When it comes to mice invading your home, you have three choices. You can:
1) learn how to catch a mouse,
2) learn how to kill a mouse, or
3) learn how to prevent them from entering your house to begin with.
1. Rodent Proofing 101
Rodent-proofing your home is the most effective way to get rid of a house mouse or prevent the infestation of mice in your home. The easiest way to avoid mice in your home is by eliminating the areas they enter. Without a trained eye, this may prove to be difficult at times since mice have the ability to squeeze into tiny cracks no more than a quarter inch in size. In other words, if you can fit a pencil in it, a mouse can get through it. The majority of these entry points are found around the exterior of the home at or near ground level.
Sealing these small cracks in the foundation and block portions of your home will prevent mice from getting inside as the temperatures begin cooling. Openings in the ground level of your home, as well as basement walls are good areas to inspect, especially where utility pipes and ventilation are installed. Steel wool works very well in these areas. Simply take a screw driver and begin pushing pieces of the steel wool inside until the hole or crack is full. Unless you want the mice to come back, avoid using rubber, plastic, caulking, or even wood plugs because mice will chew their way right through. Install a weather strip on your doors and seal any window gaps to help.
2. Baiting 101
Now, if you feel that your home is sealed tightly yet, you still suspect a mouse or two inside there are other ways to go about the elimination process. Be it a single house mouse or multiple mice you can use some type of food product for bait. The traditional foods such as chocolate, peanut butter, bacon, or oatmeal works fine. When you're ready to begin baiting, you will need a standard snap trap. In order to be effective, you'll need to secure the bait to the trigger pad of the snap trap. This may be done with dental floss or even fishing line. If you do not secure the bait to the trigger pad of the trap chances are your mouse will get a free snack and run off into the night freely escaping the death that surely awaited it.
You can easily place peanut butter on the trigger pad as the mouse will need time to get it all in his or her belly - just enough time to get nailed by your trap. It's ok because most people feel the snap trap is humane as the mice never truly knew what hit them. Obviously, this is the general opinion of people. We haven't heard anything from the local mice to date.
You can purchase sealed packets of pellets or granules of poison to place in areas of mouse activity. The mice find the bait, eat it then, die in the shadows more often than not. There are even weighted containers you can place bait in around the exterior of homes to eliminate mice and other rodent issues. These are typically left in the hands of professionals with experience and reserved for places routinely hit with rodent activity though.
3. Trapping Like A Champ
The best way to get rid of mice in an ongoing infestation is with traps. There are several types of traps sold on the market for this purpose - some work well while others are just not worth a dime. The best part of traps is that they are non-toxic, they kill the mouse instantly instead of poisoning, and once caught they are easily disposed of before they begin rotting and smell. The classic wooden snap traps work well, but keep in mind that most people do not like the mess they can make. Baiting the trigger pads can be difficult as well.
Glue boards are another non-toxic and environmentally friendly way to catch mice and other rodents. Glue boards are simply a small to large piece of cardboard with one side full of a thick gel-like glue. While many people feel this is not as humane as a snap trap, glue boards are easily placed, silent, do not make a mess of blood and other possible rodent fluids, and do allow for easy disposal of mice. Tin Cats are a metal box with a one-way door installed for mice to enter only. Once inside these traps, a mouse cannot get out. They do not require any kill or baiting at all. When you find a mouse in the trap you simply set it free outside as it will come back in later. So, you can see how effective they are at times. Again, experienced pest professionals know how to handle and eliminate mice caught in these types of traps. Not very advisable for the home owner who doesn't like killing small rodents.
4. Think Like A Mouse
If you haven't decided to call a professional or begin excluding entry points in the home let us back up and understand that mice are a form of wildlife. When temperatures drop to freezing they seek out food and shelter just as any animal or person would do. It just happens that the heat, light and food you have inside your house appeals to them. Can you blame them? Their small size and natural abilities to adapt make them a popular pest especially during the winter months. Sealing any possible entry points is key to successfully eliminating, ridding or ending any type of rodent issue. Baiting with snap traps does end a mouse problem quickly if done correctly. If done wrong... well... the problem doesn't get any better and at times, may get worse with a female mouse inside.
During the warmer months it's a good idea to keep your lawn and landscape maintained by removing debris and lawn refuse. Move your compost pile far away from the house and any piles of leaf or lawn clippings. Keep your weeds to a minimum and fill in any burrows that might be visible to your eye. This discourages rodents from coming back. Replacing your mulch with gravel also helps discourage mice from entering around the foundation when cooler temps follow. Try elevating your garbage containers off the ground. Some blogs say to wrap your garbage in tightly sealed plastic bags but remember that the teeth of rodents are very sharp and plastic is no match for them - they will chew right through it hence elevation. Raising your containers six inches off the ground is enough to keep mice and rats at bay. And finally, keep your house clean and free of crumbs littering the kitchen floor.