Having mice in your home is both a health hazard and nuisance. After invading your living space, they will eventually cause damage to property, create a mess, and produce bad smells. Additionally, getting rid of these creatures can be challenging especially if you’re not familiar with the methods of eradicating and repelling them from your home.
Although repelling mice from your home often involves the use of dangerous chemicals and poisons (which you might not be too keen on if you have pets or young children), there are also simple and effective ways of getting rid of rodents without the use of toxic substances.
The first thing you need to do in controlling and repelling rodents in the house is to identify the type of mice present in your home. Once you identify them and study their habits, it will become much easier to choose the best approach for controlling and eradicating the mice.
The most common type of mouse found in an urban environment is the House Mouse. However, the Deer and White Footed Mice are more common in rural areas. Let us look at how to recognize them and their habits so that you can know where they hide and how to control them.
- The House Mouse
The house mouse is small and slender and measures about 1 to 2 inches (head and body) when fully grown. It has large ears, a pointed nose, small eyes and a tail equivalent to the combined length of the head and body. The color of its fur varies but is usually light gray or brown and can be of darker shades.
The adult mouse weighs about an ounce to 1 ounce and can be distinguished from young rats by the size of the head and the hind legs. They emit a strong musky smell that can help identify them.
House mice prefer to feed on seeds, grains, sweets, and almost anything they can find. They do not require much water because they get it from their food. You’re likely to find a large population of mice in farms and granaries, where they can normally be found eating stored seeds and grains.
House mice will multiply rapidly where food, water, and shelter are available. They become sexually active in just two months after birth and can produce about eight litters of mice in one year. Each litter can contain 4-7 mice pups.
In city surroundings, house mice may spend their whole life in buildings, basements or garages.
In rural or suburban environments, mice are found outside. They seek shelter or hiding places in the bushes, weeds, crawl spaces, near foundations, in burrows, or in debris around structures.
Mice can live off on grain, insects, and weeds. As winter approaches, their food supply becomes less, so they migrate indoors to live nearer a source of food. They may nest in ceilings, walls, within upholstery, under appliances, storage boxes and various other places within the house.
House mice nibble on food the whole day and can eat 10 to 15% of their weight. They also have two main meals time, just before dusk and before dawn. Rodents can also hide and store their food. Mice are visible during the day but are mostly active during the night. Their droppings are rod shaped, 1/8 to 1/4 inch long.
They are excellent climbers and can run up rough vertical surfaces as well as run horizontally on ropes or wire cables, and are capable of jumping 13 inches from the floor onto a flat surface. House mice can gnaw and make clean holes 1 to an inch in diameter. They like to gnaw on paper or boxes and use such materials to make their nesting places.
By observing mouse droppings, mouse tracks and fresh gnawing, you can locate where mice have been active. They make their nests out of shredded paper, cardboard or fibrous material in hidden and sheltered places.
- The Deer Mouse and White- Footed Mouse
The deer and white footed mice closely resemble each other in appearance and have a length of about 6 inches from head to tail. The fur can range from pale to brown with a darker upper body usually in two colors and a white underside. They’re larger than the average house mouse and build their nests outdoors.
While these mice feed on fruits, seeds, and grains, they’re also omnivorous. This means they can eat plants as well as meat, and in general feed on almost anything they can find. Deer and White footed mice will even eat each other when they do not have anything else to feed on.
Both the deer and white-footed mice are found in rural areas and they seldom enter homes or buildings. However, they may enter storage sheds, garages, trailers and homes during the cold season.
The mice breed during spring and summer months and mostly build their nests underground. Nests are located in cavities around tree roots stumps or shrubs, beneath rocks, logs or boards, in cracks inside soil, within burrows they make or in abandoned burrows and tunnels built by other animals.
Above ground, their nests can be located in tree hollows, fence posts, old bird or squirrel nests, piles of wood, or in discarded equipment and furniture.
Deer and white footed mice are active during the night and are the main carriers of the Hantavirus and ticks that cause Lyme disease. Hantavirus can lead to Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which can cause death. It spreads through contact with the urine and droppings of infected mice.
Mouse Control Methods
Mice can breed and multiply quickly where they find food, shelter and water. In addition, these pesky rodents tend to cause damage by biting through boards and electrical wiring in your house. What’s more, they are carriers of other pests that spread diseases. Mice are difficult to get rid of once they establish themselves in your home. This is why you need to act fast once you detect their presence in your home.
You can control mice by using simple home methods, traditional ways of trapping mice, or by using chemicals and poisons. In order to succeed, you’ll need to know how to apply these methods:
The best methods of controlling mice in your home naturally without having to kill them or use toxic chemicals is by warding off the mice or creating barriers to seal holes and cracks they use to enter your home.
Here are tips on how to go about both of these endeavors:
Discouraging Mice Invasion Naturally
This is perhaps the best and easiest method, as it does not require the use of chemicals that can be harmful to children or pets. Below are the simple things you should do to discourage mice from invading your home.
- Keep Your Home Clean
Mice enter homes in search of food. If there’s nothing to eat, they’re unlikely to stay and will move elsewhere in search of food. Storing all food in airtight containers or in places mice cannot reach and keeping your home clean so that there are no spills around will help discourage mice from invading your home.
- Apply Peppermint Oil
Mice cannot stand the smell of peppermint oil and will not go near it. The smell of peppermint oil also masks the scent of any food particles missed while sweeping the house. You can get peppermint oil from some grocery or health food stores. The best part about this method is that many people find the scent of peppermint pleasant. As such, the oil will leave your home smelling fresh. Apply peppermint oil as follows:
- Put one or two drops of peppermint oil on several cotton balls.
- Place the cotton ball swabs near your garbage can to prevent mice from getting into it.
- You can also leave the cotton balls in areas where you think mice will enter your home like doorways, ventilation holes, basements, attics, crawl space etc.
- Replace the cotton balls after 5 to 7 days depending on the quantity of oil you put on them.
- You can try growing peppermint plants near your entryway or compound to use for cooking and repelling mice.
- Get a Cat
A house cat can help keep mice away especially one that spends time outdoors. Cats that go outdoors usually hunt for their food and are more likely to track mice in the house. Well- fed indoor cats will probably just play with the mouse, get bored, and let it go. Note that not all cats have interest or enough energy to hunt mice.
If you do not have a cat, you can use cat waste and place it at the entrance of the house to deter mice. The mice will smell cat urine and run away.
A cat may not be effective where there’s a large mice presence, and other means are necessary to eliminate the mice before you introduce a cat.
- Use Commercial Organic Deterrents
They are many companies that make organic garden and home products, as well as mice repellents that are safe for the environment. Most of these products use natural ingredients that repel mice. You can get these mice repellents from local gardening centers, agro-chemical retailers or through an online search.
- Put Trash Cans Far From Your Home
Mice are attracted to the smell of garbage in your house. It’s better to keep your trash- cans far from your house to reduce the chances of mice entering your home.
- Build a Nest to Attract Birds Of Prey
You can build a shelter box on your property to attract birds and chances are you might attract a wild bird of prey that eats mice to your shelter. Barn owls are the best and a family of these birds can eat many mice during the night. Make sure the nest is well constructed and devoid of nails or other safety hazards for the birds.
- Use an Ultrasonic Sound Device
There are electric ultrasonic sound devices that emit a beeping sound that repels mice. They’re available in your home improvement stores or you can shop online for them. Keep in mind though that these units have the following shortcomings:
- They work on a single line of sight so you need to know the path the mice take to set them up.
- The units may only be useful for a short time because the mice can become used to them.
You can seal all the entry points that mice use to gain entry into your home and keep them away by doing the following:
- Find the Entry Points
You can find the entry points by looking for greasy stains and feces that mice leave near an entry point. They also leave a characteristic smell on the trails they use that can help trace their entry points. Once you find the entry points, mark the entry point with caulk or marker so that you can easily find it latter.
- Block Holes in Interior Walls
Start by blocking holes in the interior wall of the house. It’s better to leave holes on the exterior walls open so that mice can find a way out of your house once you seal the interior wall. Proceed as follows:
- Use caulk or spackle to seal small holes or patch bigger holes with plaster or drywall.
- Make sure there are no cracks and gaps on floor boards, ceilings, roof, or drainage pipes connections on walls so that mice cannot squeeze through.
- It is important to leave the outer wall holes open to give mice that maybe trapped within the walls a chance to escape before sealing the exterior entry holes. For that to work though, you will have to draw them out with any of the natural repellents mentioned in this guide.
- Seal Exterior Entry Points
Once the interior walls are sealed, use green kitchen pads or scouring pads and fill holes on the exterior walls. Steel wool is often used but it can rust and therefore is not a permanent solution. Walls that harbor mice may need special repairs such as tuck-pointing to seal off any openings.
- Check Entry Points Again
Check the holes you have sealed after a few days and look for more holes and evidence of continued mice activity. Seal again if necessary and conclude by doing the following:
- Clean the area around the sealed entry points, remove any feces and disinfect to get rid of any smell. Use one part bleach and ten parts water to clean up.
The first thing people do when they want to get rid of mice in their homes is to try using mousetraps. Mousetraps are a tried and proven way of eliminating mice from your home. The two main traditional types of traps in the market are the snap trap and the sticky trap.
The snap trap works when a mouse goes for bait. Movement on the trap triggers a powerful spring mechanism that snaps a wire down, breaking the mouse’s back. The mouse will either, die instantly or a slow and painful death depending on where the snap wire lands on its body.
In sticky traps, the mouse runs into the trap sticks and is unable to move, and may rip off its fur and skin as it struggles to escape. It will die slowly of dehydration or starvation.
In order for both of these traps to be effective, you must put them in places where mice frequent or near where they live.
There are other more humane ways of trapping mice, like live traps where the mouse is captured alive and latter set free. We shall discuss some of these methods that appeal to people who prefer humane ways of trapping mice.
- Commercial Live-Catch Trap
There are various types of live catch traps. The most common is the commercial live-catch trap that allows you to trap mice in a box. This is what you need to do once you catch a mouse with this trap:
- You should release the mouse at least 1 mile (1.6 km) from your house, preferably in a wooded area where it can find somewhere else to go.
- Homemade Humane Trap
This trap uses a glass bowl, a coin, and some chocolate or any other suitable bait. You need to overturn the glass bowl with bait stuck on the interior then balance it at an angle on the edges of a large coin and leave in an area where mice roam. You can then expect the following to happen:
- The mouse will enter the bowl, attempt to reach the chocolate, and upset the delicately balanced bowl and coin. Alternatively, the bowl will fall and trap the mouse in.
- When either of the two scenarios unfolds, remove the bowl with the mouse trapped in it. Take the mouse far from the house and release it.
- Lure Mouse into a Container
Set up a 10 gallon (37.9 liter) aquarium and put some food in it. Place the aquarium in an area where mice pass or frequent and block their path so that they cannot avoid the aquarium. Place some object the mice can crawl up, like a stack of books, next to the aquarium. Expect the following to happen:
- The mice should try to crawl up the aquarium to get the food and fall in. Once inside the mice will be unable to crawl up the high aquarium walls.
- Check the trap from time to time and put a lid if you find a mouse trapped inside.
- Remove the aquarium and release the mouse far from your house.
Other Trap Methods
Other trap methods involve the use of electricity or batteries to give the mouse an electric shock and kill it instantly. The trap works by luring the mouse into a box or enclosed space then zapping it with a powerful electric shock. This type of trap is expensive and uses batteries which you need to keep on buying.
Choosing to use poison as a means of getting rid of mice in your home is a controversial and personal decision. The poisons work by dehydrating the mice and some people feel it is a cruel way of killing mice. Mice carry diseases and are a health hazard. Should you decide to use poison to kill mice in your home, then make sure to take the following precautions.
- Always place the mouse bait in safe and sealed containers.
- Put the bait stations in places where mice are likely to hide like under cabinets, behind refrigerators, and so on.
- Use the poison bait only in the house and not outside, as pets and other animals might accidentally eat it.
- Always wear gloves when handling poison bait and wash your hands afterwards.
- Store the bait and containers in a safe place where children and pets cannot reach.
Other Methods of Getting Rid of Mice
There are several additional methods you can resort to when trying to rid your home of mice. For instance, you can try the use of household products with strong smells such as moth balls, fabric softeners sheets, and ammonia .There are also commercial mice repellents that are designed to repel mice and are safe to use around children and pets. You can also seek the help of a professional mouse exterminator if all your efforts to expel mice fail.
- Moth Balls
If you have mice already living in the house, this method will not be very effective as moth balls work best at preventing mice from entering your house. The idea is to put moth balls in an open container and place them in areas where mice enter your house. The smell of moth balls will repel the mice and prevent them from entering your home.
Moth balls are toxic. Therefore, they should be kept away from children and pets. You can place them in a secure container with a lid and punch holes on it, like an empty pill bottle or a mason jar with an aluminum lid. Make sure the holes are large enough to let the smell out.
You can get moth- balls from your local hardware store or retailers who deal with chemical products.
Much like moth balls, Ammonia gives off a strong smell that fends off mice. You can use ammonia in the same way as moth- balls except this time you place the repellent in a glass or jar near areas where mice are coming into or going out of the house.
Be careful not to leave it where children and pets can get to it, as ammonia can be harmful to them.
Ammonia is also good for cleaning areas where mice have been living, or to remove the smell of their dropping and to wipe the smell on the trail that mice use. You should never mix ammonia with bleach, as this will cause a toxic chemical reaction that emits dangerous fumes.
- Fabric Softener Sheets
Mice cannot stand the smell of fabric softeners. You can squeeze containers used to hold the fabric softener and use them to keep mice at bay. Once laid flat, fabric softener containers can easily go into small spaces such as cracks, between shelves, at the bottom of cabinets and wall interiors. Alternatively, use the containers to line your trash- can and keep mice away.
- Commercial Solutions to Repel Mice
There are quite a number of tried and tested products in the market that are safe to use around children and pets. Commercial mice repellents usually come with specific instructions on how to use them, the right amount to utilize, and how often to apply, making it easier for you to get the best results. They come in the form of packed pouch boxes with natural blends of plant fibers and oils that give out an unbearable smell for mice but pleasant for humans. Other repellents come in the form of granules made from organic natural oils that irritate the nervous system of rodents and keep them away from your house. Such products can also repel all sorts of rodents such as moles, squirrels, chipmunks, shrews, etc. The granules can be sprinkled on the ground outdoors or put in pouches for indoor use.
- Consult an Exterminator
When all the methods listed above fail to produce lasting results, try to enlist for professional pest control services. An exterminator will be able to use a range of natural and chemical solutions to get rid of a mice infestation in your home. Trained exterminators also have the experience and know where mice are likely to make their nests.
How to Remove Mice from Walls
Mice are capable of living in hidden spaces within the house like attics, air ducts, crawl spaces, lofts, and wall interiors. A mouse can squeeze through a hole or crack the size of a small coin and fit into small openings in floors, foundations, and walls.
Evidence of Mice in the Walls
If you hear sounds like tiny feet running up and down or gnawing and clawing sounds coming from the interior of your walls, then you most likely have mice living behind those walls.
Other signs of a mice infestation include mouse droppings, tracks, and holes in the walls, floors, ceiling and foundations. Mice can also cause damage to wooden surfaces, containers and bags where food is kept. They leave bite marks that prove their presence in the house.
How to Get Mice Out of Walls
Mice living within walls exhibit nocturnal behavior. That means they rarely leave their nests during the day but emerge in search of food at when it is dark. That is when you can capture or kill them with properly placed traps. You can also lure mice out of the walls by using food baits as follows:
- Position snap traps along the bottom edge of walls you suspect mouse movement. Mice usually run along the edges of walls when they move from room to room.
- Place the food bait facing the wall along mice passageways or next to small holes or cracks in the base of the wall.
- Do not use poison as bait as mice could retreat into the wall and die leaving a bad smell that could be difficult to remove. Peanut butter as bait is ideal for the task.
Killing Mice in Walls
It’s important to prevent mice from spreading further in your house once you have evidence of their presence in your walls. You can use all the above method of trapping mice in addition to the following way of killing mice in your walls.
- Drill a hole in the wall the size of a small coin a few inches above the floor.
- Put a food scented mice trap bait in a cardboard box with a hole the same size as the one in the wall.
- Cover the box with transparent cellophane and secure it against the hole in the wall. The cardboard box hole should be next to the small opening you created on the wall.
- Check through the transparent cellophane for any trapped mouse after an hour, remove the mouse and dispose if any.
- Repeat this process until there are no more mice in the wall.
- Seal the hole in the wall with sealant and continue to check for mice in your home.
Prevention is better than cure and appearance of mice in your home can be prevented by observing a few simple hygienic and sanitation practices. Mice will only invade your home if they can find a way in, get a source of food, and left to go about their business. Here are few tips on how to keep mice away from your home.
- Examine all entrance and exit doors in your home, granary or business premises. See to it that the doors fit snugly to the threshold and frame.
- If an ordinary pen can fit under the door construct a threshold to prevent mice from penetrating the house.
- Check all the rooms, floors, ceilings, walls, attic, basement, or roof crawl spaces for holes because mice can squeeze through small openings the size of a coin.
- Close any holes with green kitchen pad or copper pad then apply sealant or cement.
- Put some mousetraps around the house as an added precaution in case mice are able to penetrate the house again.
If you live in an area infested by mice, take measures to prevent mice from entering your house. It will save you time and money for it is much easier to prevent mice from entering your home than expelling them once they are inside.