Mouse infestations are becoming increasingly common in American homes as rodent predators, including owls, hawks, foxes and snakes, lose their habitats to suburban sprawl. Mouse problems occur in every state and during every season, though new infestations are particularly likely in the fall, when the onset of cold weather encourages rodents to head indoors.
Home owners usually can eliminate all but the most serious mouse infestations without the help of a professional exterminator.
Options for mouse control
Snap traps. Old-fashioned but improved spring-loaded mousetraps are among the most effective mouse-control options. The best of these is the Snap-E Mousetrap by Kness Manufacturing (641-932-7846, www.kness.com, $16.50 for six). Its smart design increases the kill rate… makes accidental finger snaps less likely — and allows you to remove dead mice without touching them.
A dab of peanut butter makes an effective mousetrap bait.
Even better: Put a pecan sliver in the peanut butter, then add two drops of vanilla extract. Small pieces of greasy cooked bacon also work. Cheese is less effective.
Place snap traps wherever you find mouse droppings or mouse holes. (Wear rubber gloves, and use moist paper towels to clean up the droppings.) Mice like to travel along edges, so position the baited ends of snap traps up against walls. Set at least six to 12 traps.
Cage traps. Cage traps capture mice without harming them. They are appropriate for people who prefer not to kill animals, and they can be quite effective. Use the same bait as used in snap traps. Safeguard Multi-Catch Mouse Trap (800-433-1819, www.safeguardproducts.com, usually $10 to $15) and Victor’s Tin Cat Repeating Live Catch Mouse Trap (800-800-1819, www.victorpest.com, $15.23) are among the best. Ask your local animal control office where to dispose of mice.
Poisons. Rodenticides are a commonly used option, but they are not necessarily the best unless you don’t want to check traps or you have more than a few dozen mice. Pets or small children might eat the poison… or poisoned mice might die in your walls or attic, infusing your home with their smell.
If you do use poison, those that come in grain form are more effective than the wax-impregnated blocks. Put the poison in tamper-resistant bait stations, and place these wherever you find mouse droppings.
Look for Bell brand stations at pest-control supply stores, and expect to use four to six. Price: $3 to $6 each.
Glue boards. A glue board uses adhesive to trap mice. These are no more effective than snap traps or cage traps and are unnecessarily inhumane, because captured mice slowly die of starvation or thirst.
To keep your home mouse-free, plug holes. Typical points of entry include small gaps where pipes or vents pass through walls… the vents themselves… foundation cracks… and under doors. A mouse can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime.
Easy plug for some holes: A copper mesh product called Stuf-Fit Copper Wool. Price: $16 for a 20-foot roll at pest-control supply stores. Keep your garage doors shut as much as possible, and block any gaps around the edges of these doors with rubber strips. Rodents can cause thousands of dollars in damage by gnawing through a car’s wiring.
Not worth the money
Red fox urine, peppermint oil and other bottled scents sold as rodent deterrents are not very effective. “Sonic” mouse deterrents that claim to drive rodents away with a high-pitched noise also are virtually worthless.