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A mouse is a roommate you never want to have, but no matter how hard you try to keep your home clean sometimes they just show up unannounced and refuse to leave. As the air gets colder, mice like to make their homes inside yours to stay warm. If you think you have a mouse problem (don't worry, we'll also cover how to tell), there are a few steps you need to take to ensure you eliminate the problem and avoid any future reoccurrences.
Getting rid of mice can take weeks or even months, but the dedication will definitely pay off. We consulted pest expert Ralph Citarella Jr, B.C.E., President of Bayonne Exterminating Company to get the low down on everything you need to know to get rid of these pesky friends.
Materials You'll Need to Get Rid of Mice
- Steel wool
- Store-bought traps
- Peanut butter or cheese
- Plastic food containers
Read on for steps to take to solve your pesky mouse problem.
Identify a Problem
The first step to solving your mouse problem is, well, determining you definitely have a problem. According to Citarella, "The first and most obvious sign [of a mouse] would be the presence of droppings." Those little pellets you keep seeing in your cabinets or on your countertops? Yep, probably mice.
"They tend to run the same paths on a regular basis leaving droppings regularly along the trail," Citarella says. "You might also notice food items or packaging damaged, even certain fabrics."
Once you've identified a problem, it's essential to act fast and diligently.
Find the Points of Entry
Once you've identified a problem, track the mice pellets back to their point of entry. According to Citarella, mice stick to the same areas so it should be fairly easy to figure out where they are living and how they got in.
Focus your efforts on where they are living rather than attacking your entire apartment.
Seal up All Holes
Before you start to tackle the problem at hand, focus on eliminating points of entry. Using caulk and steel wool, close up any holes you find around your foundation, windows, pipes, and more. Because mice cannot chew through steel wool, it's a great choice.
A mouse can squeeze through a hole as small as a dime, so seal up any holes half an inch or more to be safe.
Set Up Traps
Now is where the real work happens. There are many different store-bought traps, but unfortunately, Citarella says only those that kill the mouse really work. "To be honest, I don’t think you’d be able to completely eliminate an active mouse infestation without killing any," he says. That said if you're really set on a humane option, live traps are worth a try, though Citarella doesn't feel like they're 100% fool-proof.
Instead, consider snap traps that will quickly kill the mouse over sticky traps or poison that may cause unnecessary suffering.
Using gloved hands so your scent doesn't transfer, place the traps about three to five feet apart in the areas you identified earlier, ideally along the walls where mice travel. Use peanut butter or cheese to entice the mouse, but just a little will do.
Keep it Clean
While you wait for the traps to work, make sure you keep your house as clean as humanly possible. It's not only important to keep your house clean, but according to Citarella, your exterior is just as important. "Keeping the area around your home tidy (free of food and harborage) will help in keeping the exterior of the home less attractive to mice," he says. If you can't control what's happening outside, it's time to put even more focus on your interior.
Make sure all of your food is in airtight plastic containers. Don't leave dog or cat food out all day and make sure to clean down your floors, appliances, and countertops every single day. A lot of diligence will go a long way in eliminating and preventing your mouse problem.
What About a Cat? Or Peppermint Oil?
There are endless home remedies out there, but the truth is, unfortunately, not all of them work.
Thinking about getting a cat? Adopt one for companionship, not as a cure for your mouse problem. "For the most part, mice can access and live in areas of the house the cat may not get into, like wall voids, dead spaces, or even the basement," Citarella says. "Some cats may be good mousers, but not all."
Okay, but what about sonic repellants or peppermint? While they may be worth a try, don't expect them to be a cure. According to Citarella, there is not much science behind some of these repellant methods and really, the basics are always the best. Keep every inch of your home as clean as possible, trap the mice you have, and seal up any holes you find.
Sonic Pest Repellants. College of Agricultural & Life Sciences Cooperative Extension. Updated October 2015.