House Mouse Prevention & Control

Duane Friend

Mice can be a problem in almost any house. The following information comes from the University of Illinois Extension website Living with Wildlife in Illinois.  The house mouse (Mus musculus) is considered one of the most troublesome and economically important pests in the United States. House mice live and thrive under a variety of conditions in and around homes and farms. House mice consume food meant for humans or pets. They contaminate food-preparation surfaces with their feces, which can contain the bacterium that causes food poisoning (salmonellosis). Their constant gnawing causes damage to structures and property.

Recognizing Mouse Infestations

Droppings, fresh gnawing and tracks indicate areas where mice are active. Mouse nests, made from fine shredded paper or other fibrous material, are often found in sheltered locations. House mice have a characteristic musky odor that identifies their presence. Mice are occasionally seen during daylight hours. They can slip through a crack that a pencil will fit into (sightly larger than 1/4 inch in diameter).

Prevention and Control

Effective mouse control involves sanitation, mouse proof construction and population reduction. When a mouse infestation exists, some form of population reduction is almost always necessary. Reduction techniques include trapping and poisoning.

Sanitation. Although good sanitation will seldom eliminate mice, poor sanitation is sure to attract them and will permit them to thrive in greater numbers. Good sanitation will also reduce food and shelter for existing mice and in turn make baits and traps more effective. Pay particular attention to eliminating places where mice can find shelter.

Mouse-Proof Construction. The most successful and permanent form of house mouse control is to “build them out” by eliminating all openings through which they can enter a structure. Dried grain and meat products should be stored in glass jars, metal canisters or other resealable airtight containers.

Seal any openings larger than 1/4 inch to exclude mice. Steel wool mixed with caulking compound makes a good plug. Doors, windows and screens should fit tightly. It may be necessary to cover the edges with metal to prevent gnawing.

Traps. The simple, inexpensive wood-based snap trap is effective and can be purchased in most hardware and grocery stores. Bait traps with peanut butter, chocolate candy, dried fruit or a small piece of bacon tied securely to the trigger. Multiple-capture live traps, which can capture several mice once set, are also available in some hardware and feed stores. Set traps close to walls, behind objects, in dark corners and in places where evidence of mouse activity is seen. Place them so that mice will pass directly over the triggers as they follow the natural course of travel, usually close to a wall. Use enough traps to eliminate the rodents quickly.

Poison Baits (Rodenticides). Rodenticides are poisons that kill rodents. They can be purchased in hardware stores, feed stores, discount stores, garden centers and other places where pesticides are sold.

Control by Cats and Dogs. Although cats, dogs and other predators may kill mice, they do not give effective control in most circumstances. Mice and rats may obtain much of their diet from the pet’s dish or from what pets spill.

Disposal of Dead Rodents

Always wear intact rubber or plastic gloves when removing dead rodents and when cleaning or disinfecting items contaminated by rodents. Put the dead rodent in a plastic bag; the bag should be placed in a second bag and tightly sealed. Dispose of rodents in trash containers with tightfitting lids. Traps can be disinfected by soaking them in a solution of three tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water or a commercial disinfectant containing phenol. After handling rodents, resetting traps and cleaning contaminated objects, thoroughly wash gloved hands in a general household disinfectant or in soap and warm water. Then remove gloves and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water.

For more information visit the Living with Wildlife website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/wildlife

 

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About the author

Duane is an Educator with University of Illinois Extension in the Calhoun/Cass/Greene/Morgan/Scott unit. http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccgms/ http://web.extension.illinois.edu/state/

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