Our mouse is a very very very stubborn mouse
December 18, 2009 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Ways to make death more appealing to a stubborn house mouse?

We caught one mouse in a snap trap a few weeks ago using the peanut butter "appetizer" method mentioned in an earlier post. The friend (or friends) it left behind, however, is proving a bit more clever. It is totally uninterested in our other peanut butter-baited snap traps and apparently has not yet succumbed to the poison we put out a week ago (which promised to kill them in five days).

I don't think we have that many mice, and I kind of think there's just the one left. I've only ever seen one at a time, usually every other day or so. I don't find more than a few poops at a time. It somehow hasn't gotten into our food (we check regularly). While we've plugged up as many holes in the walls as we can, it's a really old house that had kind of a half-assed renovation job. There are holes around the heaters, and probably holes behind the fridge and oven that we can't even get to.

So: Is there a way to make our mouse control efforts more effective? I feel like the little bastard's just mocking us at this point. Will putting peanut butter on the poison pellets work? Is there some other food that a picky mouse will love? I'd like to avoid shelling out the cash for something like the rat zapper, especially if our little buddy will ignore it like he's ignoring the snap trap.
posted by oinopaponton to Pets & Animals (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
These tipping traps work like a damn. Just wipe a tiny bit of peanut butter on the end wall.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:10 PM on December 18, 2009

Response by poster: (Not that it really matters that much, but we use these covered mouse traps, because dead mice are gross)
posted by oinopaponton at 5:22 PM on December 18, 2009

I've tried a lot of things but for us, it always come back to snap traps. Other than that, I make sure there's nothing around (empty recycling bottles, crumbs, dirty dishes, etc) that might attract them.

And please don't use the glue traps. They're awful. My roommates put them out a few years ago and I really didn't like coming home and having to find out where the wretched squeaking was coming from and having to finish the job myself. Ugh.
posted by futureisunwritten at 5:23 PM on December 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

I know what you mean about the mocking. At one point, a housemate and I literally stood and watched one mouse walk up to a trap, take the bait off of it, and eat it at us.

Have you tried butter on the traps? In my student house days we had a fair few mice, and nothing worked until we started using butter.

That said, we only ever caught a couple in traps, pretty much every single other one I got by just waiting until one showed itself and then catching it in an empty ice cream container.
posted by lucidium at 5:25 PM on December 18, 2009

Find yourself a relatively narrow-necked bottle and put it down alongside a wall frequented by said rodent, preferably near a corner of the room. Keep the bottle cap nearby. Mice are fairly simple critters, and will sometimes enter such a bottle while having a hard time finding their way out of it. Cap the bottle of the captive mouse and dispose of the little beast at your leisure.
posted by metagnathous at 5:29 PM on December 18, 2009

Thin layer of something melty on a snap trap. Peanut butter sometimes dries up in such a way that the mouse can just lift it up.

Last winter, my husband and I bought a knock-off rat zapper and an official rat zapper and caught exactly 0 mice with them (and I think the mice got into the bag of kibble they included to bait the zappers). Snap traps baited with nutella caught a bunch.
posted by Meg_Murry at 5:30 PM on December 18, 2009

To clarify the above advice, mice will generally follow a wall. Encountering a bottle such as I described they are likely as not to go inside of the thing and then become confused by its transparency. This means that the bottle has to be facing the correct direction as pertains to the direction of travel of the vermin in question. You may have to situate the bottle differently for a couple of nights, but I can tell you that this has worked for me a couple of times and might be worth a shot.

Good luck!
posted by metagnathous at 5:37 PM on December 18, 2009

Last time we had a mouse infestation at a place where I worked, we didn't really start catching any until we sprayed the traps with perfume. (I believe it was an Estee Lauder fragrance, since a co-worker's wife worked there.) With the perfume, pretty much every morning one or two traps (of five) would have a mouse in them.
posted by kindall at 5:41 PM on December 18, 2009

If you go with a snap trap, make sure they have the best access to it from the bait side. We went through many re-baitings until we found that blocking off the spring side yielded the best success rate.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:44 PM on December 18, 2009

As for bait, do not use cheese. It seems to be the easiest thing for them to remove safely. You've tried peanut butter; we also had mice lick this clean without setting off traps. Go with porridge oats, or a bit of sticky chocolate bar (e.g. Mars). For bait, smelly is better.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:47 PM on December 18, 2009

I've had great success with Intruder Better Mouse Traps, loaded with a bit of Snickers candy bar, and placed against a wall. Got four in a week that way, and haven't seen a mouse in a year and half now.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 5:54 PM on December 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

As you I'm sure know, there are country mice, and city mice. Country mice, who may arrive in hoards, if a nearby building or filed is disrupted by construction, will jump into baited traps faster than you can lay them out. Not so with city mice. Don't re-use traps, nor use the same unsuccessful trap for more than a few weeks. I know rats do it, and I believe mice do too: one of the smarter, older mice will tag the trap with a urine marker for the benefit of the noobs.

One particularly savvy little guy started mocking me in the ways you describe, and while this would normally make him a candidate for social acquaintance, this is business and I can't let him erode the value of my real estate, sorry.

So what I did was, in the kitchen I set up a maze, consisting of briefcases, chunks of wood, overturned bowls with one edge propped up, and other features that imagined him exploring every night while I slept. After a week, I started moving or altering one element at a time, changes he would feel compelled to explore. Finally, I blocked the main path, and opened up a new alley around the corner of a previously dead end, and put the trap right there. He stepped on it trying to hide when I came in late that night. It wasn't a bait thing, he got caught on his hind legs running over it.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:00 PM on December 18, 2009 [4 favorites]

The only thing that's ever worked for me are glue traps. As stated above, they're not for the weak-hearted.
posted by gimonca at 6:48 PM on December 18, 2009

Borrow a cat. I give the mouse three days.
posted by musofire at 7:12 PM on December 18, 2009

Borrow a cat. I give the mouse three days.

I wish this was so. We have 2 cats and until recently we were fighting a chronic mouse problem-- every drawer and every cupboard in our kitchen was infiltrated. I spent so much time taking out drawers, washing all the contents, and replacing them. We tried the snap traps but the mouse more often than not got away with the bait (cake crumbs, peanut butter, bits of cracker, dried beans, etc.) We had to use glue traps. They worked, but it was heart-wrenching to find the little guys. I always wrapped them in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer until they died.

The only thing that really worked is taking everything out and sealing up the kitchen storage units with caulking. Haven't seen a single dropping in weeks.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:47 PM on December 18, 2009

Response by poster: I'm so glad I'm not going crazy-- the mouse snuck under my closed door earlier tonight and just stared at me while I was on my computer until I noticed it. I'm going to have a heart attack if this keeps happening. I'll look into new traps this weekend, and until then I'm leaving a delicious mixture of poison pellets and artichoke dip spread out on the floor. Thanks!
posted by oinopaponton at 9:40 PM on December 18, 2009

It's not nice but my ex who has farm fields all around and the mice that go with it swears by getting a plastic cooler, filling it with an few inches of water and smearing the top edge and side with raw bacon. The mice smell the bacon, jump into the cooler to find it and drown.

The snap traps weren't working, the cat didn't know how to catch mice (the dog later showed her how to dig out/kill moles and she's since transfer that knowledge to mice ) but the igloo cooler never failed.
posted by stray thoughts at 11:19 PM on December 18, 2009

I use a variation on the cooler method, it's a bucket or trash can with delectable goodies in the bottom and a ramp to the lip. Or you can place it below a counter they regularly visit. Mice apparently don't think about getting out of buckets before they get in. One drawback to this method is that you may end up with a bucketful of live mice. A few inches of water would probably eliminate that problem as stray thoughts says.

Another surefire method for killing mice is to allow them access to dehydrated animal feed (A&M, chopped alfalfa and molasses made for horses is good). They eat it and explode shortly thereafter. I've never used this on purpose to kill mice, in fact I've tried my darndest to keep them away from it due to an aversion to inside-out-mice. Still I've accidentally killed more mice this way than I've ever done on purpose with traps.
posted by fshgrl at 1:38 AM on December 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Better Mouse Traps mentioned by Pater Aletheias. To get at the bait, the mouse has to step on the trigger, therefore they can't make off with the bait, and you don't get frustrated by it going missing. Also, it has the advantage of working by basically strangling the mouse, rather than trying to snap its neck. So if it goes off while you're handling it, it won't hurt your fingers.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 3:47 AM on December 19, 2009

I've had very good luck with Havahart traps. You don't bait them (well, you can, but it's really unnecessary and adds something to clean). You put them up against the wall where the mouse likes to run. Mice prefer to run through them because they feel safer in the enclosed tunnel. No escape, the trap goes off from either direction. Then you can release them in the wild, or kill them as you see fit. My experience is that the mice typically get caught at night, and it's typically one mouse per night until you've caught them all.
posted by Humanzee at 7:32 AM on December 19, 2009

Bucket traps work well. There are several variation but you can make them with a 5-gallon bucket, a beer bottle and some wire.

Suspend the bottle at its midpoint with wire across the top of the bucket so it "flips" easily, then smear something tasty on the bottle neck.

Make a ramp from a piece of wood so they can get up to the wire suspension.

You can put a few inches of water in the bucket if you don't want to deal with live disposal.

Works like a charm on mice or rats.
posted by Aquaman at 7:33 AM on December 19, 2009

Hair trigger snap traps places strategically such that mice have to walk across them seemed to work quite well for me.
posted by maxpower at 8:58 AM on December 19, 2009

One more thing: We caught a few once we started using sunflower seeds for bait. YMMV (your mice may vary).
posted by futureisunwritten at 10:19 AM on December 19, 2009

Seconding the Havahart traps. They work very well, and as a bonus, there's no dead or dying mouse to deal with. Just take the little guy somewhere and let him go.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:47 AM on December 19, 2009

  1. Acquire one (or more) mousetraps, whole almonds and fishing line.
  2. Drill a small whole through an almond.
  3. Tie the almond TIGHTLY to the bait plate on the trap. It should become an immovable piece of the plate.
  4. Set trap(s) along wall(s).
In order for the mouse to get the bait, it will have to do one of the following:
  • Chew on the tightly secured nut, setting off the trap
  • Chew through the cord, setting off the trap
  • Try to drag the nut away, setting off the trap
In all cases, the mouse's neck is on the snap line. You might also be able to superglue nuts to the bait plate.

I did this the first time after a mouse got into my apartment and licked the peanut butter off the bait plate several nights in a row.
posted by Decimask at 10:58 AM on December 19, 2009

The most humane way to deal with a mouse is to keep it out of your apartment by sealing all cracks with steel wool and joint compound.

Glue traps are inhumane. Releasing a live mouse into the wild seems like it would be humane but it's not. The next best option is neck-snap traps.
posted by turbojav at 12:19 PM on December 19, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks again-- I bought a few new snap traps today and set them with Nutella. We'll see what happens.

And don't worry, I'd never even consider a glue trap. Drowning also seems a little cruel to me. And I live in a really urban area, so there isn't really anywhere I could release mice where they wouldn't just end up in someone else's house.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:11 PM on December 19, 2009

Glue traps are inhumane.

They creep me out, and I won't use them. But sometimes you'll get a live mouse caught in any trap. What I do, and it may or may not be humane, (but myself I'd appreciate the courtesy, ) is to pick up the mouse and trap with a plastic bag, like a glove. Then I close that off, and put it in the freezer. I think I would prefer that to being beaten to death with a high heeled shoe, or worst of all being placed alive still in the trap into a dumpster.

Releasing a live mouse into the wild seems like it would be humane but it's not.

Humane or not, those city mice I'm talking about above will find their
way back from quite some distance.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:52 PM on December 19, 2009

Get some KETCH-ALLâ„¢ snap traps and handle them with gloves at all times. Try baiting the traps but not setting them for two or three days then rebait and set.
posted by Dr.Pill at 4:33 PM on December 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

From the article purporting that releasing mice into the wild is inhumane:

Relocating a mouse introduces the mouse to several issues, including predators and the need to find new housing and food sources. While killing a mouse with a trap seems cruel, it may be more humane to grant the mouse a quick death rather than slow death through starvation or at the paws of a predator.

I don't live in a world where allowing a wild predator to catch and eat a wild mouse is inhumane. In that imaginary world, all predators apparently either deserve to starve to death, or magically begin eating grass and honey (donated by altruistic wild bees).

However, the risk of the mouse coming back to your house is great, unless released at a distance. They are fairly good at tracking down warmth and food, which they've already found in your house.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:10 PM on December 20, 2009

« Older My Goose Is (not) Cooked!   |   Holiday Recommendations for Denver? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.