On not subletting to rodents
December 2, 2010 6:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to leave my apartment empty for nearly a month. How do I keep mice from squatting there?

I'm not that worried about theft, but my next door neighbor had a mouse problem last year, and I'm worried about the same. The place is very porous, I know I won't be able to find and plug up all the cracks in time, and the animal sentries who run regular perimeter patrols will be away and off duty too.

A co-worker suggests plain old-fashioned traps, baited with peanut butter. My concern is that baited traps will lure otherwise uninterested mice inside. I'd much rather they stay outside in the first place.

On the other hand, if they're likely to come in anyway, mostly for warmth, I'd rather catch them before they make nests in my sweaters.

How likely is it that mice will take advantage of a month-long window to move in, given that the kitchen will be clean and no food will be accessible? Also, are there reliable repellents?

I'm in the Bay Area, if that makes a difference.

(Asking anonymously because after all I guess I am a little worried about theft, too, and don't want to advertise my empty place.)
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If your traps are successful, you will come home to decomposing mouse in the house. That's not going to smell good.

Can you put your sweaters in lidded storage bins? Mice aren't likely to bother trying to chew through a Rubbermaid if there's no scent of food. Toss a few cedar blocks in there and you'll keep the moths away too.
posted by jamaro at 6:54 PM on December 2, 2010

No food being accessible means absolutely EVERYTHING needs to be sealed in hard containers. No unopened boxes of pasta, no bags of flour, nothing. Papers should be secured somewhere not on the floor in cardboard. If it were me, I would put poison bait (the little d-Con bait wedges have always worked for me) by exterior doors, under my sink, and by any other convenient entrances you can think of and be done with it.
posted by Night_owl at 6:55 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

(I live in Utah, so the humidity is much lower, but) in my experience, mice are so small, they smell from a trap in the open is negligible. Poison, while effective, can lead to decomposing micen in smaller spaces where they can't dry out.
posted by BleachBypass at 7:11 PM on December 2, 2010

Perhaps put some dishes of mothballs about the place, and close all the windows, sealing everything so that the place is effectively being fumigated for a month. This will keep EVERYTHING out - even thieves need to be able to breath :)

The downside is that when you get back, it'll be hours (with all the windows open) before you can stand to be in the place, and days before the gas is sufficiently gone that people don't find the place instantly unpleasant.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:15 PM on December 2, 2010

Mothballs are cute, but if you did that, and your landlord or whoever needed to legally enter the property for whatever reason, they're gonna get hurt, and you're getting sued or evicted. Bad idea.

I would just remove as much food as possible, and seal the rest in metal or glass.
posted by Slinga at 9:17 PM on December 2, 2010

So we just had a little mouse issue at my house and I was looking for alternatives to traps, thinking exactly what you thought...I don't want to attract those suckers! After much Googling, I found that if you put cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil (like 2-3 cottonballs) around the house, they stay away! Apparently, they really dislike the scent and won't come in. I was skeptical, but I haven't seen or heard one since we did this! We put them near the floor vents, so the smell would be carried around the house.

Make sure it's peppermint oil, not extract. The scent lasts a while and it's STRONG - we did this about two weeks ago and the smell is still pretty strong, so you shouldn't have to worry about it while you're gone. Just make sure you put the cotton balls in a glass or something so the oil doesn't stain your carpet, furniture, etc. One last thing...we did this in conjunction with traps, just in case, and we haven't had even one nibble. Mouse problem eradicated! Yay! Bonus - your house smells like a candy factory!
posted by fresh-rn at 11:14 PM on December 2, 2010 [4 favorites]

The peppermint oil cottonballs sounds like a good idea.

I also second using poison bait. We used to use traps, but the mice here seem to be intelligent enough to eat the bait and not get trapped. Also, we have had mice get trapped in traps, but not killed, and that's just horrible for all parties involved.

If you use poison, don't get the kind in the packets which the mice have to chew through (they don't seem to ever chew through the packets). We just use poison pellets placed in little plastic throwaway container lids, and that seems to work.

Maybe you could use peppermint oil odor cottonballs with some poison pellets as a backup? Seems like that would do the trick.
posted by strekker at 3:02 AM on December 3, 2010

Also put anything not stored in glass or metal in the fridge (food wise). Cereal, pasta, flours, etc. Freezer/fridge won't hurt pantry staples but might deter rodents who will happily chew through cardboard/plastic for food.

You may also want to store any hard soaps as well as mice will nibble them too.
posted by countrymod at 5:24 AM on December 3, 2010

Clean the kitchen thoroughly even if you have to hire a maid. Get rid of all your food - clean the cupboards. It doesn't make any sense to leave whatever dry goods you may normally leave in your cupboards for a month especially as it's only purpose will be to attract rodents. Either toss it, give it to a food pantry or neighbors.
posted by JJ86 at 6:55 AM on December 3, 2010

« Older Witch Art?   |   Baking with Hooch: Substitution Assistance, please... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.