I grew up in a log cabin in northern Minnesota. Being that we lived in the country, our home was frequently visited by mice. Mice infestations never got that big because our cats were extremely skilled mousers. But we would occasionally notice a few more mice around than normal. Once, while buttering a piece of toast, I noticed tiny lick marks and little foot prints all over the butter in the butter dish. I did not eat toast that morning. On these occasions where the cats were unable to keep up with the mouse population, we would set out snap traps at night. Baited, as you may have guessed, with butter. At night we would lay in bed and listen to the snapping traps, ridding us of our house mouse problem.
The house mouse (Mus musculus) is a common nuisance in the homes of people all over the world. The average adult mouse is 3–4 inches long from nose to butt. The tail adds an additional 2–4 inches. House mice have large hairless ears and beady black eyes. House mice are, for the most part, nocturnal and are afraid of bright lights. But they occasionally look for food during the day. House mice are opportunist omnivores. They will literally eat anything.
The Baby Mouse
A female house mouse can have 5–10 litters per year at an average of 6–8 baby mice per litter. This, in combination with the fact that a female mouse can begin reproducing at 6 weeks old, makes the house mouse a very prolific breeder. In the wild, a house mouse may only live for a year because of predation and food shortages. But in a home with a constant supply of food and protection from predators, a house mouse may live up to 4 years. That is unless you kill it first.
Getting Rid of House Mice
The first step in getting rid of house mice is to stop feeding them. Mice are in your home because they enjoy the shelter and food it has to offer. So, in order to eliminate the food source, you will have to keep food in sealed containers and clean up your house. Get out the vacuum and suck up all the crumbs on the floor, in the couch, under the furniture, and anywhere else food may have been left. Pet food is another major source of mouse food. Try only feeding the pets what they will eat in a sitting. If they get a little hungry, maybe they will start going after the mice.
In order to keep the mice out of the house, you will have to mouse-proof your home. Mouse-proofing inside your house is a waste of time if they can still get in from the outside. Walk around the exterior of your home looking for holes, cracks, and other possible entry points. Use a combination of steel wool and sealant to keep the mice from getting back in through any holes you find. Don’t forget to look under roof eaves as well. Also, make sure any ventilation covers have holes too small for mice to get through—½ inch or less. Make sure all exterior doors have a tight fit with no empty space underneath. While you’re outside, make sure the garbage bin has a secured lid and that no garbage is laying around for the mice to eat.
The snap trap is one of the best reusable traps available to get rid of house mice. It also almost always instantly kills the victim. A couple times I had to finish a mouse off—not fun but not hard. Set the traps in places where mice congregate and use some butter or peanut butter as mouse bait. Check the traps on a daily basis, or more frequently if you have a lot of mice. We would set the traps in the kitchen and watch TV in the other room. Whenever we heard a trap snap, we would go reset the trap. We would catch 5 or 6 mice before we even went to bed. Use as many traps as you think is necessary. If you are emptying them frequently, set out more.
Using mouse poison to get rid of house mice is effective but dangerous. Mouse poison is composed of blood thinner, and it will thin the blood of anything or anyone that eats it. If you have children or pets in your house, I would not recommend using poison. If you do elect to use poison, use covered bait containers to prevent others from eating it. The other problem with using poison is that it does not kill immediately, giving the mouse time to find a nice hiding spot to die. In time you will become aware of the location, or at least a vague idea, by the stench a rotting mouse corpse provides. Would have been a lot easier to catch it in a trap.
House mice like to make nests in boxes, drawers, and attics. After getting rid of the mouse problem, you may still have to find the nests and/or rotting mouse corpses. If you do happen to find a nest, don some gloves and a mask, and throw the nest away. Mice also like to pee and poop around their nests, so you may have more cleaning to do. Use a weak mixture of bleach water (1 Tbsp bleach to 1 gallon water) to sanitize the area. If you want a more effective and less toxic cleaner, try using an enzymatic cleaner. It has bacteria, which eat up the odor-causing stuff.
Natural House Mice Control
Some domestic cats are great at catching mice. Not all cats have the instinct to kill mice; the ones that do are known as mousers. If you go the cat route, get a female cat. Females are better at hunting than males.
The live trap is not exactly a natural solution; at least not by itself. After you catch a mouse, you can’t let it go, as it will just come back in. For a natural solution, try drowning them in natural spring water.
Domestic dogs are not commonly used to catch mice, but a lot of dogs have the ability and will instinctively chase anything that runs from them. Dogs may be a good option as a preventative measure by keeping mice from prancing around your house willy-nilly.
A little mouse problem?
If you choose to neglect your little mouse problem, you may end up with a big mouse problem. Mice are fast breeders. In less than 5 months, those two mice will have 24 children, 64 grandchildren, and 500 great-grandchildren. That is with an average of 8 babies per pregnancy that all survive. OK, so it’s a total exaggeration, but it is possible. The point is that once you realize you have mice, you need to do something about it. Start by finding out what they are eating in your house. Keep eating areas clean of crumbs, and don’t leave uncovered food out for them to eat. Next, seal up the outside of your house to keep more mice from getting in. Remove waste and other food sources from around the outside of your house. Use snap traps inside your house to remove and kill the mice still inside. Even after you suspect you have indeed gotten rid of house mice, keep setting traps and checking them on a daily basis for a couple months. There may still be juvenile mouse hiding in a nest somewhere. If you run across a nest, use gloves and a mask to dispose of it. Geez, maybe you should get a cat. If you do, get a female cat, as they are better mousers.