When they find evidence of mice in the house – droppings, gnawed food containers or disturbed attic insulation – many homeowners will contact a pest-control professional. This is a wise choice if they can’t locate where mice are entering the house or where they’re nesting, because exterminators can help pinpoint those locations. From there on things get decidedly DIY, even with a pest-control service.
First, you’ll need to decide on the type of trap to deploy. Most are lethal or injurious to the mouse – if you’re opposed to killing, few options are available other than to live trap and relocate the mouse. The exterminator may recommend a number of options, including the familiar “snap” trap, open glue traps or an enclosed glue trap, in combination with a rodent poison. He or she may recommend a slower-acting poison that mice bring back to the nest with bait or on their paws or fur – the poison levels build up until the mouse dies, along with any other mice that have eaten the bait or licked the affected mouse.
What to use depends on different factors. Traps and poisons cannot be put into areas of the house where pets or small children can access them. Enclosed traps (sort of like larger roach motels, where the mouse sneaks inside and gets stuck on a glue pad) are somewhat safer but don’t always work well. The traps need to be placed near suspected nesting areas, but not too close, as mice will figure out the game quickly. And their location and bait need to be changed frequently, about once per week.
Place traps or poison in out-of-reach areas where you have found evidence of mice infestation, such as the tops of kitchen cabinets, well inside or behind lower cabinets, and attics or crawlspaces that cannot be accessed by pets. Try different baits in different locations, such as peanut butter, pieces of bread or yeast rolls, or meat. If the mouse doesn’t take the first bait, look at the food packages the mouse has gnawed into and use a bit of that food as bait.
Meantime, remove any accessible sources of food. Throw away any packages that have been gnawed open. Undamaged food products that are packaged in cardboard or paper should be repackaged in sturdy plastic or metal containers.
Thoroughly clean the cabinets, pantry and other storage areas to remove spilled food, crumbs and mouse droppings. This will allow you to see any new droppings so you can figure out where the mice most often roam. The lack of food also will drive the mice toward the bait and traps.
Once a mouse is caught, remove it immediately and clean the spot with an ammonia-based cleaner, like Windex, to remove much of the mouse’s scent and prevent alarming other mice. Bait and place a new trap a few feet away from the old location.
HOME TIP: When using a snap trap, try putting the bait inside a small piece of pantyhose before attaching to the trap: the mouse may catch its teeth in the nylon, delaying it long enough for the trap to snap.
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