Musophobia, or the fear of mice or rats, is the one of the most common phobias. People afraid of mice consider these animals "disgusting and carriers of disease."1 In a way, these people's concerns are justified. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are many kinds of diseases that rats or mice carry, such as:2
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome
Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome
Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCM)
Omsk hemorrhagic fever
South American arenaviruses like Argentine hemorrhagic fever, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, Sabiá-associated hemorrhagic fever and Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever
As Michelle Niedermeier of the Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management Program says in a Popular Science article, mice "… spread disease, [and] they trigger asthma, and so having a mouse in house is a real health issue."3 Mice or rats may also spread the diseases by contaminating food and food preparation surfaces.
Solving this problem quickly can reduce the risk of an infestation. Mice have a great reproductive potential, so if there are any signs that there's mice inside your house, you must promptly find ways to get rid of them. Keep reading this article to learn how to get rid of mice, as well as telltale signs that there are rodents in your home.
How Do You Know There's Mice in Your Home?
If you can't see the mice physically, how would you know that they're there? The Spruce enumerates signs of an ongoing mice infestation in your home:4
Rodent droppings: Mice droppings are dark and moist. As they age, droppings dry out, become old and gray, and will easily crumble if touched. Droppings may be found near food packages, in drawers or cupboards, under sinks, in hidden areas and along rodent runways. High amounts of droppings are found where mice are nesting or feeding. Inspect areas where you find new droppings to see if there's an active or new infestation.
Animal gnawing: New gnaw marks are lightly colored and darken as they age. These marks are found on food packaging or on the structure of the house itself. To determine the gnaw mark's age, compare a gnaw mark that you just noticed to older marks on a similar material. If new marks are lighter in color, it can mean that's there a current mice infestation.
Foul odor: If you have pet cats, dogs or a pet rat or mouse, they may become active and excited in areas where rodents are present. The odor is responsible for triggering these emotions, and is most likely to linger when the mice have recently entered a structure. If you notice your pet pawing at an area it had previously no interest in, take a flashlight and check the area for mice. You can also detect a large mice infestation if you notice an ongoing stale smell coming from hidden areas.
Mouse tracks and runways: Active rodents may leave behind distinctive runways and trackers that become fainter as time passes. Using a flashlight or a blacklight can easily detect these passageways. Smudge marks, footprints, urine stains or droppings are key indicators. If you suspect that an area is being frequented by rodents, place a very thin layer of flour or baby powder. Active rodents are most likely to leave their trails in the powder.
Rat or mouse nests: Rodents can use materials like shredded paper, fabric or dried plant matter, as they are attracted to these items for food and nesting. Inspect these items for rodents. If you notice areas with these materials alongside other signs such as droppings, gnawing, odor or tracks, there may be mice in your home. If there are no indicators of the animals, it's likely that they're not coming in your home either. To be safe, however, eliminate and clean these items to prevent problems.
Population size: There are signs that can indicate the size of a rodent population. If you see rats or mice at night but never during the day, this may mean that the population has probably not gotten too large and may be controlled with traps and bait. However, if you spot rodents, fresh droppings or gnaw marks during the day, the population has gotten large.
How to Get Rid of Mice Without Using Traps
Unlike other pests, if your house is overrun by a mouse infestation, you can take care of this problem by yourself. Oftentimes, there is very little need to call an exterminator immediately, unless you notice severe indicators infestation. Nevertheless, take note of these possible techniques to get rid of mice in your house:5,6,7
Clean your yard: Remove overgrown landscaping and junk piles in your yard. By doing so, mice may be less tempted to live near your home and are less likely to enter your home. Areas you may need to address include:
• Compost, wood, rock and scrap piles
• Overgrown grass or weeds
• Overgrown shrubs
• Pile of leaves
• Fallen trees and messy sheds
Declutter your home: Mice may be tempted to live in ideal nesting spots such as messy basements, garages, attics and closets. Declutter these areas and other locations so mice aren't tempted to reside in them.
Clean up crumbs or food debris on surfaces and floors: When cooking, clean dirty dishes immediately instead of letting them sit out. Store food in places unreachable to mice, such as the refrigerator or inside containers made of glass or very sturdy plastic, which they can't nibble through. If you have pets, only serve the amount of food the animal can finish in one sitting, so mice aren't tempted to eat them.
Block doorways or pathways that mice can enter in: These animals may enter your home through the same entrances that you do. Ideally, add a door sweep or barrier to exterior doors to help keep mice away.
Pay attention to holes or cracks: If you see a mouse, pay attention to where it runs and look for possible entryways where they can pass through. According to Niedermeier, the largest part of a mouse is its skull, which is as wide as pencil. Try sticking a regular old pencil in a hole. If the pencil can fit, it's likely that a mouse can go inside the hole.
Seal unconventional entry points: Close up holes you can see, and don't forget about holes that you have drilled. Holes around pipes or wiring tend to be overlooked, but these can act as a mouse "superhighway" system. Use high-quality materials that may last for a very long time to fill these holes. This will help to get rid of mice in the walls. Niedermier recommends using silicone caulk, stainless steel or copper mesh to block potential openings. Silicone may last for a longer period compared to latex caulk, and copper and stainless steel don't rust, unlike steel wool. Inspect other vents and drains in your home and ensure they're covered with fine mesh screen. These include soffit/attic vents, ridge vents, HVAC drains/vents, dryer vents, gas vents and kitchen and bathroom exhaust vents.
Use peppermint essential oil as a mice repellent:8 The smell of peppermint can be overwhelming and offensive to mice. Try adding a few drops of peppermint oil to your cleansers or dab some of the oil onto cotton balls and tuck these into corners of pantry shelves to get rid of mice naturally.
Use cloves or clove essential oil as a mice repellent: Rats find the smell of cloves distasteful and overwhelming. Place 20 to 30 drops of clove essential oil onto a cotton ball and put it strategically around your home. If you're using whole cloves, wrap these in an old piece of cotton shirt and use in place of cotton balls. Just make sure you don't have pets wandering around that can ingest the cotton ball or clove.
Plant vegetation that small birds and animals can enjoy, and avoid leaving out store-bought foods: If you like leaving food out in your backyard for birds and other wildlife to feed on, plant vegetation instead and don't place store-bought foods outside. Mice and other animals are attracted to seeds and store-bought foods, especially when these are left out in your yard at night. In the long run, this may cause a mice infestation.
How to Get Rid of Mice Fast by Using Traps
Traps are a conventional way to get rid of mice at home. Most people are familiar with wooden snap traps, but there are also more modern plastic snap traps, which usually look like a binder clip. Both types of traps are easy to set up and use – what you choose is a matter of personal preference.
If you're using a mouse trap and have a pet, place traps in areas where your pet can't reach them. However, if this isn't possible, place a sturdy box with a mouse-sized hole in it along the wall and over the trap. This may allow the mouse or rat to reach the bait, and help keep your pet safe.
You can also try an electric box trap, which may be baited just like a snap trap. This machine, which runs on batteries, has an opening that mice can run into to try and catch the bait. Once the mouse enters the box, it steps on a plate carrying a current, and is instantly electrocuted. Afterwards, a small light begins flashing to signal that the trap has caught a mouse, and that the trap should be reset.
These electric mouse traps may be ideal for homes with pets, since these traps are completely enclosed, so no dogs or cats may step on the charged plate. These types of traps also often leave very little mess and are relatively easy to clean. However, some caveats of an electric mouse trap include the need for the batteries to be regularly charged, and that they cost considerably more than a snap trap.9
Avoid Using These Items to Get Rid of Mice
Not all methods used to drive mice away are created equal. For some, rat or mice poison is the first course of action to get rid of these animals that feed on mouse carcasses and may inadvertently poison pets too.
Furthermore, rat poisons also don't work instantly because manufacturers do not want mice to become "gun-shy" of poisoned bait. What happens is that once a mouse ingests the poison, it doesn't die right away. Instead, it walks back to its nest, where it eventually dies. Because these animals like tiny holes and live in hard-to-reach places, this makes it more difficult to spot them.
Aside from poison, glue traps are another conventional way to get rid of mice. These traps stick to the body of mice who walk over the trap, and should eventually immobilize the animal. However, starving mice to death while they're stuck on a trap is not a humane way to eliminate them, and few people are actually willing to kill the mouse by hand.
Moreover, the trap itself isn't very effective to begin with, as the glue may not be sticky enough. Older and stronger mice, who are more likely to be breeding and creating the mouse problem, can pull themselves out of the said traps, sometimes with a gruesome effect. Niedermier adds, "They're ready, willing and able to gnaw off their own arm to get out of it."10
Yes — You Can Get Rid of Mice Humanely
Having a mice infestation poses a very big problem not just for your home's orderliness and cleanliness, but for your health as well. Because of this, it's very crucial to find ways to get rid of mice living in your home. Fortunately, there are humane options, ranging from natural approaches to tried-and-tested methods that can assist you in driving mice away from your home and hopefully prevent them from returning again.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on How to Get Rid of Mice
Q: What's the best way to kill mice?
A: Traps are conventional ways to get rid of mice at home, with various types of mouse traps available. Apart from the wooden traps most people are familiar with, plastic snap traps and even electric box traps may be utilized to get rid of mice.
Q: How do you repel mice?
A: You can try using the essential oils of peppermint or clove, or whole cloves to repel mice.
Q: What are some ways to get rid of mice without using a trap?
A: If you want to keep mice away, maintain cleanliness in your home (both inside and outside), block doorways or pathways and seal holes that can serve as entrance for the mice, and plant vegetation that small birds and animals may enjoy instead of placing store-bought foods mice may nibble on.