Eek! Mice!
January 26, 2004 8:52 AM   Subscribe

mouse troubles - after trying the old standard: mouse traps, and hired guns: (mouse hunting cats) both of which were effective but didn't finish the job ... im wondering if anyone has any advice for curing a mouse problem once and for all?
posted by specialk420 to Pets & Animals (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, curing a mouse problem is a three part process.
1.) Seal your house very carefully. Patch holes, close off the mousey thoroughfares.
2.) Food control is rodent control: Keep floors and countertops very clean. Store pantry food in tupperware containers. Never leave snacks laying around unprotected. This doesn't just prevent your food from getting damaged, it reduces the mouse problem, since mice will breed less when they have less to eat.
3.) Trap consistently. It may not be entirely possible to "finish the job," because during certain seasons, new mice might just keep finding their way in.

Regular snap-traps work well (use peanut butter as bait. If the problem persists, try a bit of sausage. Some varieties of rodent are meat-eating.) If you really want to pull out all the stops ( warning: gross/cruel/effective method), make a bucket trap by threading some wire through a 20 oz pop bottle, wiring it across the top of a five gallon bucket so it spins freely. Fill the bucket halfway with water, smear peanut butter all over the bottle, and lean a 2x4 up against the bucket so it reaches about 2 inches from the bottle. The mice will run up the ramp, leap onto the peanut butter and get flipped into the water. I've caught up to eight mice in one night with this method.

Good luck!
posted by bonheur at 9:05 AM on January 26, 2004

My wife and I had a terrible mouse problem in our apartment. We finally solved it (for the most part), but going to a hardware store and asking the owner for advice. He proceded to tell this horrible story about how his home was so infested with mice that he and his girlfriend both wound up contracting lime disease. Then he urged us very strongly to buy a Rat-zapper from him.

Rat-zappers are little death chambers for rodents. The are small tunnels, and you place a tiny bit of food in the end (though even without the food, rodents are attracted to them, because they like to run inside tunnels). When they get inside, the walk over a little plate in the floor that turns on the juice and electrocutes them.

You know a critter has been zapped, because if one trips the floor switch, it also causes a light to blink on the top of the unit. You can then pick the zapper up and tip the mouse out into the garbage.

This has been the ONLY thing that has worked for us. It tends to catch about five or six mice before they stop coming, and they we don't have another mouse problem for about a year. At which point we have to bring out the zappers again.

I recommend buying 2 or three of them.
posted by grumblebee at 9:06 AM on January 26, 2004

wow... i like the death/drowning pit idea bonheur... and thanks for the info on the rat zapper grumble (the photoshop tip in another thread is a gem as well).

the mice are so damn annoying. my little abode is nearly spotless but they still seem to find things to munch on.

i hate the idea of poison - in that you never know where the little carcass are going to end up.
posted by specialk420 at 9:13 AM on January 26, 2004

Glue traps. Cheap and effective, but more grim than they sound. The little guys stick to the glued cardboard, struggle, lock themselves in tighter, and eventually can't breathe. On one hand, if there are soft-hearted persons in the household, you might want to use them "judiciously"--the chance of finding a hopelessly near-dead mouse with these is high. On the other hand, they're the only thing that's worked really reliably for me.

Little envelopes of poison, as sold at hardware stores, will work very well if you've already been training the mice to nibble on packets of hot cocoa mix and such. Hopefully thing's haven't gotten that far.

Both of the above work best if you know the paths the mice tend to run along, that way you can put 'em right where they'll find them.

For me, live "catch-and-release" traps were a complete waste of time. They were basically feeding stations.

bonheur's 1, 2, and 3 are all good suggestions.
posted by gimonca at 9:15 AM on January 26, 2004

Glue traps do solve the "habeas corpus" problem, too--no guesswork as to where the dead mouse ended up.
posted by gimonca at 9:16 AM on January 26, 2004

The glue works, but you need a pretty hard heart to carry it off.. you will end up having to drown the things, or bash their tiny heads in, in order to actually kill them.
posted by ascullion at 9:21 AM on January 26, 2004

i've tried the glue traps - didn't do a thing for me... in their paths and feeding places, even baited them. thanks though.
posted by specialk420 at 9:25 AM on January 26, 2004

In my personal experience, scattering poison around is a *terrible* solution. The mice eat some, then crawl into a wall and die, leaving you to put up with the stench of rotting flesh for the next month. Not to mention the dangers to children and pets. Yech.

As for glue traps, I find them just too cruel. If you don't want to empty a snap trap, you can just use a broom to sweep the whole thing into a paper bag and put it in the garbage. Traditional snap-traps are reusable, but they don't cost any more than glue-traps, so you can choose to throw them away if you'd rather not have to touch anything dead.
posted by bonheur at 9:27 AM on January 26, 2004

Steel wool and a terrier.

My sister's dog is only part terrier, but if it smells a mouse, it won't rest until the job is done. Steel wool to plug the holes they're using to get into the house.
posted by teg at 9:53 AM on January 26, 2004

My sister stopped using glue traps forever when she went to check on one of the traps at work and found a mouse stuck to one by its eyeball. I think the keys here are food control, water control, exit/egress control and vigilance. We use humane traps [little hav-a-hart ones or those plastic tippy kinds] stuck in the mouse travel paths, and when we catch mice we take them for a long drive away. We've stuck steel wool into the mouse exits and entrances to the kitchens and we make really sure to clean up all the crumbs and grease when we're done cooking. At some level you want to get the mouse to think of your place as hostile [compared to, perhaps, the neighbor's place, or outside] so they go away and don't come back, or at least don't come back til next year. We always have a few of them coming in in the Fall when it gets chilly, but keeping the kitchen toxic to mice [without having to kill them which I am too much of a wimp to do] works for us.
posted by jessamyn at 9:54 AM on January 26, 2004

I've only used snap traps, and found that they worked fine, but we generally only had mice that came in during the winter. Though I will tell you from experience that having a mouse run across your arm while you're asleep will wake you RIGHT the fuck up.

Big helpful hint: whatever your trap -- snap, glue, whatever -- don't drown or bash your victim. I've done these, and drowning makes a very sad and pathetic looking little ex-mouse that you feel very sorry for, and bashing doesn't always work. And you feel really sorry for the mouse when it comes back later, walking funny and continually falling over to the left.

What works quickly and apparently humanely is car exhaust. Put your little victim in a bucket, put the bucket under/around the tailpipe. Mr. Mouse will be an ex-mouse after about 5 seconds of gasping.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:39 AM on January 26, 2004

If the cats didn't work, get more cats - my parents have three cats and had a mouse in the house exactly once. The cats caught it and passed it around to torture for a long time until my sister rescued it and put it outside. Apparently it spread the word, because there hasn't been a single mouse in the house since.

PLEASE do not use the glue or drowning methods, I know they're vermin in your house, but that's no excuse for purposeful inhumanity, I don't mean to be preachy, but if you're going to kill them please be humane about it. Do not poison them if you have cats - or you may end up with dead or very sick kitties, and as bonheur said, you often end up with rotting mouse carcass in inaccessible spots. My advice is to electrocute them with grumblebee's zapper, borrow another cat for a week or two (preferably a proven mouser, not all cats are good mousers), borrow a terrier, or humane trap them and release them far away. You could also contact a reputable exterminator and have them come to figure out where the mice are living and evict them.
posted by biscotti at 10:54 AM on January 26, 2004

I know several people who swear by the mouse repelling properties of Osage Oranges (a.k.a. Hedge Apples).
posted by Otis at 11:14 AM on January 26, 2004

When I lived in NYC the apartment building behind mine was torn down. Apparently it completely disrupted the balance of mouse power in the neighborhood because our apartment was overrun with them. Hundreds of them. And they were genius mice. They'd eat the food out of the spring traps somehow without triggering them or we'd find the traps sprung with no food and no mouse. Our solution was to deliberately feed the mice from unset traps for a few days. When they'd been lulled into complacency and carelessness we started setting the traps. We'd catch dozens a day. After a couple of weeks the mouse population was under control.
posted by TimeFactor at 11:26 AM on January 26, 2004

get more cats

have you seen what cats do to mice when the catch them? ... i appreciate your concern for fellow creatures though.

thanks for all the suggestions - lots of ammo. i still think "bonheur's bucket" sounds like the most inventive and perhaps effective approach with a few more old school victor traps mixed in.
posted by specialk420 at 12:22 PM on January 26, 2004

The particularly cold weather around here lately has brought in the mice in our house I think. We didn't get any mice last winter, but this one we've seen 3 so far. Our cats are about 10 years old and this is their first experience with mice. I wish there was a way for us to teach them to kill them quickly. The mice I find in the morning have been quite mangled and look like they've been through hell.
posted by soplerfo at 1:30 PM on January 26, 2004

have you seen what cats do to mice when the catch them?

Yep. I have euthanised far more wee creatures after taking them away from cats than I can count (cats are useful for catching them, then it's your job to kill them with car exhaust or a brick). However, cats that are effective mousers play less with their victims (the novelty wears off, and the hunting practice isn't needed, so they tend to dispatch them fairly quickly) and seem to have a warding-off effect on the remaining mice. Either way, cats are still more humane than glue.
posted by biscotti at 1:45 PM on January 26, 2004

The three types of traps I've used with greatest success:
1. snap traps, as long as they can't steal the bait
2. "can" traps. They look like miniature tall kitchen trash cans with a swing down lid. They are/can be humane becuase you can release the rodent (so that it runs back in the house)
3. wind-up trap - it's a large box with a tunnel on the side. In the tunnel, there is a wind-up ramp that when stepped on, flips the mouse into the bin, and resets itself.

As far as poisons are concerned, one of the more effective is warfarin sodium (used to treat clotting disorders), which makes the mice feel really hot (side effect of very large doses) and they run outside and die of exposure. Note: do not use this method and snap traps together--it's messy.
posted by plinth at 3:08 PM on January 26, 2004

If you're looking for a non-lethal trap, the Kness Tip-Trap is reliable, reusable, and pretty clever in its design.
posted by jjg at 3:46 PM on January 26, 2004

I should have mentioned earlier that the same bucket trap I described above can be made into a live trap by putting oats and a small pickle-lid full of water into the bucket instead of filling the bucket with water. If you choose to live-trap, you have to be hyper-vigilant about checking the traps. Mice will die of panic and dehydration after a short while (maybe 6 or 8 hours), and I think that's worse than a relatively-quick drowning death.
posted by bonheur at 4:36 PM on January 26, 2004

dang. ask and you shall receive at askmefi - thanks again. good peeps.
posted by specialk420 at 9:34 PM on January 26, 2004

To add a bit to the excellent info thus far: I smeared some Nutella on the "bait" tab of a trusty Victor trap and snagged many more than with the glue traps. Even had the exterminator asking me what I used!
posted by sillygit at 9:55 PM on January 26, 2004

To repel them, we'd place heavily soaked cotton pieces of Brut by Faberge into dishes. The cheaper Target brand works just as well.
posted by Feisty at 10:32 PM on January 26, 2004

glue traps? what a bunch of sick people
posted by shoos at 2:38 AM on January 27, 2004

Best thread ever.
posted by Frasermoo at 6:50 AM on January 27, 2004

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