April 26, 2015 11:50 AM   Subscribe

I found an uninvited mouse. I lost the mouse. I want to find the mouse again.

On Friday evening, I thought I saw something scurry into a dark corner. I watched the corner and definitely saw something mouse-shaped scurry from there into my pantry. I shrieked a little and then slammed the pantry door shut (with a blanket placed at the baseboard and weighed down with an empty wine bottle for good measure) until I could go talk to the super the next day. The super said she could call pest control, but they wouldn't come by until Monday, advised me to set down some traps on my own, and seemed generally unconcerned (my complex is set against a hill with a wide open meadow on the other side, so I guess occasional wandering mice are a thing? I've seen deer just cruising around between buildings before, so.)

I set snap traps baited with peanut butter (it's the unsweetened natural kind-of-melty-at-RT kind, so it sort of smeared all over and around the trigger. If that matters. It doesn't look like it's been eaten off the traps without them tripping.) both on the floor inside the pantry, and inside the just-cracked door where it would have to run over the trap to exit. I cleared out any open food and a few things that were in packaging that I suspected would be thin enough to chew through. No signs of him yet. Do I go back on Monday and ask to call pest control anyway? Is there another way to lure him out? Is the peanut-butter-and-snap-trap thing less effective than advertised (by my super and also by the household supplies shelf girl at Walmart?)

tl;dr how do I lure out this (hopefully lone?) mouse
posted by kagredon to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The traps are fine, you just need to be patient. I'd say pest control is always overkill for a mouse or mice. Please don't use kill traps, it's easy to manufacture humane traps from free materials you have lying around. I'm also a bit baffled about what more you'd expect the super to do.
posted by turkeyphant at 12:06 PM on April 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: ...I don't expect anything? I'm just giving a full account of what happened and asking if I need to call in professional help.

Mice that are adapted to live around human settlements don't tend to live long when released in the wild, and I work long hours, which means that a mouse could be hanging out in a glue or box trap for up to 12 hours at a time. I don't consider that more humane than a quick death, but I also really do not want this question to be the place where we debate that.
posted by kagredon at 12:08 PM on April 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

Can you borrow a friend's cat for an hour?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:14 PM on April 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: It may have been a field mouse wandering in for a nose around. They don't often stay indoors and prefer the outdoor life. It may have gone back outside, wandered into another apartment that had traps, been eaten by a neighbours cat or you didn't have enough food easily accessible it's moved on to easier pickings. Keep the traps our for a couple of weeks to make sure none of it's friend pop in for a visit. Block up any obvious access holes with steel wool, (around the pipes under the kitchen sink is a favourite way in)_ make sure to put the traps out of the way, along walls or behind or next to fridges/freezers is the best place, sitting in the open the mouse won't feel safe enough to investigate the new scary thing no matter how peanut buttery it smells.

If you are worries he's hanging around look around for signs like mouse poops, they will be smaller than you think, or holes chewed into bags or cardboard boxes of food (check the ones at the bottom of the pile or at the back, again because mice don't tend to like the open).
posted by wwax at 12:15 PM on April 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

I found that even a lazy cat will give enough cat smell to get mice to go away, but it's not going to happen in an hour.

I brought my cat in to the office when I worked in an industrial area, and she'd sort of glance at the mice running around and not bother chasing them or moving anything but her eyes, but after 3 days the mice disappeared. I know for certain it wasn't from the cat killing them as I brought her to and from work with me daily. They came back after a while if for any reason I stopped bringing the cat around, though.
posted by jeather at 12:38 PM on April 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I gave up on peanut butter on my traps after seeing them licked clean. After that, I used a pair of pliers to enhance the sensitivity of the trap by bending the part of the trigger so there was less area of it holding down the metal arm that flips up, releasing the deadly part of the trap, and I wedged a piece of a wheat thin (any firm, stiff cracker will work) in there. I found the mouse dead the next day with the cracker in its mouth.

Traps and snares are partly a waiting game.
posted by Sunburnt at 2:31 PM on April 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Placement of the trap is important. Mice (and rats) run right alongside the baseboards and cabinet walls, close enough to brush against the vertical surface. Move all your traps so the long dimension is parallel to and touching the walls.

I like to bait with a dog kibble stuck into a blop of peanut butter, they can lick the peanut butter off but can't move the stuck-down kibble w/o triggering the trap.
posted by jamaro at 5:03 PM on April 26, 2015

Nthing cats. A very short visit has been known to do the trick, viz. the following scenario:

Neighbor A spots mouse, borrows cat from neighbor B across the hall. B's cat is uninterested in mouse zone, wanders around for maybe 15 minutes, leaves. Mouse is never spotted again. The apartments are on an upper floor, and the building lacks meadow access. Presumably the mouse smells cat and relocates to live with Neighbor C, who has no cat.

We have witnessed this scenario twice, first as neighbor A and then, in another building, as Neighbor B. On a third occasion, mrs_goldfish had been out of town for a week or two, taking the cat with her. A mouse made itself at home in the meantime, leaving the signs wwax describes. When the cat returned, he caught the mouse with astonishing speed, despite being a total novice -- or so we thought at the time -- later, when moving furniture during a flood, we found a second, mummified, corpse.

Those are my data points, some optimistic, some grisly.
posted by feral_goldfish at 7:02 PM on April 26, 2015

Glue traps and poison baits are the only things that have worked for me. Any 'humane' traps that I've tried have essentially been feeding stations. Also, the time elapsed trying to get the mice in the 'humane' trap gives the now well-fed mice more time to reproduce and make the problem worse.
posted by gimonca at 9:32 PM on April 26, 2015

Try a mix of fennel seed and peanut butter. Rodents love fennel.
posted by zaelic at 12:49 AM on April 27, 2015

Borrow a cat for a couple of hours. Mice are evolutionarily evolved to freak the fuck out when they smell or see cats, unless they're particularly brazen. They'll smell cat and leave your apartment for greener pastures. This what happened LIKE MAGIC when we got cats in our shitty NYC apartment.
posted by corb at 9:32 AM on April 27, 2015

If you set traps, make sure that they're the easiest food source. I put all rice/grain/cereal into a sealed plastic tub until I'm sure the mouse has left or I've trapped it. Don't forget the cushions on your couch/chairs. If you have kids (like me), or you're a slob (like me), you may have tasty mouse buffets under there. Sweep that stuff. I've had 3 episodes in the past 5 years; peanut butter is my usual goto, but I had one stubborn rodent that finally succumbed to a cheese puff.
posted by punchee at 10:11 AM on April 27, 2015

Seconding the glue trap recommendation. While they may be a little bit evil, in my experience they have been the most effective. (They are the only ones that have actually caught mice for me. The "box" version and "tray" versions both seemed to work.) I generally placed some almond butter right in the center of the glue trap as bait and then waited.

Snap traps never worked for me.
posted by theorique at 11:42 AM on April 27, 2015

Glue traps are also the only way I have ever caught mice. If you work long days and don't want to leave a caught mouse then you could just put the glue traps out at night (mice tend to be most active at night anyway) right along where the mouse needs to run to get into the pantry. If there's anything to catch, you probably will (and it will likely wake you up and it will be horrible but you will have caught the mouse).
posted by Polychrome at 7:26 AM on April 28, 2015

Response by poster: No love on the snap traps yet. I did find and plug a small crack in the baseboard at the back of the pantry (not even dime size, about the breadth of the edge of a quarter, but better safe than sorry, I guess), and set a trap along the other side of the shared wall. It's possible that from there he got out. I also found and cleaned up little mouse poops on the pantry floor. I'll keep an eye out for more throughout the apartment over the next few days and ask around about borrowing a cat. If the poop is still showing up with nothing trapped by the weekend and I can't find someone amenable to the cat thing, I'll try glue traps, otherwise I'm guessing the mouse left through other means. Thanks all.
posted by kagredon at 10:00 AM on April 28, 2015

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