Michael is an author with a passion for the environment. He is trying to save the planet, one reader at a time!
How to Get Rid of Mice Without Killing Them
A single random mouse might seem cute, but if you spot one, there is bound to be an entire horde of mice living in your home. They are known for their vivacious breeding habits. All it takes is just one of these furry critters to get in, and within a matter of weeks, there could be dozens. Once they start nesting, it then becomes an uphill battle trying to get rid of them.
Living with mice isn't just embarrassing or bothersome, it is a major health hazard. They use their urine as a method of communication. So, as they're scurrying around your house foraging for food, they are systematically urinating everywhere and spreading disease. Mice also have the tendency to gnaw on wires, which becomes an electrical nightmare.
Personally, a single stray mouse may be cute to me. But, once you start hearing them during the night, flipping and flopping around in your walls, it is definitely time to take action. But I am a lover of all animals, and I just don't have the heart to kill them. The following are five simple ways to get rid of mice without killing them.
#1 Mouse-Proof Your Home
One of the easiest ways to rid yourself of a rodent infestation is to prevent one before it even has a possibility of happening. Most homes are invaded by rodents during the cold winter months as they find a nice warm place to nest, eat, and have their young. Here is a comprehensive checklist to rodent-proof your house:
- If you have trees near your home, make sure to trim down branches so they can't be used as bridges. They will enter through any opening in your roof or attic to get themselves inside your walls.
- Locate any holes and gaps that mice can squeeze through, and seal it off with something highly durable, such as sheet metal or steel wool. Keep in mind that your average mouse can fit through any opening a little bigger than 1/4 of an inch.
- Use weather stripping to seal all window frames and doors where it presents easy access.
- Position your trash cans a good distance from your home.
- They tend to have their nesting in old storage boxes, the interior of your walls, and anything soft that can be used as bedding for nesting material. I've even seen a few nest in an old stuffed animal in the garage. Clean out any vulnerable areas where they can bed down.
If one mouse is a spark...then ten thousand are a conflagration.
— Carmen Agra Deedy
#2 Use Scents That Are Mouse Repellent
A smell that mice absolutely hate includes garlic and spicy scents such as cayenne pepper. Your best bet would probably be peppermint. Mice have a sharp sense of smell, so implementing these certain odors at key points in your home will deter their presence. Acquire some peppermint oil and cotton balls.
Simply soak some of the cotton balls and place them strategically where you suspect their activity. The great thing about using these aromas is that it's all natural and safer for household pets and children. Additionally, they won't do any harm to them.
However, it is prudent to keep in mind that mice are smart and can easily circumvent these measures. So, it is important to supplement this tactic with other tactics, such as sealing up your home, nice and tight.
#3 Keep Your Home as Clean as Possible
Rodents love a house that is in an unsanitary condition. Clear the clutter from around your house, especially in your garage, attic, and closets. Keep as much of your food as possible in airtight glass or tin containers.
You should also switch to metal containers for your trash; your garbage is their endless buffet. The average adult mouse can survive on just a few grams of food per day, so a few scraps or crumbs of food is all they really need to get by.
#4 Using Non-Lethal Mouse Traps
A more humane alternative to traditional snapping rat traps and toxic glue traps are the non-lethal traps. They're used to catch them without incurring harm to the mice. The majority of these traps are bait-based traps, luring them into an enclosure that makes it impossible for them to climb back out. As far as bait goes, mice have a bit of a sweet tooth.
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Using cookie crumbs, some chocolate, or even peanut butter will do nicely to entice them. The best place to lay the traps are around areas where they frequent, areas with droppings and signs of rodent activity. This catch and release method is only viable if you don't already have a full blown mice infestation on your hands.
Plus, when you plan to release them, make sure you travel a minimum of half a mile from your home, or else they just come straight back. This approach takes a more considerable amount of effort instead of using poison.
#5 Lining Certain Areas of Your Home with Aluminum Foil
This may sound unconventional, but aluminum foil is like kryptonite to mice. There's something about it that is unnatural to them, and they steer clear of it. Although foil is a great deterrent for them, it really isn't too practical to have it strewn about everywhere.
Lay down foil where you feel the highest concentration of activity is present. So obviously wrapping certain foods that are left out would be ideal protection from the mice nibbling and contaminating your leftovers.
Interesting Facts About Mice
- There are at least 30 known species.
- They possess an acute sense of smell and excellent hearing but have poor eyesight. They are nocturnal by nature and thus are most active at night.
- As a pet, a mouse is most content having at least one other mouse to keep it company.
- Females are capable of giving birth to litters of up to 15 at a time, after being only two months mature.
- After delivering a litter, they are able to get pregnant again just after 48 hours.
- In Zambia, they are eaten as a rich source of protein and considered a delicacy.
- They are very social animals and communicate using different sets of squeaks and their urine.
- They can eat up to 25 times a day, thus they usually live near available food sources.
- They can be quite athletic, capable of climbing, swimming, and even jumping upwards of up to two feet.
- When they are in the wild, they can eat almost anything they come across.
Please feel free to share this article with friends and your social network!
- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals "Is There a Humane Way to Get Rid of Mice and Rats?" 2012
- Pests.org "How to Get Rid of Mice" 2015
- Earthkind "Proven Best Ways for Getting Rid of Mice Naturally" 2017
- New York Department of Health "Mouse Control" 2017
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2016 Michael Kismet
animal lover on February 28, 2020:
Theres a different problem with me see I have mice but I also have cats so the mice will come out of the wall and mess with my cats and my cats get pissed off so they try to kill them and I have to lock them in their room's...yeah so im living in a mouse house right now lol
Spider whisperer on August 20, 2019:
Right but where's the article about what to do when spiders get stuck in sticky traps and then you're stuck in a trap of guilt and you realize you can't free them and you don't want them to suffer so you have to spray them but you're worried the spray will render the adhesive in the trap ineffective against any other future spiders aaaaaahhhh
Annette McClain on June 01, 2019:
I love cats . No issues when cats are around. Also a pet snake that would eat mice helps if the cat caught one . Snake had an extra treat. They gross rodents.
Mike W on May 17, 2019:
Best deterrent is cats..I have 3 and no mouse dares to enter lol
Mice do not enjoy the smell of cat urine!!
I myself do not believe in killing any animal including mice..
They feel pain just like us!!!
Just some psycho on October 29, 2018:
Think about it this way if I stomp on a mouse and it dies I didn't kill it, I caused the boot to move giving the mouse injuries which killed it.
Also if u can't kill mice have someone else do it who isn't so squeamish
LG on July 31, 2018:
Great trap, going to make one!
Patsyann on April 03, 2018:
Good read. I found I have mice in my attic. I think because I leave the side-garage door open for the dog to go in and out.
Sophia Vargas on March 23, 2018:
Thank you so much for the advice but my parents are gonna kill the rat in
my garage and I’m so so so so so sad like you said I am a true lover of animals
and don’t have the heart to kill them my parents Are just being mean just because my mom does not like mice doesn’t mean they have to kill it i’m so sad I’m sorry I told you this but I really had to tell you I’m so sorry if I made you cry but I really really really need to tell you
Holly on February 10, 2018:
I'm scared I will release it and it will be poisoned. I might keep it as a pet and purchase a friend for it from the pet store
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on January 22, 2018:
Great idea! I, too, hate killing any animals, and this is a great alternative. We once had a problem with a squirrel, so we got a live humane trap, and released the critter a good mile away from our home, in an open area.
When my kids were young, we lived in an old house, and we had an awful problem with mice at first. Then, we got a cat who turned out to be a good mouser.
I even felt bad for the mice then, so I taught the cat to run into the bathroom (which had no escape points), when he caught a mouse. After half an hour or so, we let the cat out, and there was no sign a mouse had been anywhere near.
It didn't take too long before the mice seemed to 'get the word,' "Oh, a cat lives here: stay away!"
Here, we have never had an issue, possibly because we have multiple cats. ;-)
But, I like your DIY solution; it's very clever.
Anthony on December 22, 2017:
What is the green stuff , put out to kill mice.
And is it harmful to people?
Dee on January 19, 2017:
Awesome article. Ive done the steelwool trick where I've found them entering under a bathroom cabinet... and then roommates got a cat... Quiet after 2 monthes. I also, not really humane, got thick sticky traps that Ive only found in Lucky's... put a peice of chocolate or bbq chip stuck right in the middle... and they lure in less than a week.
Chuck Bluestein from Morristown, AZ, USA on December 24, 2016:
This is a great article. Very good video that you added to it. I had a lot of mice coming into my third floor apartment. They were coming in with the pipes that went from the basement to my stove/oven. So I taped up all the places in stove that they could get into my apartment and never had a mouse again. So the most important thing is to mouse proof the home.