It is quite common for home owners to notice rodent activity in winter, since lower temperatures and a scarcity of food encourage mice and other rodents to seek out shelter and more dependable sources of food. Our homes are designed to keep us comfortable and shielded from the elements, making them an ideal environment for mice to move into when the temperature drops. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for mice to also discover that our homes usually offer a steady supply of food, with little-to-no threat of harm. And as spring approaches, the small family of mice living in your house will start to breed, and within weeks your mouse problem turns into a mouse infestation.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do yourself to get rid of mice, and the sooner you act after noticing mice activity in and around your home, the easier it will be.
1. Close off Entry Points
Making it more difficult for mice to enter your home is obviously a better long-term solution and is usually as simple as doing a bit of maintenance around your house. Mice are able to squeeze through incredibly small gaps, so start by making sure your doors and windows are properly sealed, adding weather strips or seals where necessary. And adding a door sweep to doors is better than using a draught stopper that mice could easily chew their way through. Look for cracks and holes in walls, especially around any plumbing, but don’t seal these up using only caulking or gap fillers, since mice will again easily gnaw their way through these. First pack the crack or hole with steel wool as tightly as possible, and then seal as you normally would, with the steel wool acting as an additional barrier that mice are less likely to chew through.
2. Set Mouse Traps
The traditional wooden mouse trap is still a very effective – and cheap – solution, but you can also try some of the more modern adaptations on the market. Wear gloves when handling the traps, and use non-poisonous baits: peanut butter, bacon, and some dry foods are more attractive to mice than cheese. Even if you are sure you only have one or two mice in your home, setting multiple traps in different locations will increase the chance of you capturing the mice. Alternatively, if you live close to a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre, ask them if they have a need for live mice, possibly for any owls they have rescued. If so, you can then use a mouse cage or live catch trap which captures mice without killing them, and you can then hand the live mice over to the wildlife centre. Don’t despair if you don’t catch anything immediately but remember to relocate the traps every two to three days.
3. Use Ultrasonic Repellers
Ultrasonic repellers are small, can be placed unobtrusively, and won’t irritate you or your pets, as long as you aren’t keeping any rodent pets such as hamsters, rabbits, or guinea pigs. It’s worth remembering that the sound won’t penetrate walls and large objects, so you will need to place them carefully, and will definitely need more than one to effectively cover your whole house. They can be effective at making your home unappealing to mice and other rodents but aren’t always effective at eliminating any existing problems with mice.
4. Make Food Less Accessible
Store dry food that is normally packaged in cardboard or plastic in airtight containers made from thicker high-quality plastic or even metal, making it more difficult for mice to smell the food, and to gnaw through the containers. Keep kitchen counters and sinks clear of food scraps, and invest in a taller, stainless steel bin with a tight-fitting lid.
5. Clean Inside and Out
Having a clean and neat house and garden won’t get rid of mice but having a messy house and garden will certainly attract them. The added advantage of cleaning regularly is that it might reveal signs of mice activity in your home, while a neat and trimmed garden makes it easier for you to spot cracks and holes from the outside that could allow mice to enter your home. Less clutter also means less chance of mice finding materials to line their nests with.
6. Get a Pet
Contrary to popular belief, not all cats are good mice hunters. But having a cat or dog active around your house could act as a deterrent to mice and other rodents. Just remember to avoid using any traps, baits, and other repellents that could harm your pet, especially rodent poison. Even if your pet doesn’t eat the poison, they could eat a rodent that has already ingested poison.
7. Know When to Get Professional Help
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you might find yourself a rodent problem that you can’t get rid of, or even a more serious infestation, resulting in extensive damage to your property, and increasing the risk of you and your family being exposed to dangerous diseases and bacteria. You should call a professional pest controller in as soon as you realise the problem is bigger than you thought or notice that your efforts are having little effect on getting rid of your mice problem. Professional pest controllers are very effective at putting measures in place to eliminate serious rodent problems, and at identifying the cause of any mice problems you have and sharing steps you can take to reduce this.