How To Effectively Get Rid Of Mice In Your Home
Last modified on: December 15, 2020
You’re a gracious host, but if there’s one group you’d prefer not to share your home with, it’s mice. In addition to damaging your home, mice carry diseases and can put your family’s health at risk. Fortunately, learning how to get rid of mice is easy.
Here at Smith’s Pest Management, we specialize in helping people get rid of mice in their walls, ceilings, insulation, and more. Our team offers various humane and eco-friendly rodent control services, and we know a thing or two about how to remove mice from your space.
In this post, we’ll share a few of our top tips and help you find the best rodent removal solution for your family. Let's dive in!
What Do Mice Look Like?
The house mouse is the most common mammal in the world. While they’re native to Central Asia, the mouse came to the Americas on the first European ships to arrive on the mainland. Today, they live in every state across North America.
Adults have small, slender bodies that weigh between 0.5-1 ounce. Their ears are large and almost hairless, while their tails are long, sparsely furred, and covered in scales. The fur is light brown or gray, with white or buff undertones. While mice in captivity live up to two years, wild mice live between 9-18 months.
Mice are highly adaptable and agile. They can jump twelve inches or higher and have excellent senses of smell and touch. While they have poor eyesight, their peripheral vision is adept at detecting movement, making them difficult to catch.
What Do Mice Eat?
Mice eat a varied diet. They prefer cereal, grains, and nuts but will eat whatever is available, including produce and pet food. They have sharp, durable teeth that allow them to chew through plastic packaging and rubber materials. This means they can access even sealed containers.
What Attracts Mice To My Home?
Right now, experts estimate that there is one rodent for every person in the U.S. These hardy creatures live in virtually every country and every type of terrain, from grasslands to forests and everything in-between.
While mice are good at making homes in the wild, they’re also happy to enter a warm home if given a chance. Here are three main things that attract mice inside:
As the weather cools down and winter sets in, mice make their way inside homes, seeking shelter and warmth. Thanks to their small bodies, they can fit through spaces as small as ¼ inch.
Mice need consistent food sources to stay alive. That means they’ll set up shop any place they can find enough food to sustain them.
3. Nesting materials
Mice make nests to birth and rear their babies. They prefer soft materials like shredded paper and cotton but will also use pet hair, insulation, and anything else they can get their paws on.
How Do I Know If I Have A Mouse Infestation?
While mice are tiny creatures, the clues they leave behind tend to be noticeable. Look for these sure-fire signs of a rodent infestation:
- Chew-or scratch-marks on shelves and around food packaging. You may also notice telltale scratches on baseboards or around floor trim.
- Food crumbs or debris on shelves, in the pantry, or unusual places - like the middle of the floor.
- Mouse droppings, which look like small, oblong pellets. These are common in well-used mouse corridors, under sinks, in the backs of cabinets, or in the corners of rooms. Use a flashlight to spot droppings more easily.
- Nests made of fabrics, shredded paper, pet hair, string, or other soft, shredded material.
- Noises like scratching or squeaking in the walls at night.
- Odd pet behavior such as barking and scratching or pawing at or under appliances. This may indicate your pets are aware of a pest infestation.
7 Ways To Get Rid of Mice Naturally And Humanely
If you have a mouse infestation in your home, it is possible to eliminate the animals without killing them.
Here are a few humane, yet effective tips:
1. Remove all food sources
Mice only need small amounts of food each day. To get rid of them in your home, remove the things they like to eat. Store all grains, pet food, and other dry goods in glass or metal containers, which keep food secure since mice cannot chew through them.
To avoid attracting mice to your property, seal all potential food sources in tamper-proof bins, avoid leaving pet food out for long periods, and clean up all spills and messes promptly.
Pros: Affordable, humane
Cons: Labor-intensive, must be maintained continuously, not 100% effective
2. Get rid of nesting materials
Ensure mice won’t find soft nesting materials by storing all fabric, rugs, and blankets in heavy-duty plastic storage bins. Keep in mind that mice will also chew up cardboard, paper, or lightweight plastic to make nests, so it’s wise to dispose of your household’s recycling quickly.
Additionally, pay some attention to the outside of your home. Remove foliage and tree branches within three feet of your home’s foundation, and keep both the inside and outside of your home tidy and free of garbage.
Pros: Protects your textiles and fabric goods, easy
Cons: Time-consuming, inconvenient to have bedding and rugs in storage, will not get rid of existing mouse populations
3. Seal entry points
As the temperature dips, mice will try to make their way inside. Block their entry by using caulk or weather-stripping to seal tiny holes in your foundation, siding, and doorways. Poke steel wool into vent openings to dissuade entry without restricting airflow.
Pros: Effective, eco-friendly, humane, safe for kids and pets
Cons: Labor-intensive, must be maintained and checked regularly
4. Use natural mice repellent
Mice have a strong sense of smell, and you can use that to your advantage to get rid of them. Try these natural mice repellant options:
- Essential oils. Mice hate the aroma of peppermint oil, cayenne, pepper, and cloves. Purchase any of these essential oils at your local health food store, soak some cotton balls in them, and place them anywhere you’ve had problems with mice - like under appliances or in the backs of cabinets. Toothpaste, bleach, and vinegar will also work.
- Apple cider and water. Make a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. Put it in a spray bottle and spray it around the perimeter of your house, as well as in any indoor access points. Re-apply any natural deterrent you use at least once a month.
- Fabric softener sheets. Stuff these sheets into entry points to stop mouse traffic immediately.
Pros: Effective, affordable, humane, safe for kids and pets
Cons: Requires regular re-application, will not get rid of large existing mouse populations
5. Get a cat
Cats are some of the most effective mouse deterrents out there. If you can adopt a cat to help keep your mouse population down, do it. If you live in a place that doesn’t allow cats, find a friend that has one and place tubs of used kitty litter at the entrances to your home. Mice may vacate the premises upon smelling cat urine.
Alternately, go to the store and buy some pure ammonia. Ammonia smells like the urine of a predator and will deter mice. Leave ammonia-soaked cotton balls in places the mice like to frequent.
Pros: Effective way to get rid of mice
Cons: Not applicable to people who live in homes or apartments that do not allow animals
6. Try live traps
Live traps can get rid of mice without poison and without harming pets. These traps catch mice in a large box that allows them to get in but not out. Once you’ve caught a mouse, be sure to release it at least a mile from your home. Otherwise, it may come back again.
Pros: Effective, humane, can make quick work of existing mouse populations
Cons: Labor-intensive, must set, bait, check, and empty traps regularly
7. Use sound
Ultrasonic units can be effective at keeping mice away. Plus, these deterrent devices are safe for kids, pets, and other animals. Find them at your local hardware store and place them anywhere you’ve noticed mouse activity in your home.
Pros: Effective, low-profile, low-maintenance
Cons: Requires altering the aesthetic of your home, ultrasonic devices must be checked and placed manually
3 Conventional Methods To Get Rid Of Mice
If you’d like to take a conventional approach to get rid of mice, these methods are an option:
Trapping is the fastest way to get rid of mice. While live traps catch mice and allow you to release them, other traps kill the mice on contact, making quick work of mouse populations.
Classic wooden snap traps are adequate for light mouse infestations, while bait traps and multiple-capture traps are ideal for larger mouse populations. Traps can be baited with peanut butter, bacon, or dried fruit.
Pros: Effective, fast-acting
Cons: You may have to set multiple traps to catch just a few mice, you need to check traps and dispose of dead mice, glue traps are inhumane, baited traps may attract household pets and other animals, mice frightened by traps may spray urine, thereby spreading toxins and disease.
Bait stations are sealed packets that contain poison meal or pellets meant to kill mice. These packets are sealed in plastic, paper, cellophane, or other material mice can chew through easily. When the mice eat this bait, they die.
Smith’s Pest Management does not use or condone bait stations. If you live in California and want to use bait stations, be sure you understand California’s laws surrounding the use of rodenticides.
Pros: Effective, fast-acting
Cons: Dangerous, expensive, inhumane, requires application only by a licensed professional, may harm kids, pets, and other wildlife, you must search the house to find dead mice who have consumed the poison, mice may spread or spit out poison in different areas of the home.
While there is a selection of natural repellents available to deter mice, Smith’s Pest Management also uses professional repellants for severe infestations. We place these repellants strategically to get rid of rodents and help you reclaim your property.
Pros: Effective, humane, eco-friendly
Cons: Requires re-application, time-intensive
How Do Exterminators Get Rid Of Mice?
When it comes to rodent control, our team uses various tactics, depending on the situation.
Here are the three steps Smith’s Pest Management takes:
1. Initial consultation
Each project we begin starts with a phone consultation and onsite inspection. During this phase, our team will identify the access points mice are using to get into your home, look for signs of mice, such as droppings and damage, and gauge the severity of the infestation.
2. Action plan
Once we’ve gathered that information, we’ll establish a management plan using a selection of practical, natural, humane, and holistic methods.
3. Rodent control
Finally, we’ll deploy our selected rodent control method so you can get life back to normal. We rely heavily on trapping, which contains and removes mice without risking wildlife, pets, and children.
Our professionally-trained staff has years of experience in the pest-management world and is specially equipped to help you navigate your pest control issues with humane, no-kill methods.
How Do I Keep Mice Out Of My House?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Instead of coping with a mouse infestation once you have it, follow these tips to keep mice out of your home in the first place:
1. Use a mouse-proof barrier
When you find mouse access points in your home, seal them with steel wool, metal sheeting, or other material mice can’t chew through. A combination of caulk and steel wool also works well.
2. Mind your weather stripping
Worn-out weatherstripping is an invitation for mice to enter your house. With this in mind, replace loose weather stripping around your home’s windows, doors, and basement foundation.
3. Add screens
Place durable wire screens over vents, openings to chimneys, and any other gaps. Consider also installing door sweeps on all exterior doors and repairing damaged screens.
4. Place a dehumidifier
Make your home a less appealing mouse habitat by keeping attics, crawl spaces, and basements dry and well-ventilated by placing a dehumidifier in these places.
5. Keep exterior doors closed
Keep exterior doors closed tightly at all times, or install a screen door to keep pests out.
6. Be mindful of what you bring in
Before you bring in the holiday decorations or last season’s ski clothing, inspect all items carefully to ensure mice aren’t living within them.
7. Keep your landscaping neat
Store all firewood at least 20 feet from the house, and keep shrubs, trees, and other landscaping trimmed back from your foundation and siding.
Are Mice Taking Over Your San Francisco Bay Area Home? We’re Here To Help!
Few things are as frustrating as a mouse infestation. Fortunately, the team here at Smith’s Pest Management can help you identify and cope with mouse problems—reclaiming your space once and for all.
Our team helps residential and commercial properties in Northern California get rid of mice and protect their space. We also work with commercial facilities to eradicate mice in an eco-conscious way. Ready to learn more? Contact us now!
Author Bio: Zach Smith
Landscape Pro Turned Gopher Pro: Owner, Zach Smith, graduate of Cal Poly’s Horticulture program worked nine years as a landscape professional- dealing with gophers, moles, and ground squirrels and was quickly recruited by other local gardeners. Fast forward to the past 10+ years, where Zach and his team trap and remove burrowing pests from residential, municipal and commercial properties throughout the San Francisco Bay area, from Marin to Monterey.
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