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Keeping Mice Out of Your Home

For many years now, I've had an annual visitor. Never the same one, but always arriving at the same time and always choosing to set up housekeeping in the same area of my home.

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Field mice they are. Timid little creatures to be sure. I'm certain that in the wild they did quite well, foraging here and yon. Nature's land was their land. A giver of sustinance to keep the body and blood line going for another season.

But, each season ends. Spring's flowers, tender leaves, even moldy crab apples and other bits of fruit are all gone. Summer's grain has been harvested, and its worms, snails and insects are gone, either by death or by secreting themselves for the winter in niches not easily accessible to our tiny, timid friends.

It's been a hard life but it's been a good one, all in all. Mind you, there was danger at every turn. The black snake. Quick as lightning! In the blink of an eye, Mister Field Mouse could be inside that slithering serpent, never to see the light of day again.

Snakes from below, hawks from above, feral cats close at the heels. Danger at every turn. Danger that was tempered though, by the bounty of the land, a few close lady friends and the many little mice sired to insure the perpetuation of the species.

Yes, it's been a good season, after all. But the nip in last night's air will be tomorrow night's first frost, and then a fortnight's hard freeze. One must make preparations quickly lest the end comes much too soon. With a life expectancy of only one year, having a strong will to survive and finding warm refuge in Man's home could mean a doubling of that span. Yes, this little fella has the same innate burning desire as you and I. It wants to live.

What attracts these mice to the area under my sink and the lower cabinets on either side is a mystery to me. No food is kept there. No accessible water is there, only cleaning supplies. Yet just as surely as the days shorten and the nights become bitter, I once again hear those tiny sounds as I sit quietly at night. My guest has arrived.

He doesn't know he's a mouse a bit more than a dog knows he's a dog. He has the potential of being an excellent and devoted pet. To pass the years with some semblance of remaining Human with human compassion, many prisoners befriended these animals only to find their bonding equaled that of any man and his dog.

Were I much younger with lots of time on my hands, I might give it a go at being friends with my guest. I've befriended dogs, cats, birds, bats and rabbits and more. Why not this little creature. He is capable of showing much affection. He just wants to live.

And if we were friends, he could ride in my shirt pocket while I went places, poking his little head out now and then for a peanut or cricket I captured just for him.

But, I'm old. My patience went the way of my youth. My aches and pains dictate that I not even attempt to house train a tiny mouse. A small spring loaded trap will put an end to my fantasizing of a friendship with this shy, harmless creature.

This year has been the odd one to say the least. Spring has just begun and my visitor has made an unexpected and very early appearance. His stay was abruptly cut short by that deadly snap of the spring loaded metal against wood, with his tiny head between the two. A mouse in my house in the Spring? Just a one time thing, for sure.

Not so. The very next night, there were more sounds. Heavy, loud sounds. This must be a big one. A larger trap ruled out any doubts. It wasn't a larger mouse, though. It was a rat. Two nights later, another rat met his demise. Three nights later, another mouse. I've never had such happen.

Before I could empty the trap and bury the last rat, I heard the sounds of another. This is insane. Why so many and why now? Well, I found out why, but I won't tell it here lest I am thought to be prejudiced against new immigrants to the neighborhood. I take pride in not being prejudiced but I have no control over what other people say or think.

This last rat has decided he will stay. He had fitted his new quarters with all manner of accoutrements ranging from bits of tinfoil to cellophane to soda can tabs. He completely avoids any contact with the baited trap. He leaves his calling cards all over the place and pees like a beer hound on Saturday night. I am miffed.

I took everything from under the sink and cabinets. I washed down all surfaces with a strong bleach solution. I washed everything I had taken out and put it all in dishpan-like tubs.

The wheels started turning. Boric acid will kill ants. It has a burning effect. Once, I sprinkled some on my plants to kill insects that were eating the plants. Over a few days, it burned the leaves so badly, the plants almost died.

Well sir, before putting the tubs into the cleaned sink area and cabinets, I spread a thick layer of boric acid all about. I set back and waited to see what would happen. About half an hour later, my unwelcome guest returned.

He made his usual entry sounds, then nothing. No scuffling about, no loud gnawing sounds, no constant re arranging of all the treasures he had hoarded. Nothing. Silence.

I was hoping the boric acid would give him enough of a hot foot to make him want to stay away. Looks like it did. Or maybe he just doesn't like walking through it. Whatever the case, this is the first night in many where I've been able to sit at my kitchen computer for any length of time and not be distracted by all that racket.

The cleaning supplies are in tubs. They wont come in contact with the boric acid. There are no small children about to plunder under the sink. If there were, I would have a lock on the doors. So, there is no reason the acid can't stay where it is.

I didn't give life. I figure I have no right to take it. But when it comes to urine stains and rat doo under my sink, philosophy and charitable thoughts go out the window. The boric acid stays, just a much thicker layer than recommended for roaches.

With this deterrent in place this Fall, I doubt there'll be any guests for an over winter stay. Suits me. That way I wont have to wrestle with my conscience about how morally wrong I might have been when shortening the lifespan of a poor little creature who had only a year from birth to death, anyway.

Due to a huge issue with ants around my home, I always keep a ready reserve of boric acid on hand. It's relatively cheap and relatively safe. After I clean, I always put down a dusting behind and under stove, refrigerator, in all cracks and crevices. Anywhere I think an ant or roach might travel. It has paid off. Unlike my neighbors, I have never had a roach infestation in all the years I have lived here.

Now, I have found that just more of what I have been using all along is an excellent deterrent to mice and rats, as well. Several days after my liberal layer was laid down, there have been no sounds or other evidence to indicate another displaced rodent plans to set up housekeeping in my home. Boric acid will deter mice and rats. A good thing to know.

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We were so disgusted when we found a mouse had made his way into our kitchen cupboards. We found a half inch space along the bottom of the cupboard doors where the nasty little mouse made his way in.

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19 Questions

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April 21, 2010

I moved into a new construction 3 years ago. Since then, I've been having problems with mice. I'm not sure where they are coming from. I make sure doors are closed because there is construction around the area where I live and I know rodents tend to roam those areas. Despite of my efforts, I keep on finding mice droppings.

At first, I would find droppings inside my cabinets. Since there is no food in any of my lower cabinets, the mice are now outside in my kitchen area.

I've used traps and just this year I've caught 4. Where could they be coming from and more importantly how can I make sure they stop coming in?

By ponce from Chicago, IL

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April 21, 20100 found this helpful
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We were plagued with mice & we tried everything! Every sort of trap, bate & poison. Nothing worked! Until we got a mouser! Smokey was a stray cat, left to live in a parking lot of my daughter's apartments by someone who moved away & left him on his own, so we figured we could give him a better home where he could be fed every day & still live outside & sleep in our garage. But we fell in love with the little fella & now he has the run of the house & goes outside too... & let me tell you, not only has he take care of the mice situation, he has gotten rid of our severe mole problem too! We thought having a pet would be a hassle, but he's easy to care for & makes us smile!

Go to a shelter & find yourself a cat that's lived on his or her own for a time, these are the very best hunters!
Shelter cats come already vaccinated & neutered, so this will save you money too! I knew a guy who kept his garbage on his porch until he'd get enough to go to the dump, & I always wondered why he never had a mouse or rat problem, so I asked him & he said there were 2 stray cats who lived in the neighborhood that he'd sometimes feed & they kept the mice away!

Since you live in the land of cold winters, you'll have to let your cat inside when it's cold or you'll have to buy a heated pad for his cat-house. When we first got Smokey, before we let him inside the house, we put a kitty door in our enclosed back porch so he could come inside & we bought a heated pet pad with a thermostat & put this on top of a soft bed made from a folded blanket. It was up off the ground & he slept there every night. Not only did he get rid of all the mice we had, but he continually keeps them out!

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April 22, 20100 found this helpful
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The long term solution here is to get a cat. It is a cat's job to rid our homes of rodents. That is why we domesticated them in the first place.

Cats are very little trouble. Get two so they can keep each other company. And if you want them to keep mice out of your house, you have to let them in the house. And no declawing. These are supposed to be working cats.

Cats also are good company, cuddly, and are good stress relievers. There is nothing like a purring cat on your lap to make you feel content.

Some cats are better hunters than others, and females are often the better hunters. However, I have a neutered tom that is a wanton killer--mice, birds, squirrels, even once, a jackrabbit!

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January 11, 2013

The house next door to us was empty for about 3 years, while the bank that foreclosed on it and renovated it back to habitability. There must have been about 20 people living there at one point. Thankfully, a lovely young couple with two small children, bought the house. The bank, also must have hired an exterminator, prior to putting the home up for sale, and the mice that must have been living in an empty quiet house, have decided to move into "our" house.

We can not afford the expense of an exterminator. My husband has set traps, but I think the problem is bigger than just setting a dozen or so mouse traps. I have two dogs and am reluctant to put out poison. Any suggestions? I would prefer to just humanely make them go away, as opposed to killing them, but will consider all suggestions.

By Kathleen

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January 13, 20130 found this helpful
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I'd agree with the suggestion to add some cats to your family if you didn't already have the dogs-who depending on breed might be rather good mousers.

If any pet succeeds at catching the mice, though, you might be looking at a vet bill to clear the fleas and internal parasites mice carry and pass on to pets. I moved into a house that had been empty for several years and my cats duly presented me first with their catches (which they then ate before I could catch the cat that had caught the mouse!) and then the vet bill to deal with fleas and parasites. Oh ick!

The most important thing is to make your home as unappealing to the mice as you can-no crumbs, no left out food including fruit in a bowl, no dog bowls (right, your dogs will love that-not-but mice are pretty bold and will eat and drink from pet dishes), plugged entry holes including gaps around pipes under all sinks. It isn't easy and it isn't a one time effort-you have to make it part of your regular routine for the rest of your life.

Excellent advice regarding mouse control specific to your area is available on your local Extension office web pages. Create a search term on your preferred search engine using: your town or county name plus university and the name of your state plus the words extension office. For example: Houston County University Alabama extension office

Once the search results come up, click through to the site map for your county office and browse the available (and printable-free!) info pages. There should be several pages about controlling not only mice but rats, squirrels, bats, snakes, insects, etc, that like to think of your home as a motel-fast food take away-potential permanent new home.

Also lots of great info at the County Extension site on gardening and other home helps-all free, and all on the web.

County Extension offices are nationwide in cooperation with all fifty states university systems to provide residents with free or low-cost information resources specific to each county in the system. All of the printable information online is absolutely free. Some services provided by extension office agents do have a low cost fee-water and soil sampling for homeowners, for example.

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December 28, 2019

A year ago I took tenancy of a small, 1940s, recently modernised bungalow out in the countryside and have been plagued with insects and mice ever since. It's built on a small hill and my huge back garden which is nearly all lawn, slopes quite steeply downwards from the rooms at the rear ie., kitchen, bathroom, and one of the bedrooms. When I moved in, the front and back gardens were overgrown jungles and had no fencing so I immediately had the land cleared and enclosed it all round with new 6ft fence panels and concrete posts. The bungalow is very small, but I took it because the integral garage is massive and most people who live here have converted theirs into extra living space.

It was freezing cold when I moved in and apart from one little mouse I found in the kitchen, a few slugs and snails in the garage and a couple of birds nests in the garage roof, all was fine to begin with. Then in March, as the weather began to warm slightly and temperatures rose, the nightmare began. It started with an excessive amount of flies in the back garden, kitchen, and in the garage. The garage is built onto the kitchen and there's a door which separates the two spaces for access to the back garden. I could find no reason for these flies and it was and still is a mystery. As summer arrived, more and more the flies descended. They were literally pinging off the walls and ceilings and off of our heads! Despite multiple fly traps and loads of different types of flying insect repellents they just kept coming; they were in all the cupboards and drawers, the cooker and fridge, on the beds, under tables, on the carpets and even in our bath water! At the same time as the flies we were overrun with ants and earwigs. They crawled up our arms, across our faces, got into our ears and hair. Between the flies and the ants my 8 year old daughter became traumatised and some days she refused to get off the school bus at 4pm! It was unbearable. Even though the ants and earwigs disappeared as quickly as they arrived, the flies didn't leave so fast. Eventually they began to die off in the November time, but there are still some flying about right now, in December.

After the fly invasion there was no respite, as they have been replaced with mice and cockroaches! The mice are causing me so much stress. I'm a mess! I think they are coming in from the front and back gardens via the garage. The garage has a wooden back door with steps leading straight down into the garden and an internal side door with steps leading up into the kitchen. There is no other way to reach the back garden other than through the kitchen via the garage or directly via the electric garage door at the front.

The bungalow is cute, but very, very small with no storage or extra space and so the garage is invaluable. It's huge, has PowerPoints and lighting, built in shelving and units and it also houses two big store rooms which used to be the old toilet and washroom back in the days.

However the garage, whilst indispensable, is an absolute monstrosity! It's used only to house the tumble dryer, a fall back freezer, and gardening equipment, and overspill boxes from when I moved in a year ago, which still haven't been unpacked. It's cold, damp, and smelly in the winter and stifling hot and always full of flies and insects in the summer!?! Its structure is a mismatch of concrete, crumbling bricks, rotten bits of wood, chipboard, old offcuts of MDF, cardboard, and any number of porous materials the previous tenant used to fill in gaps in the ceiling and and rafters.

When it rains, the roof doesn't actually leak, but water comes running down one wall and comes in from under the garage door and around the frame. The floor is concrete and usually wet in places. The double glazed door from the kitchen gets opened and shut constantly all day, as our two dogs must go outside every couple of hours. I'm in and out for the freezer and tumble dryer and my daughter stores her outdoor boots, bicycle, trampoline, etc. in there along with various other things.

We have reached a crisis point with the mice. They have infested our bedroom and kitchen and are running riot, peeing and pooping in all our laundry, linen, towels, and even the cooker! The kitchen surfaces are always splattered with urine and all our windows have a layer if brown dust and grease on them.

Even our skin has this terrible brown powdery dust and grease, especially our neck, hair, forehead, scalp, and ears. Our fingernails turn yellow and brown when we touch our hair!

I hear mice in the kitchen, bedroom, behind the bath panels, in the sofa cushions, and behind the fridge, in the cooker, in the drain pipes, in the garage, etc. I've seen mice running across the garage floor. I smell their rancid odour so many times I feel likes it's coming from out of me! It stinks in the house and I'm horrified.

A few weeks ago we both had a serious body lice infestation and were covered in so many ticks that we had to go into hospital to them removed. They came from mice and rats we have been told. We also tested positive for Lyme disease. The hospital contacted our landlord, but he is accepting no responsibility whatsoever and says that pest control is all down to the tenant and that the property did not have a pest problem before we moved in with our dogs, ie. the ticks and lice came from our dogs! This is so untrue!

Our dogs actually got contact dermatitis from the mice urine and droppings and infections from swarms of ticks, despite only ever having lead walks around the village. They never once had a flea, louse, or tick on them until we moved here. But I'm in the poop as I can not prove a darn thing. I've had pest control come I three times, but strangely enough, they can never find any live mice. Only a few droppings and old patches of urine. They appear to only come in briefly and don't live inside our home. So why so much damage and why no evidence of them being here?

Right now I have the smell of them radiating from the tumble dryer every time I open the door, I hear the scratching and then the smell just bursts out; it stinks. The dogs are nervous 24/7, constantly on guard, barking and watching different parts of the bungalow. They never settle and they follow me everywhere.

I'm covered in lumps and spots and bites and scabs from constantly scratching at my relentlessly itching skin. I feel grubby and dirty all the time, my skin is greasy and my face is covered in brown smudges and orangey brown powder is stuck in my hairline. My scalp is jumping and my hair feels like it has a life if its own. When I scratch an itchy bump it becomes almost a scratching frenzy to get relief. I don't know if this is due to the biting and burrowing parasites and insects brought in on the mice or if I'm actually having an allergic reaction to the mice? How can I get rid if these mice, if pest control say they aren't even here? They must be or why are our skin and immune systems and our home under attack?

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February 21, 2012

Will moth balls help get rid of mice? My cat is too large to get in the space where the mice are getting in behind my cabinets. I could drop moth balls down there. Maybe the smell of the balls would deter the mice.

By LAL

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February 23, 20120 found this helpful
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Peppermint oil on cotton balls.

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February 23, 20120 found this helpful
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Mothballs can kill your cat. Are you willing to risk that? If so, please just find it a nice home right now, before you deal with the mice.

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February 23, 20120 found this helpful
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Years ago, I read in Mother Earth News that mice and rats have a one way digestive system, so they can't burp.

They suggested putting a lid of soda down and they will drink and go away and stop annoying you. I have also read on Diggs that if you mix baking soda half and half with a cake mix, then sprinkle it around the inside and outside of the "entry ways" it works like a charm. Worth a try, right?

The other posters are right, they don't bother with things that they can't eat. They don't have good eyesight so they feel their way along walls and baseboards by their whiskers.

And you can put it other places where your cat can get to, without any risk.
I hope this helps.

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February 27, 2012

Is there anything you can put around your house outside to prevent mice in a old home?

By Bev

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February 27, 20120 found this helpful
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Any mouse deterrant product would only be a temporary fix and would have to be reapplied. You say you have an old house so there must be many places mice can enter. All openings no matter how small must be sealed from the outside. Especially around any pipes that enter the house and areas under the siding. No easy fix in an old house.

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February 28, 20120 found this helpful
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In my opinion nothing works better than a female cat.

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December 4, 2013

Do the Pest Offense plug-ins keep mice and rats out?

By Meka

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November 22, 2012

How can you keep mice from getting in your kitchen drawers?

By mandy87

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Anonymous
December 4, 20120 found this helpful
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Get an inside cat. We have not had mice in years.

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March 7, 2013

I want to know why mice are digging in my houseplants? I have had houseplants for last 30 years, but never had mice in my home. I live in a mobile home and have 2 dogs. I want to rid my home of these little creatures without killing my plants. What can I put in my plants? I did find the hole they came in and closed it off. What can you suggest? Help.

By Ann

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