Ways to eliminate field mice in your house
Getting Rid of Field Mice
TDS Reader Contributors
EEK !! How Can I Eliminate a Field Mice Invasion?
I live on one acre in the country and am having big problems with field mice. I have trapped 20 in the last three weeks and they are driving me crazy. Any suggestions on getting rid of the critters? Can't have a cat, the dog won't allow it! What about poisons? Won't they die in the house (yuck!) Any suggestions welcome for getting rid of field mice.
I saw this on TV just a few days ago. Put sweet, carbonated soda in a saucer and place where the mice can drink from it. The carbonization kills the mice; that way you won't have to use poisons or traps, especially if you have small children around.
I have a rather frugal option for getting rid of field mice that an old farmer told me about and it really does work: Use instant mashed potatoes; they are much cheaper and alot safer than rat posions. Place a few tablespoons where the mice are seen most often; try to keep them out of reach of the dog, just to be safe. The mice will eat the instant potatoes and die because the potatoes will expand in their stomachs before they can fully digest them. Most likely, the mice will die in the house if that is where they are living, but it's better to have dead mice than live ones! As for the dog and his/her intolerance of a cat: you may be very surprised! We now have 5 cats (1 indoor, 4 barn cats) and I would have never thought my dog would tolerate cats. She actually enjoys them and plays with them for hours. Since getting the cats, my mouse problem is over!
Attract an Owl
As a wildlife rehabilitator, I see many cases of animals suffering from secondary poisoning and would highly recommend that you find an alternative to using pesticides. You see, any rodent suffering from these poisons is an easy prey item for other animals including: birds of prey such as hawks and owls, domestic cats, and even your own dog (The dog that lives on the farm where my husband works nearly died this year from eating rodent poison). These animals will most likely suffer from secondary poisoning and die. One possible alternative to using poison is to attract a natural enemy of the rodents to your property. Owls, such as screech owls, eat rodents. You can attract an owl to your property by putting up a nestbox for it to roost and nest in. Not only will this rid you of some of the rodents, but it is completely natural and probably cheaper than chemical pesticides. Nestboxes can usually be found at a garden center or wild bird store. The rehabilitation facility I volunteer with also sells them, if you cannot find any in your area. Feel free to contact me with any questions about owls or nestboxes.
Melissa A. G.
Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator
Chocolate Plaster of Paris
This tip was passed along to us by a woman who lived in a Catskill Farmhouse for years, and even though we were suburb dwellers, it turned out to be the only thing that helped get rid of our mice. Take plaster of Paris (dry) and mix it with chocolate milk powder and set it so the mice can eat it. It will be a dry powder. The good idea about this mixture is that the mice will leave the house to find water after they eat it so they will not die in the house. It is also basically non-toxic, having no poison in it. It worked for us, and we had quite a few mice that we could not get rid of other ways. I guess mice love chocolate too.
In response to Dawn's the field mice problem: One suggestion is steel wool. stick steel wool in any crevice or hole you might find in your garage or outside your house. This works and can prevent the spread of disease and odor.
Seal the Holes
Try getting a few cans of foam insulation and plug up all the holes around your foundation, the holes around the base of your siding, and so on. It worked for me, back when I had a farm house.
Do you keep the dog an indoors or is it an outside dog? If you keep your dog indoors, you could keep a cat outside. If you keep your dog outside, you could keep a cat indoors. If you are absolutely set against getting a cat, you could use one of those resettable mousetraps -- You wind it up, and it catches (and keeps) up to 20 live mice at a time. At the end of the day (or whenever you choose), you simply dump the mice into a deep bucket of water. It takes about 30 minutes for them to drown. I know that this sounds yucky, but it's better than having your house run over by mice. These resettable traps can be kept indoors or outdoors. The problem with poison is that once the mouse dies, predators will eat the poisoned mice and die. BTW, dogs *do* eat mice (or at least my dogs do).
A Couple of Choices
We also have a home in a rural area. This time of year the little mouse critters are all searching for a nice, warm home, preferably where humans also provide food!
The first step is to eliminate the food supply. Keep dog food, bird seed, animal feed of all types, in covered containers. Soaps, garden seeds, food storage, kitchen pantry- everything must be kept in containers, and spills cleaned up.
The next thing is to invest in mousetraps that are economical and can be used over and over. During periods where you have many mice at a time, the multi-catch live traps are a good item. I have caught up to 8 mice a day in a live trap. Of course you have to deal with the cute little things- drowning in a 5 gallon bucket works for me. (Yeah, my conscience occasionally bothers me, but with the nasty virus they carry, I do them in anyway. I do try to make it a quick demise). Another effective mousetrap is called "the better mousetrap". Here is one time where performance meets the advertising. These traps are costly- 3.00 each- but can be used over and over. I have used mine for several years. Bait them with a small amount of peanut butter, and place them in closets, under shelves, above ceiling tiles, near doors, under sinks, behind stoves, etc.
Poison has been in my 'no' file since I lost a cat. My best mouser ate a mouse poisened with stuff the previous owners had left. Dogs will occasionally eat a mouse, and poisoned mice move slowly enough for even an ancient mutt to catch. We also had several mice die in the wall the first year, I suspect again from left-over poison. Phew!! We were forced to leave windows open (in -15F weather), and survived the 2 weeks until the smell abated by constantly burning candles near the affected walls.
Finally, or perhaps FIRST, plug all the obvious holes! Use fine steel wool to stuff around pipes and drainage holes. Walk around the house foundation and fix any obvious entry ways. Remove top shelves in unfinished basements and garages to prevent mice from using them as ladders to the inside of walls and cielings. Remember that mice can fit through spaces much smaller than their bodies, and baby mice in holes smaller still!
Of course, if cats won't fit into the household, you could always get a second dog. Terriers can be super mousers!
Riddex Electronic Repeller
I would highly recommend the Riddex Electronic Pest Repeller. I know, your probably saying, yeah sure, those things don't work. I'm a pretty cynical person myself, but my apartment building has roaches and I'm scared to death of them. So I figured, for $50. bucks, it was worth a try. It's been two years and I haven't seen a roach yet. My apartment is inspected by a pest control company every few months and they have found no evidence of roaches either.
All you do is plug it in. It works with your electrical wiring and it aggravates the pests nervous system so they just go somewhere else. It doesn't kill them, they just don't like it so they leave and don't come back. It's perfectly safe for your dog, he will never know it's there. I have two cats, no problem. You don't have to worry about chemicals, or the stench of dead mice in your house. There are many of these products on the market but I wouldn't recommend you buy them. The Riddex, IMHO, is worth it's weight in gold!
Expect a Battle!
Dawn, you don't say if the mice are in your home, but I assume they are. We had a similar problem last year. We trapped over 2 dozen little critters and were still finding them everywhere. I finally called a pest control company and this is what I have learned from them.
Mice naturally look to come into a warm home this time of year. You need to do as much as possible to eliminate their method of entry. Take tubes of "expanding goo" that you can purchase in any home store and seal any and all cracks into your home. If you have a garage, focus a lot of attention there.
Remove the food source. Mice love to eat grass seed. Many people store this in their garage. If you have some, put it in an airtight container so the mice aren't attracted. Same goes for dog food. Dog food is VERY popular with rodents. If your dog is fed outside, be sure only to feed him when he is hungry and only feed him the amount he will eat at one serving. Don't leave dog food lying around the house. We had a ton that our visitors had carried into various corners of the basement. Also, be sure to store your dog food in an airtight container as well. Rodents can smell through the paper and will eat through the bag to get to the food.
You don't mention if yours is a new home or not but here is some depressing news. Once you have had a rodent problem, you will probably continue to have some problem. Rodents can smell the old urine from other rodents. Thus, in future years, rodents may continue to try to enter your home at this time of year while leaving your neighbors' homes alone. Try is the key word here.
If you continue to be vigilant, you should not have a recurring problem. As I mentioned, we trapped over 2 dozen mice ourselves last summer. We also had several nests in the insulation of our unfinished basement. After following the above recommendations, we saw 2 mice earlier this fall in the garage, but none penetrated into our home.
As far as trapping and baiting go, here is what I learned. Mice are smart. Why do you think they are used in labratory testing? You may have some success with baiting and trapping (peanut butter makes excellent bait). Eventually, though, the mice learn to avoid the traps. They will leave an appetizing piece of bait alone because they have seen what happens to foolish mice who take the bait. This was the point where I brought in the professionals.
I was worried about poisons because of two small children and two small dogs. The poisons used by pest professionals are wonderful. The type used in my traps - which are left year round in my garage as it is the first point of entry - contain poisions that make the mice thirsty. They leave the home, or garage in search of their water supply and die outside. After all the problems I initially encountered, I never saw a single dead mouse in or around my home. The bait/poison is very effective. Also, the traps are closed so that a pet or a child cannot get at the poison.
Also, sticky pads work wonderfully. These are typically scented like peanut butter. The mice are attracted by the smell and when they run over to see what smells so good, they get stuck on a substance like thick goo. In their attempt to free themselves, they end up killing themselves (sorry to be so unpleasant) by flipping around. These pads are also nice for trapping stray insects or lizzards, both of which we have caught. These can be purchased in a home store as well. Here's a hint. These pads are extremely sticky. If you use them and something gets stuck that you don't want, cooking oil will enable you to remove the item.
Use Poison Carefully
I definately wouldn't recommend poison if you have small children or pets, it's very harmful to both. If you still feel like you need to put poison out, put it where it can't be reached by little exploring fingers or hungry pets (like under the locked sink where you keep cleaners for example). Keep the lid on the toilet down, plug up any leaks in the pipes, and don't leave dishes to soak overnight. When the mice eat the poison, the first thing they'll do is look for some water, not a pretty thought finding a dead rodent in the house. If they can't find any water to drink inside, they'll go outside and eventually die. This is the time of the year where thousands of houses find field mice, they're coming inside for food and a warm place to live. I've found my first mice this winter and I wouldn't get down from that chair for the life of me!
Keep a Mouser
My mother, who hated vermin, always kept a mouser. usually a yellow tabby tom named Tom. Get a teenaged kitten from a good-mouser mama cat. treat it well and "people it up." you won't have any mice. your children will learn how to be kind and caring to animals and you'll have "fur therapy."
We moved into a house with woods on three sides and a mouse next in the stove and in the kitchen cabinets. one gray tabby cat from the pound cleared all the mice out within three days and they never came back.
If you honestly hate cats, don't torture the cat or yourself by trying to co-habitate. Just learn to be a cat-hater who enjoys mice.
You can have a dog and a cat. we always had and continue to have both. the trick is to get 'em both in puppyhood-kittenhood. also buy a 70 cent plant mister at K-Mart and hit the non-hospitable one with a spritz of water if territorial spats break out. it'll all calm down soon. as long as you leave the cat at least its back claws, the dog can't do it harm.
Bacon Fat High Wire Act
Years ago, our weekend cabin in the woods was overrun by field mice. My father used an old galvanized water tub (2 to 3 feet across, depth doesn't realy matter), and stretched a wire across it, securing the wire to the handles of the tub. Strung on this wire was a tin can with a hole punched in each end so that it would spin on the wire. Coat the can with bacon fat and fill the tub with water.
The mice would go crazy trying to get the bacon fat - of course if they made it across the wire to the can, the can would spin them into the water and they would drown. After a week away from the cabin, we would often find dozens of mice in the tub.
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Eliminate Mice's Shelter
When I moved to a house in country, near a corn field, I had mice everywhere. I found the real trick to getting rid of them was to destroy thier shelter. Mine were living in an accumulation of lumber and junk piled high in two sheds. Once I removed all the junk, the mice had no where to seek shelter.
I also used poison and now have cats. I am a firm believer in poison in the house, to get rid of the mice that are actually in the house. A word of caution though, my first cat got into the poison and died. To get rid of mice you must prevent them from finding food, shelter, and safety in your house. Commercial mouse poison works well. The mice may die in your house, but they dry up so fast they almost never cause any odors. A poisoned mouse will normally crawl into a hiding place to die, so you shouldn't find them laying around.
Cats are another good way to keep mice away. You state the dog doesn't like cats, but cats can be kept outside away from the dog in almost any climate.
I have the same problem in my trailer every fall eliminating field mice. I use D-Con.
They eat some and then shrivel up when they die. There's no smell.
Reviewed January 2018
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