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What to Do About Wild Mice

Keep mice out with these humane tips

Adapted from the book Wild Neighbors

house mice

Kelly Tipton/Sibley Nature Center

House mice, like all animals, like to stay warm and fed, and often spend their lives comfortably inside buildings without causing any problems. If they must go however, these humane tips will help you find them a new home.

Humane removal

Native white-footed and deer mice who move indoors during the early fall or winter can be live-trapped and returned to the outdoors.

House mice and rodents that have lived in buildings for their entire lives will have a slim chance of surviving outdoors. If possible, relocate mice to an outbuilding like a shed or garage.

Purchase a copy of Wild Neighbors; the go-to guide for useful, humane solutions to conflicts with wildlife »

Humane methods

Live traps are the only humane trapping option, and can be easily purchased in hardware stores or online. Glue boards, snap traps, poisons and electrocution traps, on the other hand, are incredibly cruel and cause undue suffering to animals. Lethal control can never be justified without a diligent effort to prevent the recurrence of problems.

You should never use glue boards or lethal options to solve a mouse problem. Find out why »

Prevent reentry

Keeping mice out of buildings can be a difficult, long-term process — they can enter buildings through openings no larger than the size of a dime.But diligent preparation is the only way to permanently stop mice from coming back.

Common entry points

  • Utility pipe and wire entries.
  • Deteriorating siding
  • Cracks in home foundations.

If you suspect a mouse is entering in a particular area, sprinkling baby powder or flour lightly along the suspected wall will help you detect any tracks. Keeping flowers, shrubs, and hedges trimmed at least 18 inches out from the foundation of your house will deter mice from finding their way in — this will also make it easier to find possible entry points.

Repairing holes

Rubber and plastic fillers (including caulk) are easily chewed through by mice and won’t work to keep them out long-term. The following repair tips will help you mouse-proof your house:

  • Plug cracks around drainpipes and small openings with wire mesh or quick-drying cement.
  • The best way to seal openings that don’t involve electrical wiring is a copper mesh pan scrubber.
  • Ball up galvanized window screen and stuff it into larger openings, then finish with caulking or cement.
  • Fill small openings with expanding-foam insulation.

Habitat modification

If you’ve recently had a mouse problem, it’s essential that you clean up any food sources they may be seeking if they return. Some examples include:

  • Breadcrumbs under the toaster.
  • Spilled birdseed in outbuildings.
  • Pet food left out overnight.
  • Food that isn’t stored in an airtight container.

Health concerns

Mice can carry a number human-transmissible diseases. For this reason, you should take care in handling mice that aren’t kept as pets. You should also throw away food at the first sign that mice have gotten to it — even if you’re not positive.

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