Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our Mice (and Mousetrap) Problem

As I recently mentioned, we have a mouse problem in our house. We've always had some problems with mice, but never like this year. We've had a mouse regularly getting into the broiling compartment or our gas oven. I believe this is the same one that I've seen, multiple times, come out onto the stove top, even though I was sitting only feet away. We've also had mice come right out into the open in the living room, with both Andrea and I sitting there. My biggest concerns with the mice are related to hygiene and the potential that we'll have to throw good food away if they get into it. Seeing a mouse tends to freak Andrea out, and has ran her out of her bedroom more than once.

We had hoped, when she first came to live with us, that Kitty would take care of our mouse problem. We hoped that she would diligently hunt down any mouse in the area and dispose of it without us ever having to be involved. If nothing else, we hoped that her scent might be a deterrent to the mice. It turns out, however, that neither of these is the case. In all fairness, Kitty will chase a mouse if she sees it. She just doesn't put forth the type of effort to catch them that we had hoped. To my knowledge she has never caught a mouse inside the house, although she has, in the past, caught small rodents outside. In reality, though, it seems that the dogs are much better hunters than she is. If we were to let them inside the house, though, a few mice would be the least of our problems.

As much as we hated to, we decided years ago that the best way to deal with mice in the house was to set traps. We went through several types of traps before finding a type that worked for us. We started with the traditional mouse trap that everyone is familiar with. I quickly learned that I am terrible at setting those things. Maybe if we had bought better quality traps it would have been easier, but I found myself spending several minutes just trying to set one trap. Half the time, when I did manage to get it set, I'd later realize that I did so in a way that prevented it from being triggered when the mouse took the bait.

Next we tried the Victor Quick Set Mouse Trap. As advertised, these traps are much easier to set. In fact, these are probably the easiest to set traps that I've seen. Not only are they easy to set, but they also provide an easy way to dispose of the mouse without having to touch it. I had very high hopes, initially, that the Quick Set would solve our problem. Unfortunately, however, the traps didn't work out as well as I had hoped. We did catch some mice with the traps, but more often than not, the mouse was able to get the bait without setting off the trap. Perhaps this was caused by a flaw in the way I baited the traps, but I was never able to find a method that gave me a consistent result.

The next trap that we tried was the Kness Snap-E Mouse Trap. The Snap-E has been, by far, the best trap that we've used. Setting the trap is very simple. While it may not be quite as foolproof as the Quick Set, it is much easier to set than a traditional trap, and I've never had any problems. Disposal of the mouse carcass is also very easy, and, much like the Quick Set, can be done without touching the mouse. Early on I had some problem with losing the bait without the trap being set off, but I think I've figured out how to apply the bait in a way that, for the most part, solves that problem.

After using a single Snap-E Mouse Trap for quite some time, we decided that it was time to order a couple more. Since we had seen mice in multiple locations, we wanted to be able to set traps in each. With three traps set, we caught six mice in the first two days of our focused attempt at ridding the house of them. Several of those were caught during the daytime, which is not something we had been able to do before. I think that is likely a sign that these mice were much more bold than the ones we have dealt with in the past. Yesterday morning when I checked the traps they were all empty, and all still set and baited. I checked again this morning, and found the same. While I seriously doubt that we've gotten rid of all of the mice that quickly, I do take it as a good sign.

In the meantime, Andrea decided to order some of the sonic pest deterrent devices, to see if those might help. She went with the Victor Sonic Pest Chaser. They have not yet been delivered, so I can't comment on their effectiveness. I suspect that we'll use them in Andrea's bathroom and bedroom, in hopes that, if they do work, they will drive the mice into the other parts of the house, where we have the Snap-E traps set. We have to be careful where we set traps, because we don't want kitty to accidentally get caught in one. Also, as it is, Andrea makes me go check the trap in my bathroom before she'll go in there, so having one set in her bedroom and/or bathroom would not go over very well.

Using traps is not my preferred method of dealing with the problem of mice. The most effective, and humane, solution is to identify and seal their entry points into the house. I think of traps as a temporary solution, until we can find a way to prevent them from getting inside. I know there are some holes behind the stove that we need to fill. We thought we had them fixed, by filling them with modeling clay, but I suspect that something has happened. I need to pull the stove away from the wall again and check. Unfortunately, to really cover the holes, I need to pull the stove out completely, but that requires unhooking the gas line, which I'm not comfortable doing myself. I'll probably get my dad to help me with that the next time he's visiting. Until then I guess we'll just keep traps set, and our fingers crossed.


  1. We've had our own mouse battles, so maybe my two cents worth will help. (If not, feel free to ignore, of course.)

    First, it's essential to hit the mouse problem hard when you see the first sign. Our first couple of years, we were a bit lackadaisical if we just saw a few droppings, but that one mouse always seems to be female and to turn into ten mice in short order.

    We've tried all kinds of traps, just like you. A very expensive one that works well electrocutes mice and then drops them down through a trap door into a bin. That means you can catch several mice per night! Although the idea sounds a bit gimmicky, I've found that mice learn pretty fast about traps, so you want to get them all as quickly as possible once you start trapping.

    Another thing I learned by reading the Amazon reviews of the trap we got --- it's helpful to change your bait choices. If you've caught all the ones that will come to peanut butter, try a night of strong-smelling (cheddar, etc.) cheese. The reviewer even recommended using toilet paper since they'll grab it for bedding, but we never had luck with that.

    We finally seem to have licked the problem using that method. We do still have a mouse try to move in once or twice a year, but we catch it immediately and then don't see problems for months. Good luck!

    1. I looked at one of the electronic traps like you mentioned. I do like the ability to capture multiple mice without resetting the trap, so if we continue to have problems I may very well look into one of those.

      The suggestion of switching baits is a fantastic one. I've been using peanut butter for bait, but had never considered the fact that some mice might prefer another bait. If I don't catch anything with peanut butter soon, I'll try switching and seeing how that works. Thanks for the suggestion.