you should keep the device turned off for a few days with the bait inside after you install it. Following this trial period, turn it on boldly and the catch won’t take long.

How to Identify Different Mouse Species?

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.

how to identify mice species: photo

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.

How Dangerous Are Mice?

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.

dead mouse: photo

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.

References

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