Help! I got Varmints!
I got an email the other day from a gal who found evidence of mice in her home. She wanted to know how to get rid of them.
This is an area I unfortunately do have experience in. About 8 years ago, we had a year of an all out battle with mice. The first evidence was when Wendy, my Yorkshire Terrier (who were bred to be mousers by the way) started bringing me ‘presents’, in the form of dead mice. I assumed she got them from outside. But no, she got them from in the house.
I found that out when I started seeing the little ‘presents’ the mice were leaving. About the same time I noticed a strong urine odor coming from the dishwasher whenever I ran it. We figured out they were living behind the dishwasher and when it was turned on, it heated up that area and magnified the smell.
I was mortified and disgusted. I started doing research on how to get rid of them and tried many things. Here’s what I learned:
- Find their entry way. Check around the inside and outside of your home and try to find out how they are getting in. Close up that area if possible. Steel wool is a good option to plug up small openings because the mice can’t chew through it. In my case, it was the doggy door. We got a heavy duty door with heavy double flaps that made it more difficult for a small animal to get in.
- Set traps. This takes more thought and planning than you might think. See below for my section on traps.
- Make your home less attractive to mice and rats:
- Do a thorough cleaning of your house. As you do that, make sure you get rid of or minimize things that rodents like to nest in such as cardboard boxes (roaches like them too-yuch!), fuzzy stuff such as stuffed toys and natural fabrics. It broke my heart when I found that the hand embroidered table cloth my mom had made had been eaten by mice.
- Be sure to wear a mask and rubber gloves when cleaning up mice droppings and urine. There are loads of diseases carried in them and you definitely do not want to transfer any of that to you or breathe it in.
- I found there are a few smells that rodents hate. One is moth balls. So I first bought some moth balls and put them under the sink, behind my refrigerator and stove and behind furniture. The problem with moth balls is that they smell kind of well, old. Like I am in my grandma’s house. Also they are toxic so if they are anywhere a pet or small child can get to them don’t use them. But I figured they were better than the mouse urine smell.
- Another smell they dislike is peppermint. Peppermint is a much more pleasant smell than moth balls for sure! You need to use pure peppermint oil for it to be effective. You can get some from Amazon here: peppermint oil. Pour the peppermint oil into a small spray bottle and spray it in all the areas you have seen evidence of mice. Make sure you get the inside of your closet, and drawers and cabinets. Also a warning about pure peppermint oil. Don’t get this stuff on your hands or in your eyes! It’s so potent it will cause your hands to go numb temporarily and I don’t even want to imagine what it would do to your eyes!
- Enclose in plastic containers any foods in your pantry that mice could get to such as cereals, crackers, etc.
- While we were dealing with the rodent issue, I put my sheet sets in large zip lock plastic bags. I also packed my good table linens into gallon sized zip lock plastic bags to keep them away from the mice.
There are lots of traps out there on the market and I think I tried most of them. Here are my experiences:
Poison Traps will work but please don’t use them if you have young children or pets. Also the mice will often crawl and die in places you can’r get to and you will have to smell them decomposing for months. Not my idea of a good time.
Glue Traps will also work but I will never use them again. The mice die a slow, painful death and after hearing one caught on a glue trap actually scream, I decided no more glue traps.
Live Traps are humane as they trap the mouse but don’t kill it. The 2 problems with this type of trap is they often don’t work. And then what do you do with the mouse once you catch it? If you release it outside, it will just find it’s way back into your home. Mice have been known to travel several miles to get back to their nests. So you will need to drive each mouse you find miles away, preferably not near any other houses to release them.
Electric Mouse Traps actually work pretty well. But they are expensive and if you have a lot of mice, you will need traps in all the areas you have seen evidence of mice . We used 2 of the electric ones and then the rest were the cheap snap traps.
Old Fashioned Snap Traps seem to work the best for us. They were cheap, effective and quick.
There may be other kinds of mouse traps out there that I haven’t tried yet but the ones above are the ones I have experience with.
If after a few weeks of actively trying to rid your home of rodents, you find the mice are still taking over your house, call a professional. Pest control companies deal with this sort of thing all the time and will be better equipped to rid you of these nuisance pests. Just be sure to make them aware if you have pets or children so they don’t use poison traps.
We did finally get rid of these little monsters but it wasn’t easy. I hope we never get them again.
I’d love to hear if you ever dealt with mice or rats in your home and how you got rid of them Please leave a comment and let me know your experience.