How to Get Rid of Mice

Want to know how to get rid of mice? Here's our best list of techniques, everything from natural home remedies to store-bought live and kill traps.

How to get rid of mice
Photo: DSD

In their proper context, I actually like mice. They're admirable for their resiliency, hardiness, and resourcefulness. As fuzzy little mammals with squished-together facial features, they're adorable to the point of absurdity. And heck, they even provided inspiration to a certain cartoonist named Walt for the main mascot of one my favorite places on the planet.

Note, however, that context is everything. There's a strong line of demarcation between very cute and vermin, and that line is coterminous with the four walls of my house.

Read on for the full Curbly guide on how to get rid of mice!         

Nobody likes to cohabitate with mice. But whether you care to admit it or not, your home most likely has had a rodent visitor at one point or another. Since the weather turned chilly, you can practically see mice families unloading their little U-hauls and setting up housekeeping in the nooks, crannies and hollows of our walls. As long as a mouse can get his head through an opening, he can wriggle the rest of his body right on through. Not only do you have to catch them, you also need to deter and block them from entering.


Why Mice Are a Problem

There's nothing newsworthy about how to get rid of mice in your home. But why, exactly, are they so dangerous to have scurrying between your walls?

Here are handful of reasons they're like little depth charges for your health:

1. Disease

Simply put, mice poop and peeA lot. And they don't hang out solo, so where one mouse decides to do its business, you can bet that many more will follow.

Direct contact with mouse droppings and urine can put you in contact with a whole slew of diseases like hantavirus—which at best, gives you flu like symptoms, and at worst, achieves its 38% mortality rate by filling your lungs with fluid (for some cheery off-hours reading, there's a longer list of diseases at CDC.gov). What's worse, it doesn't take much rustling around to crush up dried droppings and send the dust airborne straight into your nostrils.

2. Parasites

Mice aren't just bringing their toilets into your home, but also their parasites. Remember that little event called the Black Death that (conservative estimate) wiped out a quarter of the population of Europe in the Late Middle Ages? Yeah, that was a present from the fleas that rode the backs of rats. Rodent mites that give bedbug-style bitesticks that carry Lyme disease, and more. It ain't the Plague, but it ain't pleasant either.

3. Damage

Here's another thing mice do: they chew. Constantly, unceasingly, irrepressibly. In my research, I found there seems to be a bit of a debate on why they do it, whether because of sharpening their teeth or their search for nesting materials. Regardless, they macerate whatever comes in their path. In the wild, it's totally cool; but in your home, it can cause troubles, particularly of the chewed-wires-causing-electrical-fires variety.

 


How to Get Rid of Mice

There's a full spectrum of approaches toward dealing with how to get rid of mice that rises directly out of attitudes about animal welfare – from PETA on one end to pest control professional on the other. The purpose of this article isn't to convince you of either side, but to provide you with the most effective techniques and let you decide which ones you feel most comfortable with when deciding how to get rid of mice in your own home.

1. Prevention

Keeping mice out of your home starts with minimizing their food sources. Mice will still show up uninvited to a spotless house, but a dirty kitchen is like leaving the door open, rolling out the red carpet and installing a fifty foot high sign stating MOUSE CONVENTION—ALL WELCOME—WE HAVE SNACKS in neon lettering.

On top of that, mice can squeeze into holes about the size of a dime, so make a careful inspection of your home's exterior and patch up all potential entry points. Look around the foundation of your house, and block all little cracks and crevices. Try blocking the holes with green scrubber pads, and stick steel wool in mouse holes. They have a hard time (and some hefty dental bills) if they try to chew through it.

There are a lot of deterrent ideas out there, from placement of uninviting smells like ammonia, cayenne pepper, and peppermint oil, but  their efficacy is dubious. If you want to give this method a try, douse cotton balls with peppermint oil or other obnoxiously-strong scents and place them around openings where  you suspect mice are entering.

Just remember, prevention is a supplement, so don't stress too hard about it. Mice are the colonists and homeowners are the redcoats. They're small, scrappy, and sneaky; you're big, slow, and blind. Their will to survive is greater than your will to push them away, and they'll run circles around you like Wesley fighting Fezzik.

 

2. No-kill elimination

So you've decided to let those little sinkers see another sunrise, just one away from the boundaries of your property. Your main objective: trapping and removal.

You have two basic options here for how to get rid of mice: 

  • DIY — Aluminum can covered in peanut butter, suspended on a coat hanger over a five gallon bucket, and you've got yourself an effective mouse trap like this dude.

A no-kill mouse trap

  • Store-bought — If the above is a little too reminiscent of the relatives who have vehicles on cinder blocks in the yard and wear camo to weddings, check out Havahart small mammal traps. They're inexpensive and come with good reviews.

(For my money, I like the look of the Havaharts, but I gotta say I'm intrigued by the peanut butter bucket.)

Just make sure you check your traps at least once daily, because mice have to eat constantly; otherwise, you're better off intentionally going for option #3. Also, once you've trapped your mouse, be sure to drop it off somewhere really far away from houses—like, drive it somewhere—or it's just going to pop right back in.

 

3. Humane extermination

If making a small dent in the world mouse population doesn't bother you, let's talk about the most humane way of dispatching your unwanted house guests. The main idea here is a quick kill—minimizing stress and avoiding suffering. 

That means NO glue traps. These cause a stressed-out mouse to struggle against the trap and eventually starve or suffocate to death, all while you have to listen to their tiny little screams of pain as they struggle to escape. It's agonizing and horrible. Just don't do it.

Additionally, avoid using poison when you ask yourself how get rid of mice. Why? Not because it doesn't work, but because it does. Here's what will happen: mouse ingests poison, mouse returns to home in the wall, mouse dies there, mouse rots there and your entire home smells like death in a way that you cannot eradicate. 

Here are two better alternatives:

How to get rid of mice: Use an old-fashioned snap trap

  • Snap traps—these old standbys are actually extremely effective because they quickly snap the mouse's neck just like your Great-Grandma took out chickens. Just make sure they're set correctly or they won't be effective.

A zapper trap for mice

  • Rodent zapper — For a little more money, you can buy a small box that gives mice and rats a quick, lethal electric shock that instantly stops their hearts. Afterward you can simply tip the trap and dispose of them. 

 

How to Get Rid of Mice: Out-of-the-Box Ways

Here are a few bonus methods for ridding your home of rodents. We haven't tested these out, so approach these methods with an open mind:

  • Place trays of used kitty litter around the outside of the house where you think they could enter. Cats and mice are mortal enemies, after all. The smell will send them back to their cabin in the woods
  • Dried snake poo (REALLY? Yuk.): This method ideally works like the kitty litter. You can obtain this from a reptile center, zoo or pet store.
  • Drive them crazy and drive them away using an electronic beeping unit
  • And finally: Get a cat! It really is an efficient way to keep mice at bay. Adopt a cat and make a difference today!
How to get rid of mice
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Photo: Shutterstock / Pakhnyushchy