During the fall and winter months, mice will try to find their way indoors in search of food, warmth, and shelter. Mice can not only eat away at walls and destroy boxes of food in kitchen cabinets, but they can also wreak serious havoc on your home and personal health – they gnaw on wires, carry a multitude of bacteria, and can make diseases worse. allergies and asthma for anyone living in the house.
Before you take any precautionary measures, it’s important to know how to spot mouse droppings, often the first indicator that you have rodents in your space. Mouse droppings look like dark grains of rice, about a quarter of an inch long. Rat droppings tend to be wider and longer – around half an inch in length. Trails of tiny shit granules are a major sign that you have mice, but they’re not the only thing to watch out for: scan your pantry for any debris on the shelves or signs of gnawing on food cans.
If you see a mouse, there are certainly others lurking somewhere in your house. Simply put, if one mouse can find a way in, others can – and will – as well. In addition, they multiply very quickly.
Just like cockroaches and other pests, it’s best to be proactive in deterring mice in the first place. But even with all the precautions in place, mice can slip through the cracks – literally. Once you’ve detected the signs that you have unwanted guests in your home, follow this step-by-step guide to eliminating mice as quickly and painlessly as possible.
- 1 How to get rid of mice
- 2 Mouse traps that quickly kill mice
- 3 How to prevent mice from entering your home
- 4 Mouse repellents Amazon shoppers swear by
How to get rid of mice
Once you notice mouse droppings or eaten boxes of food, act quickly to get rid of the mice before they cause further damage.
Find their point of entry.
Before setting any traps or bait, do a little detective work. “Find out where they’re coming from because placing random traps all over your basement won’t do you any good,” says Cindy Mannes, spokesperson for the National Pest Management Association. Do your best to determine where mice live and build nests, then place your traps around these general areas.
Set up mousetraps.
Mouse traps remain one of the most effective ways to get rid of mice that are already wreaking havoc indoors. Stick mousetraps in the most vulnerable areas of your home, such as along walls and behind garbage cans. There is a range of mousetraps to choose from, all varying in cost, function and design. Choose from the following mouse traps:
- Snap Traps: By far the most common type of mousetrap, this quick trigger system catches mice in their tracks. When used correctly, these mousetraps kill mice quickly, making them an effective way to eliminate an entire population. There are different types of pressure traps, including bar, clam, and hidden destruction.
- Electric traps: These mousetraps lure mice into the chamber before electrocuting them with lethal electric shocks. Don’t worry, they are specially designed to keep humans and animals from being shocked.
- Sticky traps: Not quite as high-tech as the other options, the mice stick to a board of tacky glue until you release them (or kill them). It can only be used once, making them less effective than the other options.
- Live capture traps: Similar to those used for large mammals, these traps catch, but do not kill, mice. This is a specific type of chamber or cage with a trigger activated door, which will not reopen until you release the captured rodent.
With the exception of sticky traps, all mouse traps require some type of bait. Peanut butter is by far the most common bait, but you can also use chocolate, cheese, bird seeds, or nuts to lure mice into the trap.
Empty the garage.
Cars are just as attractive to mice as houses. “If they walk into the garage, they might just decide to live under the hood of your car, where the engine is nice and warm,” Mannes warns. Once they start to chew on wires, they can seriously damage your car. Set up a few mousetraps in your garage to eliminate any unwanted pests.
When all else fails, call an exterminator.
Everyone has a different threshold of what they are willing to endure until they seek help. If you find yourself needing a professional, ask your friends and neighbors if they have any exterminator recommendations, whether you are looking for someone who can do the job efficiently or who offers a more human approach.
“Ask if they’re state licensed and if they’re members of a state or a national association,” Mannes says. “These people usually take the time to be properly accredited and they learn the latest treatment techniques.”
How to prevent mice from entering your home
After you’ve removed all of the mice roaming your home, go through this list to make sure they – and all other rodents, for that matter – come back.
Use putty and steel wool to seal the house.
Once you’ve dealt with the infestation indoors, you’ll want to make sure that no additional mice can find their way. Mice can fit through penny-sized openings. Even if a hole doesn’t start out that big, rodents will find their way to make the opening larger. The good news: “They can’t eat through caulk and steel wool,” Mannes says. “Pay close attention to where the pipes enter the house and along the basement foundation. Make sure to replace the weatherstripping, and make sure you have shielded your vents and openings in your chimneys.
Prune shrubs away from your home.
The shrubs and branches essentially invite mice and insects into your home. Cut their freeway to the house by cutting the shrubs from the outside of your house. Be sure to keep piles of firewood at least 20 feet away from the house, as mice like to nest in piles.
Take their food.
In cold weather, mice seek warmth and a constant food supply. Since a messy, crumb-filled kitchen is their paradise, try to keep your kitchen shelves, cabinets, and counters clean, even by storing unsealed foods in airtight containers to limit their access. The same goes for pet food: try not to leave food in a cat or dog bowl all day because it will attract rodents.
Mice will also munch on paper and cardboard products, so it’s best to throw away or recycle any excess food packaging during your weekly kitchen cleaning.
Seal your trash can.
Like insects and other pests, mice are also attracted to garbage cans. For a mouse-proof trash can, opt for a box that has a tight-fitting lid or use rubber cords to keep it closed.
Take out the essential oils.
While Mannes argues that home remedies aren’t the best way to get rid of mice, there’s no harm in trying natural deterrents. Some claim that the smell of peppermint and clove oil repels mice. Soak cotton balls with these essential oils and stick them in areas that frequently attract mice like drawers, cabinets and entryways. Or if you’d rather go for a plug-and-play option, choose one of these natural mouse deterrents.
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