How to get rid of mice

We never have mice in our house in the summer. Apparently the detached garage and stone patio wall are good enough for them during warm weather. But once the temperature dips into the low 60s at night, a tiny “Vacancy” sign must light up and the mice start trying to “check in" to our house for the winter.

About a week ago, we noticed a little pile of fresh debris under the threshold of the back door where mice had started tunneling their way in. Sure enough, there was a new hole there, about the size of a nickel. We always have steel wool around for just such situations (copper mesh is even better because it won’t rust), and we crammed the hole full. Mission accomplished. Ha! The next day there was a new nickel-size hole just to the left of the edge of the steel wool. So we dug all along the threshold and filled the whole space. Apparently the sensation of metal on teeth isn’t any more pleasant for mice than it is for people, because it works! Especially in the fall, you have to be diligent about filling all the little holes around the house, either with caulk or cement or steel wool.

Mice are crazy tenacious…but with some work and diligence you have a better chance of keeping your home mouse-free. Reading How to Have a Mouse-Free House is a good start.


And if, despite your best efforts, mice have taken up residence, here's some good advice about trapping:


• Snap-type mousetraps,when well placed, can be an effective way to rid your house of mice. Snap traps may seem cruel, but compared with a slow death from a glue trap or poisoned bait, they’re a more humane way to exterminate mice. And because you toss the remains in the garbage, there are no dead mouse surprises to encounter later.

• Common mistakes are poor placement of traps and using too few of them. Mice have poor vision and prefer to feel their way along walls. Place snap traps along walls in areas where you’ve seen the telltale brown pellets. For an average-size house, two dozen mousetraps would not be too many!

• The best technique is to set two traps, parallel to the wall, with the triggers facing out. While mice can jump over one trap, they can’t jump two. Favorite baits of professional exterminators are chocolate syrup and peanut butter. Live traps are best used in pairs in the same manner as conventional mousetraps. Place them back-to-back with the open doors on each end.

— Mary Flanagan, Associate Editor

For more advice on ridding your house of rodents and insects, check out these articles:
- How to Keep Pests Out of Your House
- How to Install a Dryer Vent That Keeps Out Pests
- How to Trap Moles
- Control Bugs