We have seen a few mice in our home that might be deer mice
September 3, 2016 4:49 PM   Subscribe

Have owned this home about 35 years and never had a problem with mice in the house before (a couple in the garage is all). In the last couple weeks we have seen a few mice in our laundry area which is ground level. The latest one (trapped today) looks to my non-expert eye like a deer mouse (small, white under belly), which I gather is bad news from a health standpoint. Two found in the laundry tub were disposed of previously. Questions after the break.

So of course it's a holiday weekend, and so I am reaching out to my fellow MeFites.

1) When we do finally call an exterminator on Tuesday, do we go with a large company or a small local one. I think I have heard horror stories in both cases, but again, I am primarily ignorant in this area. We called the company that did our attic bats 10 years ago, and they said they don't do mice.

2) The mouse we trapped seemed like it was making for a hole in the wall about 3.5 inches above the floor level, left over from a pipe that used to go into there, I suppose I should plug that up (better late than never).

3) Your advice for identifying a good company, avoiding rip-offs or just questionable charges? But in addition to the money question, there is also the fact that I gather it's important that if it is deer mice that they not die in our walls and spread virus carrying vapors (???), so we want the correct procedure to be performed, not necessarily the cheapest.

Assorted facts: This is the New Jersey suburban area of the Philadelphia Metro area. We did clear out our attic recently in prep for insulation before the Winter, but that is 2 floors up and we didn't notice any mice. Also some neighbors have had trees removed and been doing outdoor work.

Thanks in advance for any advice or suggestions!
posted by forthright to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For plugging up holes in the wall, I've had good luck with copper dish scrubbers. Mice will chew through most everything else. Wedge a whole mess of chore boy dish scrubbers in there.
posted by Ferreous at 5:00 PM on September 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

I don't know mice... I know rats.

With regard to choosing a company, get a couple bids, why not? And check the yelp reviews.

With regard to the hole in the wall: when I had my house sealed up against vermin, the guy I hired (who was not actually an exterminator - he was an attic cleaning and sealing guy) took me around the house and showed me allllll the places they had been getting in from. I was shocked at how many there were. So many broken grates where pipes go in and out... small openings in the HVAC closet wall... openings between the beams where the garage ceiling met the house... he spotted them all and sealed them up with foam and/or new grates.

Another service I did not hire, did not look at the house carefully before giving me the bid. He just didn't demonstrate any initiative or attention to detail. The guy I hired was energetic and scrappy and looked everywhere.

I'm sorry I don't know about deer mice and vapors, ugh. When I had my house sealed up, I think he sealed it up first, then set traps for any rats that might be there, and checked/emptied them before replacing the insulation which was the other thing I hired him to do.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:04 PM on September 3, 2016

Steel wool is great for plugging holes. They can get through pretty much any size hole, so just get a bunch of it and plug everything. I'm a big fan of standard 50-cent mousetraps with peanut butter on them, but make sure they're out of the way of toes, children, and pets. Obviously if you can't stop the mice from getting in, the traps will just keep getting filled. If you feel like getting a cat or two, those can be pretty helpful, though some will and some won't.
posted by Slinga at 5:08 PM on September 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you are using traps, make sure you put peanut butter INTO not on the trigger plate. That way to eat at it they have to dig into the plate, raising the chance of it going off and getting them.
posted by Ferreous at 5:41 PM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fortunately for you, there are no reported cases of hantavirus in New Jersey.
posted by falsedmitri at 5:57 PM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can't help you with exterminators, but with respect to disease are you talking about hantavirus? It's pretty rare, especially on the east coast. You've already completed the risky activity, which is cleaning out a closed up space whet mice may have been living. (The recommendation for cleaning is to cover your nose and mouth to prevent breathing in dust that may contain mouse urine or feces. Cleaning with a mop or wet rags would also help keep down dust.) At this point, don't panic about it, but call a doctor if you start feeling like you have the flu.
posted by zennie at 5:58 PM on September 3, 2016

Big exterminator companies are just a network of small companies. I don't think big vs small is an issue. Check reviews as best can.

We recently had a guy in the house re mice. Although there was talk about steel and copper wool, he used some sort of mesh slathered with a plaster-like substance.

Around the parts (CT), companies offer an anti-mouse service with a year guarantee for about $600.
posted by SemiSalt at 7:20 AM on September 4, 2016

I also came in to recommend snap traps baited with peanut butter, and some work carefully plugging up all holes with caulk and steel wool. I live in the country and, despite two lazy cats, had a mouse or two every winter until I went nuts with the steel wool; we have been mouse-free since. An exterminator is not worth it if there are still holes for them to get in.
posted by kmennie at 2:05 PM on September 4, 2016

Thanks for all the answers! For the benefit of those who posted advice and answers, and any folks who may land here in the future, here is where things stand:
1- the comments about hantavirus being rare on the East helped us put things in perspective
2- snap baits didn't work (my adult son said he felt the mice were too light because he watched one stand on it and eat the peanut butter)
3- we did use a combination of steel wool in any holes I could find, those packets that are supposed to give off a smell that keeps them away, and those small plastic boxes with a poison stick around a corner within
4- we saw a few mice several times that weekend (same ones or different ones, who knows) but we caught 2 and one was found lying the driveway after we used the boxes in the basement. It's been about 6 weeks without even seeing one. Current family wisdom is some unwise mice came in the basement unnoticed with returning family members (our basement is New Jersey style ground level)
5- we did not get an exterminator and the comments here helped lead us to find Web sites with good advice in that area.
posted by forthright at 4:25 AM on October 18, 2016

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