Ultrasonic Mouse Repellers: What's the deal?
December 15, 2005 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience with these these ultrasonic mouse repeller things? Do they actually repel the mice?

I've tried traps. I've tried steel wool. I store all my food in jars or shelves that they can't get to. The only trap that's ever actually caught anything is those battery-operated ones that electrocute them. I can't use poison because my landlords (who live on the two floors below) have cats and even though they're obviously horrible mousers, I think poison + pets = bad scene.

They disappear for awhile, but they keep coming back. The floorboards are really old and hard to block up. I have a friend coming from out of town in a couple of days and I want to make sure she doesn't have anything crawling on her in the middle of the night. I don't really think they frequent the room she'll be sleeping in, but I've seen them poking around.

I've seen these in the store and if they did the job, I'd be more than willing to buy some. So do they really work? Is there anything that does ward off the little beasts?
posted by SoftRain to Home & Garden (29 answers total)
Old-fashioned mouse traps are the best. If they're not working for you, you probably aren't using them correctly, or the traps you got are crappy. You just have to gunk them up with peanut butter so it's not trivial to remove it all. Mice are pretty damn good are removing a little glob without setting the trap off.

I haven't used the repelling devices you mention, but my reading incidated they don't do much.
posted by knave at 7:06 PM on December 15, 2005

Slight derail:

Shouldn't your landlords be handling the mouse problem?

Also, the best way to get rid of mice is to keep them from coming in. They're coming from outside through somewhere, probably very small. And if you have vines growing on your outside walls, they're basically like little rat ladders.

Second on the traditional traps with peanut butter. You can adjust the sensitivity on them also.

I also have never used those repelling devices, but I haven't heard good things from people that have.
posted by puke & cry at 7:17 PM on December 15, 2005

I've used those ultrasonic repelling units and they have "worked" for me. That is, the mice stopped popping up shortly after I put them in. But I also tried a lot of things at the same time. I blocked up holes as much as possible with steel wool and duct tape and I also put out "Shake Away" mouse repellant, which is dried-up bobcat urine. I shook out small amounts onto paper towels and placed them about the floorboards. It's not smelly enough to bother a human nose (at least in my opinion).

Traps never ever worked for me: the mice avoided them at all costs. The combination of the ultrasonic devices, bobcat urine and hole-plugging-up seemed to work; but who knows which thing it was. I likely just found their main entry hole, finally.

Also, those ultrasonic devices are kind of meant to drive the little critters bonkers. Before my mice stopped appearing entirely, they had little freak-out sessions on my floor: kind of running in a circle and peeing. So you may see more of the mice at first, before they go away. That is, if these devices work at all, which is questionable.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 7:20 PM on December 15, 2005

Those things repel me, damn they're annoying.
posted by odinsdream at 7:33 PM on December 15, 2005

Two things:

1. The ultrasonic devices can also be heard by your cats/dogs. I did a test once where I plugged it in while watching my cat's reaction. The startled look on her face told me that she definitely noticed. For basement use, I had the significant other watch the cat upstairs in the house while I plugged it in in the basement, and she saw no reaction so we decided it was OK. Just FYI -- don't drive your pets insane.

2. Peanut butter baiting hasn't worked for me (it just sits there and dries up), but peanut butter rolled in bird seed kicks ass. Make a little ball of it and then mash it onto the trap. I used a live trap.
posted by intermod at 7:33 PM on December 15, 2005

I've tried those ultrasonic things and they turned out to be a waste of money. Didn't do shit. The only things that got rid of the mice were old fashioned traps with peanut butter as bait (and once I accidentally jumped on a mouse as I leapt drunkenly from the stairs to the ground floor - that got rid of one).
posted by bunglin jones at 8:14 PM on December 15, 2005

intermod: I hadn't thought of the cats. I don't actually have cats in my place, but there are cats in the floor below. I don't know if I'm going to bother because it sounds pretty bloody unpleasant even if does work.

Like I said, old-fashioned traps haven't worked so hot for me, but I am giving them another shot with more thorough smearing of peanut butter. (It probably doesn't help that I bait them with the kind that's just peanuts. Do they like the sugar-hydrogenated-whatever kind better?)

With live traps: I have thought of this, but where am I going to put the mice? It's the dead of winter and I live downtown. It will either die anyway or just come back (or bother someone else).

I would be just as happy with scaring them off as trapping them, but if the sonic things are that unreliable, I probably won't bother.

There are holes in my floorboards that have been plugged, which worked for awhile, but they seem to have found another hole or something.
posted by SoftRain at 8:31 PM on December 15, 2005

Ultrasonic devices were bunk (for both cockroaches AND mice).

We used poison, and then our landlord also patched up the holes where they were coming in.

however, now I know why my gf's dog hates my warehouse.
posted by fishfucker at 9:26 PM on December 15, 2005

to make it clear, I tried the ultrasonic devices -- I bought a six pack at Big Lots and plugged them all in around the warehouse. They should've DEFINITELY covered. I actually saw MORE mice because my landlord was doing construction at the time. Too bad you can't use poison, because that's what started picking those little fuckers off. Naturally, they die in the damndest of places, but luckily none of them kicked it in the ceiling or behind a wall).
posted by fishfucker at 9:27 PM on December 15, 2005

When the mice were visiting me, they came in through the hole in the wall behind the stove where the gas lines came in. They then crawled up through the holes around the burners. So you can check that. I was helped in that since the stove was white I could see the mousey footprints they left.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:28 PM on December 15, 2005

Well, that's where they are coming up in SoftRain's case, and indeed they've been around the burners. It's just that the hole is too big to fill effectively. I think she's given up filling all the holes, and it's just down to killing the mice as efficiently as possible.
posted by maledictory at 9:38 PM on December 15, 2005

I've tried those plug-in ultrasonic "pest" repellers and am of the opinion that they're nothing more than marketing tripe. I installed three in my garage (at the same time) and they have done nothing to stop mice and squirrels from making their home inside.

I have sensitive hearing and found that they were pretty irritating to me, though. In the end, plane-Jane traps have been working out well. Just be sure to place the trigger-side against a wall, since rodents tend to scurry along the floor/wall seam.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:39 PM on December 15, 2005

If traps aren't working well, remember that mice and rats navigate your home along walls and such; you will never ever ever see a mouse in the middle of a room unless they are tearing ass across it in fear. Imagine you're a blind Tom Thumb, one hand on the wall, your other stretched out in front of you. Put the trap in an area where you, Tom Thumb, would feel "safe."
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:08 PM on December 15, 2005

oh hey I completely missed C_D's comment yay me
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:09 PM on December 15, 2005

First, I hear those ultrasonic doohickeys. I'm 21, so that definitely has considerable bearing on that fact.

Second, none of my friends who've used them have had the slightest bit of success with them. I've never tried them myself... but, then I have two cats who are excellent mousers.

They kill the little suckers wonderfully. Aside from the dead ones the cats bring me, I never see mice in my apartment. I certainly hear them in the walls, though.

What you need is to get yourself a good, sharp cat. You might even see if a friend is willing to let you borrow theirs. Don't be offended if they say no, though, since many cats wouldn't deal well with this at all.

But, failing that, get yourself the old-school snap-crack traps. Do not skimp on these. You want plenty of them, and you want the high-end variety--not those 15 for $5 jawns they've got at the supermarket.

One couple I know had absolutely fabulous success with a brand that was made of plastic and had horrible jagged teeth around the perimeter of the snappy thing. They worked like a charm, and my friends' mouse problem rapidly abated. These traps were on a hair tigger, though, so make sure you don't snap your fingers in them.

Bait was various bits of whatever they thought the mice might like: peanut butter, rice, cheese of various sorts, Chinese food. These traps were on such a hair trigger that the mouse merely going in to smell the food generally set them off, decimating the rodent in the process.
posted by Netzapper at 10:44 PM on December 15, 2005

We spent a fortune on ultrasonic repellers; they did absolutely nothing. Several types of trap did nothing. They ate an enormous amount of poison and kept coming back.

The only thing that made any worthwhile difference and in fact seemed to take care of the problem was blocking up the holes. I used a comically enormous amount of steel wool, masses and masses of the stuff.

Someone should have some good ideas for finding where they get in - for example how about sprinkling shake and vac on the floor or something else that would show tracks?

Also, I would ask to borrow one (or both!) of your landlord's cats for a week or two. I don't think it's safe to conclude that they are horrible mousers on the basis that they are not keeping mice out of an area they don't have access to. And again, you might get a clue to where they are getting in by watching the places the cats stake out.
posted by teleskiving at 11:15 PM on December 15, 2005

Strangely, there was an askmefi thread a while back where a lot of people were saying how brilliant ultra-sonics were. I had mice that used to take the food from traps and leave notes mocking me. I bought one ultra-sonic, (different and probably more expensive than the one you linked to) plugged it into as close to the geographic centre of the apartment that I could find and I haven’t seen them sense. The only other thing I did at the same time was put down glue traps on their usual paths around the apartment –something I had done before to no effect.
posted by anglophiliated at 11:28 PM on December 15, 2005

Slight derail -- if you're not sure where they're coming in, dust the area with talcum powder or flour and then follow the tracks.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 2:40 AM on December 16, 2005 [1 favorite]

sense? since! no posting before coffee.
posted by anglophiliated at 2:42 AM on December 16, 2005

Clear everything you possibly can from the floor and check each day for new droppings. The trail will lead to their entrance. Also, I've had great success with snap traps (the cheap ones) but it requires using an obscene number of them everywhere you think the mice frequent.
posted by defreckled at 3:32 AM on December 16, 2005

The plastic snap traps are better, hair trigger, and will get anything. Ours have a giant red V on them. It has to be next to the wall, and we used bread mashed into the bait thing. This worked, after we'd spent two months chasing a mole. Moles seem to be a lot smarter and more hardcore. This one was eating pretty well off the bait in the wooden traps. It was practically a pet by the time we got the stupid thing.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 6:21 AM on December 16, 2005

from my same question earlier the only other suggestion was to get a ferret.
posted by GrumpyMonkey at 6:59 AM on December 16, 2005

I tried the ultrasonics, nothing. Get Victor brand of snap trap.
What I did was take a roasted peanut and carefully cut a little groove around the center 90 degrees to the halves. Wired the peanut in the trap with fine wire. I got about 30 mice per peanut but your mileage may vary.
posted by raildr at 7:16 AM on December 16, 2005

I have a battery powered trap that electrocutes the little suckers. Costs 19.99 and came with batteries. It is pretty easy to clean and does not create any mess as far as the actual killing of the rodents is concerned.

The only downside is having to buy new batteries for the thing once the originals wear out. The box says the batteries should be good for 50 rodents.

I've placed it in the air intake duct in my living room and under my kitchen sink and it works great.
posted by Wong Fei-hung at 7:27 AM on December 16, 2005

I do indeed have experience with them! I can hear the goddamned things! They repel me, but I don't know about mice. The horrible things should be banned!
posted by Pollomacho at 7:32 AM on December 16, 2005

I'm a believer in the glue traps, but they can be hard on the squeamish - if you catch one that doesn't give itself a heart-attack with panic it can make some very unnerving squeaking till it dies or you drown it in a bucket. You'll never accidentally poison a cat or have a poisoned rodent die and stink in an inaccessable place, however.

As far as the poison, although I am not a fan of it for different reasons, is there really any risk to cats that can't eat it directly? I wouldn't think a mouse could eat enough of it to harm the cat even if said cat subsequently ate the entire dead mouse. And I have never seen a cat consume much of any of that sort of kill, at least in a domestic situation.
posted by phearlez at 7:33 AM on December 16, 2005

I have had to be real tricky to catch the mice in NYC.

Country mice will fall for anything, city mice not so.

Poison only works on country mice or baby mice, so it works best near to where the nest might be.

Use all kinds of traps, but the old fashioned ones do work best most of the time. If a trap has been around untriggered, or has already caught a mouse, throw it out as it is marked by scent.

The trick I use is to change the environment around the trap, place cans and boxes in different positions each day as this makes them curious and more like likely to explore the trap.

If I catch one in a glue trap or find a live one in another type trap, I pick it up in a plastic bag then put it in the freezer.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:03 AM on December 16, 2005

I do have one of the zappy battery-powered things. It's the only thing that's caught anything, but it only worked once. Then I saw no mice for awhile. Then, I started seeing them again.

I have tried snap traps, which I move around constantly, to little effect. I've used lots of steel wool already -- the stove hole is the biggest problem.

The talcum powder's a really good idea.

I was really hoping for a more hands-off approach and those repeller things seemed like a dream come true (which is, when it comes to commercial products, a sign that things are too good to be true), because I have no stomach for dead stuff, especially mice, but c'est la vie.

Thanks everyone.
posted by SoftRain at 3:53 PM on December 16, 2005

The traditional mousetraps are pretty vile, I gotta admit. Especially when the bar smashes through their cranium and gets stuck. So you open the trap and their head is stuck to it and the trap slips and snaps again and you just know it's gonna chop the head in half.

Utterly gross. So you just have to remind yourself that the mouse is completely dead and the body-mutiliation stuff is irrelevant to the mouse now. It ain't feeling any more pain. And it surely died instantly.

Uck. But, dammit, it's the only thing that works for sure.

It prompted me into putting some good effort into finding the entry hole, though. Foamed it in, problem solved.

Also, I found that whole-wheat/seedy breads were the best of all possible baits. Impossible for mice to resist. Gotta wedge it tight onto the trap, though, and then set the trap carefully for mega-maximum sensitivity. Slightest mere touch and it goes off.

Be brave, belly-up to the traditional traps, and resign yourself to killing mice: I'v tried the humanitarian methods, and they all uniformly lead to breeding mice and a far, far bigger problem.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:52 AM on December 17, 2005

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