A mouse infestation is a common but unsettling occurrence, especially for homes that are in or near the countryside. If mice find a food source, they will come into your house to eat and make nests. Signs of a mouse infestation include finding droppings around the home and in food cupboards. You may see gnaw marks on furniture or wooden fixtures like skirting boards and door frames. If you discover a mouse infestation, there are a few ways you can deal with it. Ideally, try a humane and kill-free first to avoid unnecessary harm or distress to the rodents.
Try humane options first
When you confirm a mouse infestation, there are a few options for removal. Although a traditional snap-close mousetrap is an option, avoid killing the mice if possible; there are several humane options to try first, including sonic devices and bait stations. Pets in the home can also deter or catch mice, helping keep the risk of infestation down.
Use sonic noise
Sonic devices emit a high-frequency sound that is inaudible to the human ear. The sound is irritating to smaller animals, including mice. Placing sonic devices near entry points or suspected nests will deter mice as well as other animals such as insects and rats. This method of treating a mouse infestation has mixed results, but is a good first option and doesn't cause any harm to the mice.
Set kill-free traps
Traditional snap-traps are considered unnecessarily cruel. Kill-free traps are not only a kinder alternative, but they're also affordable and easy to set up. Also known as a bait station, these humane traps are propped open with a tasty treat for the mouse placed inside. Peanut butter or sweet foods are typically a strong draw to a mouse that has found its way into the home. When the mouse enters the trap, the door closes behind it, and the mouse is trapped until you take it to a safe place to release it. Be sure to check on your humane traps daily so that a captured mouse doesn't starve without a food source. Mice live in groups, so this method can be unsuitable for a substantial infestation as you can only catch one mouse in each trap at a time.
Seal any openings
Sealing any openings that may be allowing mice access to your home can be very effective in dealing with an infestation. Mice can enter through holes as small as one-quarter of an inch and can gnaw their way through even smaller gaps. Caulk and steel wool are ideal materials to use to plug any gaps. Mice can chew through or remove steel wool on its own, which is why covering it with caulk is important.
Check outside for hiding spots
If you have mice inside the home, they likely live outside on your property too. Scan your outside areas, searching for places you think they could hide. Mice will typically be looking for shelter, so look in sheds, outbuildings, and garages. You may see gnaw marks where the mice have gained entry. Compost bins are also very attractive to rodents as they are a warm food source.
Prune errant shrubs and trees
Overgrown or bushy shrubs and trees can provide a safe and hidden spot for mice to hide. Mice will build nests within thick vegetation and may also use it to gain entry to your home. Branches that extend to your house provide a convenient walkway for mice, and allow them to reach higher entry points such as roofs and upper floor windows.
Seal food in airtight containers
Eliminating a food source will greatly reduce your chance of attracting mice. Mice don't want to live where they can't easily access food. Maintain good hygiene when storing food, using airtight containers for dried goods. Mice will reach food even in high cupboards or in areas that have closed doors. They often enter from the back, gnawing their way through wooden cabinets.
Clean your space thoroughly
Having a clean home free from food waste and crumbs can help deter mice from settling in the first place. Mice only enter your home if they find a food source. By eliminating this risk, you significantly reduce your chances of developing a mouse infestation. The crumbs and food sources in your kitchen are especially appealing to mice, so pay close attention to keeping this part of the home clean by sweeping floors and disinfecting worktops. Clean out larders and pantries regularly.
Find their entry point
If you suspect an infestation, investigate to find where the mice could be entering your home. Mice can fit through the very smallest of spaces. They could be entering through gaps in floorboards, or between walls and ceilings. Small gaps around window frames can allow mice into the home, as can spaces around external doors. Don't forget to check your basement and attic for hidden entry points.
When to call the professionals – and what to ask
If your attempts at dealing with a mouse infestation are unsuccessful, you may decide to call in the professionals. Ask friends or family to recommend a good local exterminator. The company should be licensed and insured, and you may want to check whether they guarantee their work will be successful. Discuss which methods they use to make sure you agree with their approach, and don't forget to check whether they use substances that may be harmful to children or pets.