Mice and Rats


We recommend live traps for mice. Snap traps can make mice and rats trap shy and are often ineffective after initial success. Pesticides carry the risk of secondary pest infestation. If there are dead mice in your house, sometimes you get insects feeding on the dead carcass, like larder beetle infestations. There is no bait that makes the rodents go outside to look for water, no pesticide company has made this claim.

I have witnessed rats being poisoned outside and going back in their nest in the house to die. (What a stench!) Not all live traps are made equal and we recommend Havahart livetraps. They work the best. If you have mice you will also want to figure out how they got in to prevent future problems. A thorough exterior inspection is needed.

Mice, esp. deer mice (they are brown and white coloured) can carry the dangerous hanta virus. Therefore, never vacum or sweep mice droppings, unless you are professionally equipped. Wear a mask and plastic gloves, use a desinfectant and damp throw away towels when cleaning up mouse droppings. Some building supply stores carry unbleached throw away towels. This is one job where it is justified to use them.

Successful, long-term mouse and rat control involves a few steps:

1. Identify your problem
2. Seal off all possible entry points into the building
3. Remove or limit access to food sources on the inside
4. Trap (or bait) the remaining rodent population
5. Clean up mouse and rat droppings properly

1) Identify your problem
By sight: You have seen the intruder and identified it as mouse, roof rat or sewer rat (Norway rat).

By size of droppings: mice droppings are small, rood rat droppings a bit bigger then mice droppings and often people mistake roof rat droppings for mice droppings.

2) Seal off all possible entry points into the building

Otherwise mice will go outside and feed outside and then come back to sleep and procreate in the building. Stopping the mice from doing this will: - increase your trapping success (less food choices for the rodent) - prevent new infestations in the future.

Check for entry points around the outside of your home. Common entry points for mice are:
• water pipes entering the home
• electrical wire entering your home from outside or from the garage
• underneath ducts like dryer vents, air vents and the like. That is usually not the actual duct but the gap between the duct and the exterior finish. If mice enter there they have full access to the house as they can run on top of ducts and wires

Rats will often come into the building from or around old water pipes and the sewer system, so attention in these areas is crucial as well. Especially for sewer rats (Norway rats) pay special attention in the basement (or crawl space).

3) Remove or limit access to food sources on the inside.


You want to prevent them from getting any food except from traps, because access to food controls the mouse population.

If access to food canít be controlled, you can bait and trap for a long time without getting rid of your mouse problem. When that happens, often problems with trap shyness develop or if bait was used it often becomes ineffective. Trap shyness means that the mice either get really good at taking the bait from the trap without setting the trap off, or just avoid the trap. Best then to use a live trap like Havahart after the entry points are sealed off.

In a food establishment it can be hard to limit access to food, sometimes simple baskets or bags are enough of a deterrent if the traps are set plentiful.

4) Trap (or bait) the remaining rodent population.

With traps you have two choices: live traps or snap traps.

• Live traps: Havahart traps work well. Other designs may or may not work well.
• Snap traps: Most snap trap work well, some very cheap models are harder to set, if you are dealing with a mouse problem on your own with snap traps, buy some good quality ones or plastic snap trap that can easily be reused. Only put a tiny bit of bait in the center of the trap to increase the chances of a quick death for the mouse.
• Bucket technique: Cheap and capable of catching many mice in one night (when they work). Instructions on how to build one are on the internet. Can be helpful when there are many mice, like in a barn.

Usually I discourage the use of bait. There are a few reasons for this:

• Baits are pesticides and are meant to kill, so itís dangerous stuff to have around.
• Sometimes a mouse or rat killed by bait can give off quite a smell, especially in a damp basement.
• Using bait only to control a mouse or rat population (without sealing off entry points) can lead to long-term bait resistance. The mice or rats learn from experience that the bait is poisonous and avoid it or take it to a different location in the building to hoard it without eating it. Secondary pest infestations can happen too, occasionally, and then you have insects feeding on the dead mice carcasses, like in a larder beetle infestation or flies.
• Sometimes rats are being poisoned outside or by a neighbor and then go in the house to die. (What a stench!) Another reason to seal of the outside of your home properly. Less problems down the road.

Not all live traps are made equally, and we recommend Havahart live traps. They work the best in my experience. If you have mice you will also want to figure out how they got in to prevent future problems. A thorough exterior inspection is needed.

How long will it take to get rid of the rodent?


All rodents (like mice, rats and squirrels) like to hoard food for scarce times. IF you had your mouse or rat problem since a longer time and they had access to lots of food, they will have likely stored it away in the house somewhere. Naturally, they are less likely to go in the traps then and it can take a little longer. Mice and rats can really get into food like birdseed, dog food or cat food and start hoarding. Therefore it is best to deal with them as soon as you notice. So sometimes a mouse problem can be solved in a few days, and sometimes it can take three to four weeks and in rare cases even longer. If it takes longer, you need to investigate if there is a hidden foodsource somewhere in the house or if the mice or rats are still able to get in from outside somehow.

Clean up mouse and rat droppings properly.
Mice, esp. deer mice/field mice (they are brown and white colored) can carry the dangerous hanta virus. The hanta virus that can be deadly for people with a weak immune system. Therefore, avoid having droppings become airborne without precautions being taken. That means, no vacuuming, no sweeping with out prep and precautions.

How to clean up mouse droppings:
Spray and soak droppings with disinfectant, wait 10 minutes so the moisture can soak into the mouse dropping and then use throwaway towels to clean them up.

Alternatively, sticky tape works well to pick up droppings from a carpet without disturbing them much. Wear plastic gloves of course.

Therefore, vacuuming or sweeping mice droppings is not recommended unless you are professionally equipped with a hepa filter vacuum, mask and plastic gloves, creating a negative air pressure in the house with fans and the like.

How to overcome mouse phobias:

Some people are very afraid of mice /rats. In that case, if possible, it is often good to get the mice out of the living room and kitchen areas so people are more comfortable. For example, the water pipes under the kitchen sink often allow the mice to come up into the kitchen from the basement. Sealing around these pipes keeps the mice in the basement where you can then catch them. The electrical wire that powers the dishwasher is another likely place for the mice to get from basement to kitchen. This can usually be closed up, if people have a mouse phobia. Otherwise it is often easier to just leave these spaces open and catch the mice there- they are used to go here already anyways and if the outside sealing up job is done, the problem will resolve soon.

If you are someone who suffers from extreme anxiety when having to deal with rodents, you are not alone. Fear of heights and fear of mice are two wide spread phobias that people have.

An excellent tool to minimize or overcome a mouse phobia (or any other anxiety) is through EFT, short for Emotional Freedom Technique. There are many good videos on EFT shown on Youtube, some specific for mouse phobia. To learn EFT from a practitioner (and that is the best way) you can contact Linda Lou McQuinn at LL@OttawaEFT.com She is an excellent teacher and I highly recommend her. EFT is amazingly gentle and effective. EFT helps with a wide variety of issues, not only phobias.

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