What is the best method for repelling mice?
January 2, 2005 7:33 AM   Subscribe

What is the best method for repelling mice? I don't want to trap them, I don't want to poison them, I just want them to move on.

We're trying to be very careful about cleaning up the kitchen and we have several ultrasonic things, but these guys are just fearless. We have a dog too, and she'd eat a cat before the cat could have any effect on the mice.
posted by spaghetti to Home & Garden (20 answers total)
Best answer: Bung up holes with wire wool, keep foodstuffs in sealed containers, use humane traps.
posted by the cuban at 8:17 AM on January 2, 2005

You might be surprised at how well your dog could learn to get along with a cat. When faced with a similar situation (horrific mouse infestation), we ultimately adopted a cat from an animal shelter, and our fierce Chow Chows were totally in love with him inside of a month.

BTW, we did the plugging holes, storing food, sealing up garbage stuff, as well as setting traps. Nothing worked.

The cat had the problem totally under control in very short order. A mouse would have to be suicidal to come into our place.
posted by enrevanche at 8:27 AM on January 2, 2005

Gotta third the cat advice, though I know it's not what you want to hear. A friend just moved out of my building because the rampaging flood of mice was too disgusting for her. Immediately upstairs from her, we've seen exactly one mouse, one time -- and it was hanging out of my cat's mouth. (And this is a cat who has successfully had both pit bulls and big labs introduced into the house without bloodshed, though with some extended, month-long very careful introduction and acclimation.)
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:33 AM on January 2, 2005

If you can't handle a cat, how about another dog? Scottish Terriers have traditionally been used to control vermin. They can be stubborn little things, but they are quite cute.
posted by pookzilla at 8:56 AM on January 2, 2005

Yet another vote for a cat. Cats and dogs can and do get along quite well, regardless of hype to the contrary.

My own cat has tamed a pitbull, a border collie [who kept trying to 'herd' her], a black lab, a lhasa apso and a pekinese.

She also keeps all varmints out of the house including mice, lizards [!], moths and some small children.
posted by kamylyon at 9:00 AM on January 2, 2005

Perhaps try a different brand of ultrasonic thingy? When I had nightly visits from a mouse in my old house, we plugged in one of those and the mouse was never seen again.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:23 AM on January 2, 2005

enrevanche -- Just wanted to say that I loved your story (and the picture on your blog of the Mousinator in front of the computer).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:15 AM on January 2, 2005

My cat hides under the bed when she sees a mouse. But we have had good success with a bucket trap, plans here and here. You don't have to put water in the bucket, leave it empty and it becomes a live trap. Put the lid on and take the mice for a nice long walk somewhere.
posted by LarryC at 10:22 AM on January 2, 2005

As LarryC has pointed out, all cats are not mousers. Or in enrevanche's case: mousenators.

I suffered a really really really bad mouse infestation in 190something house that I owned a few years ago. My two very big cats did nothing. One would just lay on the floor and watch the mice run through my house. The other would occasionally play with one, if it ran close enough to get caught.

I plugged up all the cracks in the foundation with steel wool. I put out traps. I did everything short of putting out poison.

My solution? I sold the house.

I'm just telling you this so that if you do decide to get a cat to tackle the problem, the cat may not be a mouser. And then what will you do with it? Just something to consider.

A friend of mine had a mouse infestation so bad that the mice got in her toaster. She found this out one morning when her toaster jumped off the counter while she was making toast. Yuck! She hired a fumigator and actually had to move out while the problem was tackled. Is this an option for you?
posted by Juicylicious at 10:37 AM on January 2, 2005

Juicylicious -- One shouldn't get a fat, languid, long-haired, puss such as the two non-producers you clearly had. One must go to the pound, and look for a lean, mean mousing machine. A trim, striped, long-legged cage-pacer, with a bright, alert gleam in his or her eyes is your best bet.

By the way, ultrasound pest repellers: Bogus. You may have an ultrasound pest repellent in operation, and your pests may disappear, but the two phenomena will not be related.
posted by Faze at 11:04 AM on January 2, 2005

Cats only know how to hunt if their mother teaches them. So, if the mother was an indoor cat or otherwise never learned how to hunt, the kit will be a non-mousinator as well. Appearance may not necessarily be a good indicator - Faze's system is more a case of us projecting our own prejudices onto the animal and has little to do with the actual behavioral history of that critter. A fat, languid cat may just be full of yummy mice and taking a digestion break.
posted by matildaben at 11:22 AM on January 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

I've heard that mint leaves/plants/oil do a very good job at deterring mice. My father-in-law and brother-in-law have had great success with Pestchaser and other electronic (plug in outlet) pest repellant.
posted by bkdelong at 12:23 PM on January 2, 2005

mice don't move on ... my suggestion is that you get over your scruples and get some traps ... peanut butter, or peanut butter based cereal or crackers are a better bet than cheese

well fed cats are often less inspired to hunt ... and the only cats you can be certain about are ones who've had to forage for themselves to survive
posted by pyramid termite at 3:15 PM on January 2, 2005

well fed cats are often less inspired to hunt ... and the only cats you can be certain about are ones who've had to forage for themselves to survive

I'm sorry, but the instincts for hunting and eating are separate. (Here's one site found via Google.) Keeping your cat poorly fed will just make your cat sick, and a worse mouser for the wear. This is not a very nice thing to do, even if it did work. On the other hand, my mom's two well-fed cats are constantly killing insects at sight, and the few times a mouse is seen, he's seen no more.

This may sound strange, but could you *borrow* a cat? Depending on the nature of your mouse infestation, the mere smell of cat's urine can sometimes fix the problem. We used to have mice in our ground floor apartment, but we found after cat-sitting for a friend's fat, lazy, declawed cat that the mice had all run away. Just his litterbox frightened them off. (Related: it's my understanding that in psychological tests on rats, they use the scent of cat urine to induce terror.)

Now we have an alley kitten, and nothing a mouse could eat on the ground, so the problem's beat for good. And! We have a kitten now, so we win all around.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:41 PM on January 2, 2005

I've tried the little plastic live mouse traps, I have never actually caught a mouse in one of them. They seem to not trip them, they just regard it as a snack on the way to other mouse business.
Mice always stick to the same trails, usually next to the walls, be sure to put whatever you use in their path or they may ignore it completely.
The bucket thing without water looks like a good idea. Remember a pissed off mouse has no gratitude, and will chew a hole in your finger if they get the chance.
All the best mouse bait involves peanut butter. One good choice is to roll a tiny dab of it in "sterilized hemp seeds", a product available from pet stores in the belief it makes canaries sing. Finding substitutes for this product is left as a trivial exercise for the reader.
Another really good mouse bait is the heads off of fresh carnations, throw away the green sticks. Ask a nearby florist, after they quit laughing, they won't usually charge you for the broken heads.
If all attempts to trap them live fail, try to remember they are not an endangered species. A mature adult mouse can produce roughly a gazillion offspring in her life if uninterrupted, and her friends will raise the orphans if she is. While I applaud and share your altruistic motives, remember if they get out of hand before you get a grip on the problem, you may have to escalate the war to avoid being completely over-run.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 4:12 PM on January 2, 2005

I have three cats. We live in a rural area, and every fall, the field mice move in. The scent of cats in a house do not necessarily mean that the mice stay away. Two of my cats are mousers, one is not. But the mice rarely come out into the living area, they stay in the walls, where they sometimes die. And stink. I recommend impenetrable brick houses. In lieu of that, the snap-traps baited with cheese or peanut butter are most effective.
posted by kat at 5:55 PM on January 2, 2005

um, i wasn't suggesting that people starve their cats to make them better mousers ... it might work with some cats, but not all, and wouldn't be right anyway
posted by pyramid termite at 5:10 AM on January 3, 2005

Cats only know how to hunt if their mother teaches them.

Our cat is an adopted stray, with no mother to teach him anything. He was very young when he was found by a crazy cat lady*. We picked him up specifically for our mouse problem (very old house), and he hasn't disappointed. He took out two mice in one day last week, after an electrician left a large hole in the wall.

He also takes care of flies, crickets, etc. Unfortunately, he also tries to get into the fish tank on a daily basis.

*We adopted the cat from a small organization that wanted us to sign away everything in order to take him home. Among the more interesting things in the contract were clauses that stated we didn't own the cat, the cat could be taken back at any time, and the organization could come into our house at any time if they felt the cat was being mistreated. There was also a very long paragraph about de-clawing, comparing it to amputation. No comment on how we got around actually signing this contract, but it took some doing.
posted by bh at 8:20 AM on January 3, 2005

my welsh corgi has only recently learned to be a good mouser. who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
posted by norm at 10:09 AM on January 3, 2005

LarryC, I first saw those bucket traps in a house in Iraq. The family had used the ubiquitous rectangular vegetable oil containers as their bucket, probably about five liters in size.

In the bottom of the bucket was some water and about two dozen mice, many still swimming. The family didn't seem to mind, but as has been mentioned, a bucket with no water and a long walk would do just as well.

Although... cats can find their way home. Can mice?
posted by cactus at 11:52 AM on January 3, 2005

« Older Selling photography books online?   |   iPod case Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.