Christmas mice

A mouse next to a Christmas ornamentMaggie and I have a mouse problem. I’ve never seen them, but sometimes you can hear them in the kitchen when you’re in the living room. We weren’t sure what the noise was until they chewed through a plastic container to get at some granola (maybe they’re hippie mice). Since then, we’ve found lots of mouse droppings on the counters. Luckily, they don’t seem to have gotten into the cabinets where we keep the food. Instead, they’ve contented themselves with wandering through our drying dishes.

The only mice I’ve had contact with before have been in cages, so I’m not really sure what to do. Even discounting any moral problems, traditional traps seem messy and problematic with a dog in the house (she’s definitely not a ratter). Poison is right out for similar reasons. The catch-and-release traps seem neat. I ran across one with a cracker barrier so that you don’t even have to touch in when you let it go. On the other hand, that’s a lot of plastic and I don’t really know where we’d let them go.

I did some research and found a bunch of homemade repellants and traps. An easy homemade traditional trap is to get “mouse glue” at your hardware store and put it at the bottom of a paper bag. Put some food in there as bait and the mouse will get stuck. It’s not very humane, though, since you can’t unstick them. About.com had an interesting alternative: a peanut butter bucket. Basically, you smear peanut butter on the inside of a bucket and create stairs up to the outside. The mouse goes up the stairs and into the bucket to get the peanut butter and then can’t get out, so you can pick the bucket up and release them somewhere else.

They also suggest putting peppermint oil on cotton balls and placing them along the mouse paths. If peppermint oil seems too simple to work, there’s also fake bobcat urine! We’ll probably try the peppermint oil to keep them away from the counters, but that seems unlikely to get rid of them entirely.

If we could find out where they’re coming in, we could plug those spaces with steel wool. Unfortunately, the crawlspace is pretty open to outside and there’s only the flooring between it and the main house, so there are lots of possible ways to get in. We’ve plugged up the holes we can find, but it hasn’t helped.

The ultrasonic mouse repellers sound cool, but I don’t know how well they work. $50 is quite a bit to spend on something that might not work.

Have any of you had mouse infestations? How did you deal with it? If you have any tricks for figuring out where the mice are coming from, that would be especially appreciated!

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6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Ian said,

    December 10, 2008 @ 8:35 pm

    At my friends’ place in Indy, I used standard traps, set in places the dog could not reach (pushed in via broom, generally) Not necessarily nice, and sometimes mildly traumatizing when the trap doesn’t fully kill the mouse an dI had to finish the deed, but fairly effective. Granted, I think we had a much more severe problem, what with me getting a good 8+ in a few weeks that way.

    For note, if you don’t solve the entry problem, they will come back around this time next year, more than likely. Our houses are nice and warm, and it’s cold outside, after all.

  2. 2

    Gini said,

    December 14, 2008 @ 7:29 pm

    The guy who got rid of the bats in our attic said not to bother with the sonic devices. He said that though they annoy the critters at first, the critters become acclimated and then ignore them.

  3. 3

    Emily said,

    December 15, 2008 @ 4:57 pm

    I swear by The Better Mousetrap, baited with peanut butter. They are not messy, are very easy to set, and make it easy to dispose of the mouse. They are also as quick (<10 seconds) and humane a kill as you’re going to get – waaaaaay better than glue traps.

    You want to put them up against a wall or baseboard (or countertop backsplash), with the bait facing the wall. Mice don’t like to cross open spaces. Between the fridge and cabinet or wall is a good spot, and hard for the dog to get to. We’ve also put them up in the drop ceiling in the basement, with a string attached for easy retrieval. Keep resetting it until you go a week with no more mice. When we lived in the woods, we’d get a string of invaders every day for a week every fall, then no more until a similar run in the spring.

  4. 4

    Student Doctor Green said,

    December 16, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

    Alright I know it’s probably evil but one of the “poison” they use in mouse traps is actually a human medication, a “blood thinner” called Warfarin. It interferes with clotting and causes the mice to bleed to death. While it sounds gruesome I’m not entirely convinced it would be painful. The drug might be painful for other reasons but someone bleeding to death is going to pass out from the blood loss. I tried to find some info about whether it’s painful or not for mice but didn’t locate anything. If there’s a dog in the equation then you probably don’t want to you use it but otherwise I’m not entirely convinced it would be evil, especially if it is a painless death, which it very well may not be.

    It looks like the main thing people seem to believe the mice on Warfarin suffer from is insatiable thirst.

  5. 5

    Will said,

    December 17, 2008 @ 11:47 pm

    Thanks for all the advice, everyone! I think we’ve found out generally where they’re coming from (along the gas line leading to the stove), so we just need to get rid of the ones we’ve got and then plug up the hole. Eventually, we’d also like to seal up the crawlspace (to reduce heating needs, but keeping the mice out will be a nice benefit).

  6. 6

    Three wise mice | GreenCouple.com said,

    December 19, 2008 @ 6:53 pm

    […] weekend, so instead of a podcast, I’ll give you an update on our mouse problem. After getting lots of good advice about getting rid of mice, Maggie and I went to the hardware store and got a live mouse trap and an ultrasonic […]

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