How to Get Rid of Mice and Prevent Them From Coming Back

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Tips for getting rid of mice and preventing mice in the home
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Carl
August 14, 2016
My situation is that we live on a farm, with no shortage of field mice in the pastures, so in the fall we end up with mice in the barn, in the attic of our house and under my parents' home in the crawl space. I keep quite a few snap traps set in all these places but there are just too many for me to check on regularly so I ordered a dozen of the Victor Tin Cat live traps that can catch and hold as many as 30 mice before releasing or emptying them. But, once again, I won't be checking these but once a week so I am considering adding a mouse poison in each box trap to euthanize the mice as quickly and humanely as possible. (I don't want the mice suffering in the traps for days before just starving.) Since these box traps allow the mice to enter but not exit, I am not too worried about the poisoned mice getting eaten by cats, dogs, birds, or other animals. Any thoughts on what may be the most humane poison?
Richard at AlabamaHealth.com
August 17, 2016
Thank you for your comment Carl. As you probably know, preventing rodents from getting in as the first line of defense. Since you live on a farm, audubon.org offers an article about how effective barn owls can be for controlling mouse populations. And they also discuss non-toxic approaches like the "better mouse trap." But if these options don't appeal to you, then what you're considering sounds to be a pretty well-thought out approach. At least it minimizes the possibility of other animals from getting poisoned directly or secondhand.

The National Pesticide Information Center website does a wonderful job of comparing different types of rodent poisons. Since their charts appear to suggest that warfarin may have the least potential dangers to birds and mammals and is least toxic when it comes in contact with our skin or inhaled, that may be one to consider: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/rodenticides.html

And, since you mentioned that you would be putting the poison inside the Tin Cat closed boxes, perhaps this Kaput Rat Mouse Bait (that is an Amazon.com affiliate link so AlabamaHealth.com earns a small commission if you purchase the product) would be a good option. It:
   1) contains only warfarin.
   2) comes in sachet pillows so you won't be handling the contents directly.
   3) is apparently pretty irresistible to mice since it so closely resembles grain. So it will help lure them into the box traps.

As for what may be most humane option for the mice, I called our county extension agent and he agreed that warfarin would be his choice. From what he has seen, animals just get more and more lethargic as warfarin thins the blood. So, he does not think that the mice suffer violently. And the audubon article I linked to above appears to confirm this when they report that birds suffering from second hand anticoagulant poisoning "don’t have enough red-blood cells to deliver oxygen to their tissues, so they are logy. Their heads droop, the linings of their mouths are pale;"

One last thought: Since you're taking all these steps to prevent poisoning of birds, pets or other animals, be sure to dispose of those dead mice in a responsible manner rather than just dumping them out. I would probably seal them in trash bags and throw them in a garbage can with a lid.

I hope this helps. Please post a follow up comment to let me know how things work out for you and, if anyone else has thoughts, let's hope they share them here.

Toni
April 21, 2015
Our cats seem to keep the mice problem in check. You may want to say something about cats in your article.
Richard at AlabamaHealth.com
April 21, 2015
I am glad you mentioned cats, Toni. According to UC Davis, cats and dogs may catch a few mice here and there but very rarely are they an adequate solution: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7483.html There are just too many places for mice to hide. In fact, leaving cat and dog food set out can actually contribute to a mouse infestation.

And now that you mentioned cats, I often wondered if spreading cat urine might scare mice off. According to at least one study, however, mice show absolutely no fear around cat urine: http://depts.alverno.edu/nsmt/archive/Graef.htm

Richard at AlabamaHealth.com
April 22, 2015
Just one final thought on scents. By wearing disposal rubber gloves when handling mouse traps, you not only avoid imprinting human smell on the traps (which may indicate to mice that something's suspicious) but you're protecting yourself from unnecessary disease exposure.
Bev
April 20, 2015
I thought this suggestion from the CDC was helpful: If you go a full week without catching any mice in your home, chances are that you've got them all. And that's the time to go into clean-up mode. (One week is apparently long enough for the infectious virus in the urine and feces to no longer be highly infectious.) What I found especially interesting (and something I had been doing incorrectly) is to never sweep or vacuum because it stirs up too much dust. Instead, spray the dust and debris generously with a 1 part to 9 parts bleach/water solution (which is much stronger than I would have used) and then wipe and mop up the dust: http://www.cdc.gov/rodents/cleaning/index.html

HOW TO GET MICE TO MOVE OUT & STAY OUT!

The "mouse problem" has been plaguing humans since the beginning of time. Mice consume and contaminate billions of dollars of crops and food, damage buildings and spread disease everywhere they go (which is literally just about everywhere). Plus, they bite!

If you have mice setting up home in your house, here are tips for getting (and keeping) them out::

KEEP THE HOUSE CLEAN

  • Don't leave food setting out.
  • Keep trash and recyclable container lids secured.
  • Pick up pet food bowls and remove or relocate bird feeders.
  • Clean sinks, appliances, counters and spills.
  • Store food (and pet food) in sealable cans, jars, plastic containers, etc.

GET RID OF CLUTTER AND JUNK, BOTH IN AND AROUND YOUR HOUSE

  • Store boxes at least 1 foot off ground and 1 foot away from walls.
  • Keep lawn and weeds mowed.
  • Don't stack firewood near house.

KEEP DOORS CLOSED AND SCREENS ON WINDOWS

  • Stuff stainless steel scouring pad in exterior cracks and holes that are bigger than your little finger.
  • Mice need only a dime-sized hole to enter.
  • Sign of mouse problem: feces about 1/4" with pointed ends.

USE MOUSE TRAPS

  • Traps are less dangerous than baits and mice won't die (and stink) in hidden places.
  • What's the best mouse trap bait? Most frequently suggested are peanut butter, bacon, M&M's®, gum drops, uncooked oatmeal, chocolate syrup or a piece of apple.
  • Consider securing bait with thread or twist tie, if needed.
  • A cotton ball (a favorite mouse nesting material) tied to the trap trigger, also works as bait.
  • Place traps vertical to wall (so they snap towards the wall) in areas where droppings and mouse chewing are present.
  • To make cleanup quick and easy (after a snap), place traps in small, cardboard box with holes cut in both wall corners.
  • For extra effectiveness, set pairs of traps, as shown.
  • Since each female can have 50 babies a year, set out plenty of traps so you gain control of the infestation quickly.
  • If mouse infestation is really bad, get a multiple-catch trap (holds 12 or more mice) such as Tin Cat® or Ketch-All® or consult with a pest control service.
  • With live, catch-and-release traps, mice are likely to return.
  • Glue boards are effective, but less humane (our experience).

Mice love to chew on electrical wiring.
Mice are most apt to move indoors in autumn, when nights start getting cold outdoors.

Sources (Accessed April 15, 2015):

  • http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id115/id115.pdf
  • http://warnell.forestry.uga.edu/service/library/index.php3?docID=420
  • http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/guidebooks/PIH-95-66/HUDGB7C17GUID.pdf

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