07.10.10

Wild Mice

Posted in Wild Mice at 5:39 pm by Administrator

Removing Wild Mice From Your Home

Deer Mouse

1. Identifying the rodent species in your home.

  • Unfortunately you need to know the specific rodent that is calling your home their house.   The rodent control experts have specifically engineered traps, poisons and baits for almost every species of rodent.    For the purpose of this article we are going to focus on wild mice and not the common house mouse.
  • There are basically four types of wild mice in the United States that commonly enter homes for various reasons.

Deer Mice

Deer Mice

Meadow Mouse

Meadow Mouse

Harvest Mouse

Harvest Mouse

Field Mouse

Field Mouse

House Mouse

House Mouse

The House Mouse is listed for comparison purposes only.

  • One clue as to the identity of your mice problem is the food that is being consumed.  Wild mice will typically eat grains, seeds and other unprocessed foods.  A favorite food of wild mice is bird seed and you may find evidence of chewing or worse yet a hole in the bag or container you are using to store treats for your feathered friends.  The typical house mouse will eat almost anything from scraps that fall off the table to cracker crumbs on the living room carpet.
  • If you are lucky enough to get a good view of the critter there are a few things you can look for that will identify, which culprit is invading the sanctity of your home.
    • If the body of the mouse is dark brownish on the back and a silvery color on the stomach, then look at the head.  If the head has large bulging eyes and really big ears, you are probably looking at a Field Mouse.
    • If the stomach is definitely white and you can see the tail is not all one color, you are probably looking at a Deer Mouse.
    • If the mouse appears to have half oval ears that sit fairly close to the head and a short hairy tail, you are probably looking at a Meadow Mouse.
    • If the body of the mouse is reddish brown and the under-side is whitish, then look at the head.  If the eyes do not appear to protrude and the ears are relative to the head size, then you are probably looking at a Harvest Mouse.
    • If the mouse appears to be all the same color and the length of its tail is about the same as the length of its body, then take a look at the head and feet.  If the head and feet appear to be proportional to the rest of the body, then you are probably looking at a House Mouse.

2. Determining the extent of your rodent problem.

  • Listen closely in your home you may hear rustling or other noises coming from the walls or attic.  If you always hear the noises in the same place or there appears to be lots of activity in a specific location, you might have found where the mice are entering and exiting your home or possibly the location of a nest.
  • Look around your home for perfectly round circles chewed in bags, containers, walls or floorboards.  Your typical wild mouse can enter through a hole slightly smaller than a dime.
  • Look around your baseboards, behind a stove, refrigerator or under a cabinet.  If your see small ¼ inch or less in length cylindrical shaped black specks that appear to be tapered on both ends, you are probably seeing mouse droppings.   When looking at the baseboards, look for discoloration or signs of urination where the baseboard meets the floor.  Mice tend to run along the edge of items more frequently than crossing an open area.
  • If you are still not sure if you have a mouse problem, then you might have to get a little creative to learn the truth.  Today we have the advantage of video and web cameras that can easily be turned on to record a brief period of time.  Place some grain or seed in a small lid top and smear a little peanut butter on one edge.  Set the bait in an area you believe the mice are traveling and turn on your nanny cam or other recording device.  You may have to try it a couple of nights in a row to ensure accuracy.  If your recording don’t show any mice or you don’t have a recording device, relax there is another method you can employ.  If you have talcum powder you’re in good shape, if not don’t fret, just run some flour through your cake sifter onto some wax paper.  Go to any room or area with a non-carpeted floor and sprinkle your powder along the baseboard, the sprinkled area should be about six inches in length and three inches in width and on either side of all entrances to that room.  If you have mice, you should see little foot prints in the powder.  Another high tech solution would be to use an ultra violet light to fluoresce the rodent urine.  You can purchase a flashlight style ultra violet light at  http://store.doyourownpestcontrol.com/default.aspx – UV Pro Tracker for under $50.00
Mouse Tracks
Mouse Tracks

3. Potential problems with mouse infestations.

  • Mice can be carriers of a few diseases that are transmittable to humans.
    • Hantavirus
    • Lyme Disease
    • Salmonellosis

Almost every predator loves to snack on these little critters and you could be giving them an open invitation to visit you and your home.

  • Here is a brief list of some of the other creatures, which might call on your home for a quick snack.
    • Snakes.
    • Birds of Prey.
    • Stray Cats
    • Foxes
    • Weasels

Bull Snake

Bull Snakes Love Mice

  • Mice love to chew.
    • A mouse does not just chew a hole in a bag for food, they will also chew holes
      • Walls
      • Floors
      • Roofing
      • Electrical wiring.

4. Mouse eradication process.

  • Disruption.
    • Disrupt their food supply.
      • Place bird seed in a metal container.
      • Do a walkthrough of your entire home and note any food sources that might attract rodents.  Your list should contain any food that is purposefully placed on the ground, such as pet food or spills from finicky birds or other caged animals that toss uneaten particles out of their cage.  Look inside pantries and under cabinets for bagged food, which could be providing the rodents nutrients.  It is important that you dispose of any food items that you believe the mice have already gained access into, even if it looks like they just nibbled a little out of the corner of a bag.  Now the important part, take your list and fix everything you noted.  Elevate the dog or cat dishes a few inches off the floor.  Place any bagged food items in either tins or other mouse proof containers.
  • Exclusion
    • Exclusion is preventing the rodents from entering your home from the outside.  The rodent population you currently have inside will be dealt with later on in this guide.
      • Walk around your foundation and fill any cracks or holes with either course steel wool or Stuffit© and then seal the opening with caulk or your favorite type sealer.
      • Check the front back and side of your home for any openings.  These could be where a knot in a plank of wood fell out, a place where a woodpecker drilled a hole or where a mouse chewed through.  Fill the hole and seal it.
      • Now you want to ensure that all your screens fit nice and tight, your screen doors or screened patios don’t have holes.  Check your doors to make sure the weather stripping has no holes or gaps and that your dryer vent is a modern vent that automatically opens when the dryer is on and closes when it is finished.  Check the rubber on the bottom of your garage doors and ensure you have a good fit when the doors are closed.
      • Mice are really good climbers and can scale surfaces you might not think about, so we have to prevent their entry up high as well.  Look at your soffiting and make sure it is good repair, especially where it comes in contact or close proximity to the roof or a tree branch.  Make sure attic vents are properly screened and free of holes.  Ensure you have wire caps on your chimneys and any open pipes that do not have covers.
  • Deterrents
    • Now we need to take a look at the areas surrounding the home.  Wild mice have lots of predators, so they really don’t like to be out in the open or without a hiding spot.
      • Start by mowing the yard and weed eating around gardens and bushes.  Long grass or weeds give mice great cover from all natural predators.
      • Make sure wood piles are a significant distance from your home and not just stacked up alongside the house or garage.
      • Trim the underside of any bushes that are next to the house, ideally you want just a couple of inches of clear space between the ground and the start of the bush.
      • Ideally you should have a 6 to 10 inch clearing starting from the foundation and extending away from the home that is free of mulch and other debris.  Small rocks or pebbles work well as a substrate for this clearing.  This area is like a magic line as the mouse is completely exposed to any and all predators while in this area and that just is not a comfortable position for any critter on the main menu.
      • Lastly pick up any debris piles in your yard that a mouse might use as cover when running from one location to another.
  • Understanding Your Rodents
    • For the most part rodents are nocturnal, so you are more likely to see them in the early morning or evening.
    • Rodents are a primary food source for many predators, so they typically like to move in stealth mode, where they are less likely to be spotted.  In most cases when we see a mouse, it is because they are scurrying between protective cover locations and the sudden movement catches our eyes.  In most cases they will travel along a wall, behind furniture, in cabinets, under appliances or in our walls and attics.
    • A little mouse might look cute, but a female mouse is able to breed at about 6 weeks of age and in general will have around 7 to 10 litters of 5 to 7 pups a year.  As you can see an infestation of mice can happen very quickly and within a few months, you can literally be overran with mice.
    • Most mice will only venture a short distance from their nests, usually no more than 10 meters or 30 feet.
  • Capturing or termination of existing populations.
    • Preparing the inside of your home for the removal of rodents.
      • In this step of our guide we literally need to clean house.  You can either do it yourself or pay a maid service to come in and either do it for you or lend you a helping hand.  Basically you have to remove the clutter from your home and your garage, this means organizing your closets, pantries and cabinets.  You want to remove anything that can be used as shelter by a mouse and facilitate the placements of baits, poisons or traps.
    • Live Trapping
      • There are several traps available for removing mice without injury and these traps can be purchased online or any hardware store.
      • Follow the directions for setting and baiting the traps you purchased and practice a couple of times in a well lit area, so you are familiar with the operation of the trap.  I personally would bait the trap with some bird seed and a little dab of peanut butter placed on a piece of bread.  This method of baiting is attractive to both wild mice and house mice and it really does not matter, which one you catch as you want all of them evicted from your home.
      • Place the live traps under cabinets, behind furniture, in bedroom closets or utility closets where children and pets are less likely to disturb them.  If you do not have pets or young children, you would want to place the traps along well traveled walls.
      • Two nice inexpensive traps are the Tip Trap and the Victor live trap.  These are both relatively small traps and make for easy placement.

    Tip Trap

    Tip Trap

    Victor Live Trap

    Victor Live Mouse Trap

    • Death Traps
      • These traps generally kill the immediately, however there are some like the glue boards where death is not as quickly administered.
      • Follow the directions for baiting and setting the traps and again practice a few times in a well lit area, until you’re comfortable setting them.  I like to bait these types of traps with a peanut butter ball that I have mixed with some flour and seeds, until it forms a firm ball.  You can use a manufactured mouse attractant like Bell Provoke if you prefer and can easily purchase it online.
      • Just like live trapping, you want to place the traps where they will not be disturbed by children or pets.
      • You can purchase death traps at most stores, from the tried and true spring trap made by victor or any of the other brands you desire.

Victor Mouse Trap

Victor Mouse Trap

  • DIY Traps
    • Mice have a way of bringing out the evil in people and the do it yourself traps range from safe and effective to bizarre and extremely dangerous.
    • Perhaps one of the most effective and safest traps I have seen is the bucket trap, which can be made to either live catch the rodent or kill it.  You can get directions for making it readily online and the assembly requires basically a drill, a coat hanger, a bucket and a soda can.
    • I have seen DIY traps that fling the rodent into an object with such force as to kill it.  Ones that use a thin wire, which snare the animal and I even saw a guillotine mouse trap once and it appeared to be fully functional with the owner swearing that it was effective.
    • Placement and baiting of these traps would be similar to any other type trap.

Bucket Trap

Bucket Trap

  • Poisons
    • Think twice about using poison as the repercussion can be long reaching.  Poisons work slow, allowing the animals to die in your walls or other places where you don’t have access.  These rodents then rot and can stink.  If the rodent happens to make it outside, it is usually in a weakened state and easy prey for any number of predators, who ingest the poison and potentially die along with the rodent.  In addition it is possible your pet or child may find the poison and we just really don’t want to go there.
    • If you are set on using poison, there are several kinds on the market from bait traps to boxes you tear open.  Make sure you place them in a safe area where there is no possibility of an accident.

Aegis Bait Stations

Mouse Bait

Mouse Bait

  • Professional Removal
  • This is the best method of pest eradication.  A licensed professional is trained and has the knowledge of exactly what to use and how to use it.
  • Disposal
    • Live rodents
      • You know that neighbor you love to hate!  Just kidding.  You can release the rodent at the edge of your property.  If you would like the little critter further away, check you State and local laws and release it in the forest preserve.
    • Deceased Rodents
      • Prior to handling any dead rodents or contaminated traps, you should put on a pair of rubber gloves.  Drop the mouse into a Ziploc bag and dispose of it and the gloves in the garbage.
  • Sanitation
    • Traps
      • Any traps you desire to keep should be washed in a mixture of bleach and water.  Shake excess water off outside and allow trap to dry.
    • Hands.
      • Wash your hands with soap and water; you can use antibacterial soap if you like.
  • Interior Exclusion
    • With your mice problem gone, you will need to do a little interior exclusion, just like you did with the outside of your home.
      • Walk through every room in your home and look for cracks and holes where the rodents might be entering or exiting the interior of your home.  Pack each crack or hole with a course steel wool or a copper rodent protective mesh like Stuffit©.  Seal the crack with caulk or any other sealant you desire.

Protected Mouse

Mice are resilient - Never Surrender

This article is compliments of All-Star Maid Service.  Visit our cleaning service for more great articles

1 Comment »

  1. Los angeles maids said,

    November 9, 2010 at 10:36 am

    This is a lengthy but educational article on the mouse/rodent problem. When I see them ran, I panic and ran the opposite way and shout for my husband deal with the creatures. Good thing in our new home, they are not problem. We try to maintain the cleanliness of our home inside and out and also seal in tight containers any food/dry goods that might attract them. As for wet food, they are properly disposed of outside the house in sealed trash bins. In case we have a mice problem in the future (hopefully not!), this is a good article to refer to for its eradication.

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