Mouse Control Strategies
The typical house mouse lives for only a single year, but during that year they can produce 5-10 litters of 5-6 babies, all of which are sexually mature at only 4 weeks. Besides reproducing at an alarming rate, mice can cause immense destruction as they chew, scratch, and contaminate food and water. They can bring fleas into your home (hitchhiking fleas on rodents were likely responsible for the spread of Black Plague in the Middle Ages) and carry and spread intestinal parasites, viruses and bacterial diseases. It is worth while learning how to deal with them and protect your home and belongings
Mouse-”proof” your house:
Mice can squeeze through openings as big as a dime and have incredibly sharp teeth and strong jaws, so true proofing may be impossible, but some things will make you a tougher target.
Outside, clear the area immediately around your home of debris and ensure that crawl spaces have tight covers and that other openings for dryer vents, plumbing, wires, cables, etc cannot be used as access points. Make needed repairs, stuff gaps with steel wool or fill larger openings with expanding foam. Store woodpiles off ground and away from house.
Inside, ensure that plumbing leaks are repaired quickly (these are huge draws for mice and rats), store food in sturdy, sealed containers off of floors and never leave food out at night, including pet dishes. Give the interior entry points of vents, plumbing, wires, cables, etc the same treatment as their exterior counterparts and fill any gap dime-sized or larger. Clean under appliances such as fridges and ovens, as these are common areas for food to escape notice.
Approaches to controlling:
Snap traps. Pros: Effective, cheap, kills quickly, somewhat reusable, (if you can stomach removing rodent corpses…) Cons: One mouse per trap, can trigger without catching a mouse (basketballs bounced indoors, for instance, will set them off), small mice may not trigger (I once had a trap licked clean, empty and unsprung in the morning), risk of pinched fingers. Use: set at night in places where you have found droppings. Mice usually hug a wall as they run, so set the traps parallel to and touching the wall so they don’t miss it. I’ve had the best success with the Victor brand traps with the big, fake cheese, but some people prefer the older ones with the metal pedal. I bait them with a little bit of peanut butter to tempt small, twitchy noses out of hiding.
Glue traps. Pros: Cheap, will catch multiple mice and other pests. Cons: May catch things you do not want caught, it is not a killing trap—you must dispatch the mice after they are caught. Set in the same places as snap traps. See here for more information.
Bait boxes. Pros: Good for large numbers of rodents, effective, reusable. Cons: Mice will sometimes die inside walls (smelly), there is a risk of poisoning other animals or people. Use: follow the manufacturer instructions, secure the box and keep well away from pets and children.
Cats. Pros: Will pursue prey rather than waiting for prey to come to it, eat a wide variety of rodents—wiped out a huge mole problem for us, more pleasant to live with than other control strategies. Cons: Require some feeding (though it’s pretty minimal for true barn cats) and medical care, indoor cats may cause allergic reactions in some, will toy with injured mice (poison may actually be a more humane death…), will sometimes abandon dead mice, will hunt birds with equal glee.