Buy and Set Lots of Traps
Anywhere you see mouse droppings is a primo place to set traps. And the more traps you set, the more mice you'll catch—period. So don't think you'll place a few traps around the house and take care of your mouse problem. Begin your mouse safari by concentrating on the worst room—the kitchen—and set six traps or so. You can use ordinary Victor traps. Before going to bed every night (they only come out at night), bait and set at least six traps.
Peanut Butter is the Best Bait
Many baits work well, but we recommend good, old peanut butter. (By the way, cheese is one of the least effective baits.) Here's a tip. Mark the top of the peanut butter bait jar and let your family know what it's for. Think about it: You're baiting the traps with peanut butter and then in the morning you might be spreading your toast with contaminated peanut butter. Use plastic knives and throw them away when you're through rebaiting and resetting traps. Better yet, keep the bait jar out of the kitchen altogether.
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Video: 11 Tips for Getting Rid of Mice
If your family cat has retired from mousing duty, watch this video from The Family Handyman editor, Travis Larson. He shares some of his best tips for catching mice without a cat. Can you beat 41 catches in three weeks?
Pet Food is a Problem and an Opportunity
We found a cache of cat food under the cushions of the couch in the basement. We were amazed that 3-in.-long animals hauled those food nuggets one at a time down 10 ft. of stairs (100 total feet) to stash them away. So we set three traps next to the cat dish (the cat wasn't interested in peanut butter—or catching mice), and caught eight mice in one week. Dogs love peanut butter just as much as mice do. So if you don't want Rex to get his tongue caught in a trap, let him sleep in your bedroom and keep the door closed. But near Rex's dish is an excellent place to put traps.
Look for the Pathways
A mouse is like Tarzan when it comes to climbing. In fact, a mouse can jump up to 8 in. and climb up electrical cords to get to other places. So if you find droppings in high places, look low and put your traps there.
The spaces under cabinets are like a freeway for mice. Pull out your bottom drawers and look for droppings. Put traps down there on the floor, replace the drawers and check them every morning.
Look for Wall Penetrations
Mice love to live inside walls where they're safe and warm. Look around to see where plumbing or anything else penetrates drywall or plaster and put traps just below it. That's where they'll come in at night to feed.
Look for Feeding Areas
Just like pet dishes, there are other sources of food. We have to admit that the stovetop in our shop isn't as clean as the stove in the house. So when we found mouse scat there, we put some traps there and caught five mice on the countertop nearby.
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Keep 'em Out!
When the temperature starts dropping, mice are looking for a warm, dry place with food and good nesting conditions. In other words, they want to live inside your house. They enter through the smallest imaginable holes and cracks. Young ones can worm their way through a 1/4-in. opening. Take a very close look around the outside of your house, and then caulk, plug or do whatever it takes to close every entry point you can find.
Worn weather stripping under doors can be a perfect, easy entry point for mice looking for a warm place to winter. Replacing it is usually as simple as taking the door off the hinges and slipping a new weather strip into the slots. Take the old weather stripping to the home center to find a match.
Place Traps Next to Vertical Surfaces
Mice are prey after all, so they're born scared. That means that they're terrified to be out in the open and prefer traveling close to walls. Once again, the more traps the better, especially in areas where you know mice are hanging out, usually where there's food.
Our Mouse-Trapping Philosophy
We know most people don't relish killing animals—even mice—but for us, it's the best choice. Here's our take on some other options:
- Live traps. Mice, by nature, build nests and store food. So you trap them this fall and let them go outside where they start their life anew, right? Well, that's not how it works. They have no food stored away and no nest to live in, and they'll most likely die of starvation and/or exposure.
- Poison. Most poisons are ingested and cause severe dehydration or blood coagulation. It's not a painless death.
- Live with the disease-carrying creatures. As they run around your floors, countertops, plates with leftovers and your pet's food dishes, they're leaving a trail of waste behind them. So, no.
- Sticky mouse traps. Then what? They're not dead and you have to either kill them with your shoe or throw them into the trash can where they'll die a slow, miserable death from thirst.
All this mouse-killing business isn't for the faint-of-heart. Sometimes, but not too often, mice don't get killed right away. And sometimes they suffer. But if you have a mouse problem and ignore it, you're putting your family's health at risk.