Mice are an exasperating year-round problem, but cool temperatures and and less outdoor food make the fall and winter especially fraught. Not only are mice irritating, but they can carry more than 35 dangerous diseases (like the plague!) and spread them to humans and pets. (If you have mice urine and droppings inside, it’s important to follow the CDC’s cleaning recommendations to properly protect yourself and your family.) And health concerns are just the beginning—they can also cause severe damage to your home.
“House mice can cause serious property damage by chewing through materials,” said Jim Fredericks, Ph.D., chief entomologist and vice president of technical and regulatory affairs for the National Pest Management Association. “They have been known to spark electrical fires by gnawing on wires inside homes.”
You want to act fast at the first sign of a mouse in the house. A female house mouse can have up to 12 babies every three weeks, or 150 babies in a single year, according to Fredericks. So what do you do when find droppings or run into an unwanted guest in the night?
Why Poisons and Non-humane Traps Aren’t the Answer
At its most basic level, killing mice isn’t the solution. No matter the method, simply trying to get rid of all of the mice around your home is never going to work because it doesn’t stop the ones that survive from coming inside.
Even so, pesticides and poisons are one of the first things people think of when they discover a mouse infestation. But these pesticides are dangerous with children in the house and often poison other animals like dogs, cats, and birds. Rodenticides are the second most common cause of poisoning in pets according to a recent study. They can also leach into groundwater or, if a poisoned mouse exits your house before dying, end up poisoning wild predators like mountain lions, bobcats, raptors, and coyotes that find the ill mouse as an easy kill.
Even if the mouse doesn't make it outside before dying, poisons are still a recipe for disaster. The mice can die in hard to reach places like inside your walls and create a powerful smell that is difficult, not to mention expensive, to get rid of.
Non-humane traps like glue traps and snap traps should also be avoided. While snap traps often fail to quickly and painlessly kill mice as they are designed to do, sticky traps are the worst offenders. Sticky traps can rip off fur and skin while the mouse struggles. Some mice have even attempted to chew off their feet to break free. Once stuck, the mice slowly die of dehydration.
The Best Ways To Get Rid Of Mice–And Keep Them Out For Good
Instead of reaching for the poison in desperation, take preventative steps to ensure mice don’t become an issue in the first place. Follow these recommendations from pest control experts to take care of your mouse problem humanely.