How to Get Rid of Mice in the House
Mice in your house are insanitary and they have to go!
Having mice in your house is not only annoying, but also unhealthy. House Mice can carry Salmonellosis, while Deer Mice can transmit Hantavirus. You do not want mice loose in your home. But how to get rid of them?
There are a variety of ways that people get rid of mice, including live traps, kill traps, poison, cats, mouse repellents, blocking entry holes and removing attractants. The first five are aimed mainly at getting rid of the mice currently in your house, while the last two are unlikely to get rid of mice by themselves but are vital to any long-term solution.
How to Get Rid of Mice in Your House
Ending a current mouse problem is an unpleasant but necessary task. You have several options. The least unpleasant to use are mouse repellents. These include peppermint, spearmint, balsam fir, eucalyptus, cayenne pepper, formulations based on predator urine and ultrasound. Mice tend to get used to a particular repellent after you use it for a while, so you'll want to rotate them for best effect. A cat may also be considered a mouse repellent even if it doesn't hunt mice successfully. Unfortunately, it isn't a very effective repellent.
There are also live and kill traps, and poison. Poison is probably the most dangerous option to children and pets, and it results in dead mice decaying in places where you can't reach them. They then smell horribly as they decay. Kill traps can also be hazardous to children and pets, or to your fingers if you forget where they are. The safest of these methods is live trapping using a cage trap - some other types of live traps are less safe.
More detailed info on traps and repellents:
If you get rid of the things that are attracting the mice, then you will likely have fewer mice to deal with. Often, this is a food source. Soft material for bedding can also be attractive to mice. To deal with food, remove any spilled food that may be attracting mice, make sure leftovers are in the fridge or another mouse-proof place, and make sure all food is in mouse-proof places or containers. Fridges should be mouse-proof and many cupboards or cabinets are as well. Glass jars are mouse-proof, but cardboard and thin plastic are not. Mice can and will chew through them.
Keeping Mice and Rats OUT of Your House
If mice cannot enter your house, then you are unlikely to acquire a mouse problem. Mouse-proofing your house means finding and blocking all the holes they are using to get in and out. Mice are very good at slipping through small spaces. If the hole is larger than the mouse's skull is high, the mouse can enter by it. This means that a hole large enough to admit a pencil could potentially be an entry route for mice. This makes it awkward to find all the holes. Often you will find some holes that mice have been using, but miss others and still have a mouse problem. It may take you a while to find them all.
The nice thing about these methods is that they tend to reduce or prevent problems in future, and they also don't involve dealing directly with live, dead, or half-dead mice.
Once you have the holes blocked, you need to finish getting rid of any mice now stuck inside. Mouse repellents are useless for this as the mouse cannot leave even if it wants to - you will need traps or poison. If you use mouse repellents and get rid of mouse attractants before blocking the holes, then you will probably have fewer mice to get rid of.
How bad is a mouse problem?
How bad do you think it is to have mice in the house?
Pest Mice Species: House Mice, Deer Mice and Field Mice
There is more than one mouse species that could potentially be causing you problems. The House Mouse is the most likely culprit in most places, but it isn't the only one.
The House Mouse, Mus musculus is the mouse you are most likely to find in your house eating your food and leaving poop in unwanted places. As well as spoiling food and gnawing things, House Mice are a problem because food and food preparation surfaces contaminated by them can cause Salmonellosis food poisoning. House Mice are not normally a vector of Hantavirus, so at least that is one thing that is unlikely to be a problem if your mouse infestation is of House Mice only.
House Mice are grey or brown in color. Unlike Deer Mice, they do not have a white belly and feet. House Mice also have smaller eyes and ears than Deer Mice do. Pet mice are House Mice that have been bred to have pretty colors, but it is highly unlikely that the pests in your house are escaped pets.
House Mice usually eat cereals, and they are mainly nocturnal. They are skilled climbers, and can slip through cracks large enough to admit a pencil.
Deer Mice can be used to refer to a group of species in the genus Peromyscus, but more properly the Deer Mouse is Peromyscus maniculatus. Other Peromyscus species include the Cotton Mouse and the White Footed Mouse. They are not very closely related to the House Mouse, although they are very obviously mice to even a casual glance.
Deer Mice have a white belly, white feet, a white underside to the tail and a darker back that is some variation on brown. They have larger eyes and ears than House Mice do. They are nocturnal.
The Deer Mouse Peromyscus maniculatus is the primary vector for Hantavirus to be passed to humans. It is this potential for disease that makes them a pest to worry about. These species are native to North America, and can be found across much of the continent. They are more likely to be found outdoors than indoors, although they can be and are found indoors. Deer Mice have an important place in North American ecology as prey for owls and many other creatures that eat small mammals.
Field Mice are not actually a single species, but a term used for mice that are agricultural pests and are not likely to be found in your house unless it is an old house in a rural area. In Europe, field mice are often Harvest Mice, while in North America a 'field mouse' is likely to be a vole of the genus Microtus. There are many species of voles, a few of which are threatened. The different species of Microtus can be quite difficult to tell apart for non-specialists.
If field mice are annoying you, check the local species present in your area to make sure that they aren't likely to be a rare species before doing anything to kill them. Live trapping might be a good option for removing voles - so long as you also stop up the holes through which they are entering your house.