If you give a mouse a cookie.... will he leave my house?
August 16, 2019 6:52 AM   Subscribe

There is a mouse in our row house. He is terrified but still moving from room to room. We would like to lure him into a container of some sort, then scoop him up and set him free in the forest behind our house. Is there advice for this sort of thing? I'm sure pest control will be involved eventually but at the moment I am asking for a tearful and empathetic 10 year old.
posted by nkknkk to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you're trying to DIY this, then some sort of bucket mouse trap is probably your best bet.

If you're not trying to DIY this, many humane mouse traps are available.
posted by mosst at 6:59 AM on August 16, 2019 [7 favorites]

Here’s the system a guy in my mouse-infested dorm came up with, which has proven pretty effective over the years:

You need a smooth-walled plastic or metal bucket or wastepaper basket, some peanut butter (mice fucking love peanut butter), and some means by which to create a ramp leading into the bucket. I believe a wooden chair next to the bucket also works, but it has to be something the mouse can climb up. You put the peanut butter in the bottom of the bucket/trash can and set up the makeshift ramp/staircase of books/climbable chair such that the mouse can climb up, drop down into the trash can, eat the peanut butter, then find itself unable to climb out. Check the bucket often, of course. Mouse gets a snack and a free ride to the outdoors and only spends a few hours confused.

(On preview, it looks like mosst may have covered this with the “bucket mouse trap.”)
posted by some_kind_of_toaster at 7:04 AM on August 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

I had a roommate who once cornered a mouse in a closet, then removed everything from the closet that was not a mouse, and plopped a tupperware container over him. We let him loose outside and had the distinct impression that he made it back to the house before we did; I wish you greater success.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:07 AM on August 16, 2019 [11 favorites]

If you have the money a humane trap is the way to go, most hardware stores sell them they're not that expensive & reusable. Easier than trying to rig something up. Take him way further away than the forest behind your house or he'll just be back, also if you are seeing them you have way more than one mouse in your house. So you might want to put the trap out a few nights running.
posted by wwax at 7:12 AM on August 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yes, be sure to take mouse far away from your house — I'd take him to a different neighborhood. If you just take him outside, or out to the curb, he will be back in no time.
posted by ubiquity at 7:12 AM on August 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Wear gloves or do something else to make sure you don’t come into contact with it with your bare hands. I have had a “mouse” that turned out to be a baby rat. I’ve also gotten chuckled at by the hardware store guy who told me “there’s never just one mouse.”
posted by sallybrown at 7:14 AM on August 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

Great responses so far, thank you! The lovely forested park is about 2+ blocks away and we can drop him in on the far side. More ideas still welcome.
posted by nkknkk at 7:26 AM on August 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

In many localities, releasing rodents near other people's property is a crime, so if if that is your plan you may want to be discreet about it. Seconding "if you're seeing them you have more than one" - last time we thought we had "a mouse" what we ended up actually having was thirteen mice. We also had no luck at all with non-lethal traps, even after trying for over a week. Deploying the old-school snappy ones wrapped things up in a few days.
posted by jordemort at 7:30 AM on August 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've had great luck using humane traps. Sometimes there is just one mouse, but be prepared to be catching them for a while if it has had time to start a family or invite over their friends.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:35 AM on August 16, 2019

Oh, please don't try catching the mouse by covering it with a container, unless the container is really big, transparent, and you have flawless aim. I tried this once and injured the mouse by mistake. It was awful.
posted by prewar lemonade at 7:35 AM on August 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

One and a half times in my life, it actually was just one mouse. Once, while growing up a mouse clearly ran in through the back patio door, never to return after being caught and evicted by my dad. Another time (the half time) it was a lady mouse but she then became a momma mouse. Momma died falling down a vent, while the babies were not quite ready to be on their own yet. We caught some stragglers (after almost having one of them fall on us from the unfinished basement ceiling!), and later that day cleaned up some starved/dehydrated baby mice when we found the nest. But most importantly, we used the nest location to find the likely entrance to the house, or there would have been more mice again if we hadn't sealed this up.

Other times in my life that there was one mouse, or one rat, there was always more. Which is to say that be prepared for this not being just one mouse.

Also, unless you know how the mouse got in, mice leave trails of urine while walking, so there's a glowing map to all other mice showing how to get into your house. Find this/these locations and get them closed off (and watch for signs of your sealing/closure/hardware cloth netting getting disturbed. An adult mouse can find through a hole the size of a dime. A rat through a hole the size of a quarter. For the scent reason, I'd suggest dropping off the mouse at least 1 mile away from your house to prevent it from just coming back in before you've sealed the entrance.
posted by nobeagle at 7:37 AM on August 16, 2019

Back before we fastidiously filled every house orifice with urethane foam, we had used a unique humane trap with a ping pong ball that swung down using the ping pong ball as the gate to the trap. It was ingenious and worked extremely well. I can't find the darn things anywhere online. It's a shame, they were great. Perhaps someone who remembers them with more google-fu can suss them out. They were seriously the best traps we ever used.
posted by sydnius at 7:45 AM on August 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Update: The mouse is dead. My husband... vacuumed it? I'm not sure I want to know the details to be honest. The child is managing the funeral.

Thank you all for your excellent advice. I will be calling pest control now re: potential mouse family members still at large.
posted by nkknkk at 8:42 AM on August 16, 2019 [14 favorites]

Now that this is resolved, I just want to mention that house mice are not necessarily outdoor animals. You say you live in a row house? There is a really good chance that this mouse had never been outside in its life, and was born and raised in one of the houses on your block. Releasing it outside would have likely meant rapid death for it anyway. So please don't feel too bad about this!
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:47 AM on August 16, 2019 [7 favorites]

I also wanted to add that so-called humane traps aren't necessarily beneficial for mice. Mice who are released near your house will return to it, and then you'll have to deal with them again. Mice released in a strange territory far from your house are unlikely to survive.
posted by FencingGal at 8:52 AM on August 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have yet in my life caught one mouse and not caught at least 1 or 2 more
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 8:58 PM on August 17, 2019

« Older Help me find a game like Civilization and SimCity   |   Brain fog on an antibiotic - has this ever... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments