Knowing When to Do it Yourself and When to Call an Exterminator
When it comes to dealing with mice in the home, many people are a bit squeamish to tackle the problem on their own. However, there are also many people out there who are DIY enthusiasts and would be willing to tackle the problem themselves. If it is evident that there are a lot of mice present is would be best to call an exterminator, but if one or two mice are seen and it is not a large scale infestation then all that may be needed is a trip to the hardware store and a little know-how. I interviewed several technicians with decades of experience between them to put together a list of some handy tips and tricks from the professionals at Arrow Exterminating.
- One way to tell how many mice are around is to hone in on areas where you have seen their activity and look for their droppings. They will be small black pellets approximately the size of a grain of rice. If there are a lot of droppings, there are probably multiple mice on the scene
- Do you have children or pets? If so, this makes taking care of the problem on your own a little more tricky
- Are the mice entering food or causing property damage? Mice are, by their nature, filthy. Any food that they have contact with should be considered contaminated and discarded. This means that if they enter a box of cereal the whole box should be tossed out. They can also gnaw through electrical wires and insulation, which can cause fires. If you are worried that mice are posing a serious threat you your health or property, it is time to call in an exterminator
Choosing a Pest Control Method
- Poison- Also known as rodenticide, poison is widely available as a method for controlling the populations of mice and rats. We do not recommend using poison for several reasons. Although it is the easiest and most straightforward method to administer, it can pose a serious hazard to children and pets. Also, once the mice eat it they do not die instantaneously, which means that they may perish somewhere inaccessible and begin to smell as they decompose. Although the poison is deadly to rodents, it does not have the same effect on insects. The poison has been known to actually attract other pest insects into the home.
- Glue Boards- We do not generally recommend glue boards because they are considered inhumane. Although they are effective and may catch several mice at once, the mice are not killed immediately and instead suffer from shock or starvation. Depending on where glue boards are set, they may also pose a hazard to children and pets. Remember, even when on a glue board mice can still bite. Here is a link to an article describing in depth how to remove an animal from a glue trap. This method will work for a mouse, domesticated animal, or anyone that accidentally gets their digits stuck on the trap.
- Live Traps- Although they may seem like the most humane option, consider that mice are social animals that live their lives within a small territory. Assuming that the mice survive being captured and left in a trap without water, depositing them into a strange and hostile environment leaves them extremely vulnerable to predators. Keep in mind that instead of liberating the mice, capturing and releasing them may cause more suffering than a snap trap. If mice are released too close to where they were captured there is a good chance they will use their homing instincts to seek out and re enter the property, or simply invade someone else’s home. This is why it is best to go at least a couple of miles away and/or cross a major road or highway before releasing rodents. House mice are not likely to survive in the wilderness away from human habitation. Keep in mind that mice can carry diseases, and care should be taken to only handle them when necessary and always wash your hands after contact with mice. Here is a list compiled by the US Government Center for Disease Control, demonstrating all of the diseases that can be carried by rodents and transmitted to humans. Mice may also grow wise to the live traps and figure out ways to get around them.
- Traditional Snap Traps- These are an excellent choice for trapping mice. Although they are lethal, they are also humane and are designed to dispatch the mice as quickly as possible without causing unnecessary pain or injury.
Tips and Tricks From The Experts
A lot of people out there choose another type of trap over the snap trap because they are worried about setting the snap trap. Setting the trap will not cause any serious injury, and when used properly it will not snap onto your hand. Knowing how to set the trap right may lead to more confidence in using this method
- Some of our technicians use sandpaper, a nail file, or other coarse material to “rough up” the end of the trigger. The extra texture at the end of the trigger gives it more grip. This makes the trap a little less sensitive and easier to set without affecting its ability to trap mice.
- Always handle the snap trap from the side opposite the bait. If you never touch the side of the trap that is snapped down on, then there is no chance you will get your finger caught in the crossfire.
- Don’t forget to apply the bait before the trap is set. Our technicians recommend a combination of peanut butter and birdseed.
- When using viscous bait (such as chocolate and peanut butter), try to avoid spreading it in a big glob across the whole bait station. The yellow rectangular pad where the bait is placed has a hole in the middle of it, and if the bait seeps through the hole it may prevent the pad from compressing when the mouse hits it.
- The traps are most effective when the mice dont have access to any other food sources in the house besides the bait. Be sure to clean up any stray crumbs or scraps of food, and keep lids on the garbage cans.
- It may be worthwhile to leave the trap unset the first day and allow the mice to eat the bait off the trap. This will get the mice accustomed to feeding off the trap so that when it is set they will already be used to going for the bait
- Another similar tactic that is a little quicker is to bait and set the trap, and also leave some bait around the outside of the trap
- Set the traps near to where you see droppings or mouse activity. Set them against the wall with the triggers facing the wall. Set several traps in the same spot. Mice do not have good vision and instead rely on an acute sense of smell and hearing. Perhaps because of their poor vision, they are known to scurry along the same pathways over and over, usually near the wall.
- Be prepared that even in a kill trap it is possible for the mouse to become trapped while still alive. In these situations you would need to finish the job yourself. Also, if the traps are not checked frequently, dead mice could produce an offensive odor. If all this proves to be overwhelming, or if the tactics described here are not working for you, it may be time to call an exterminator.