The Best Ways to Catch a Mouse
Christmas came early this year for my roommates and I. True to form, it came down the chimney, all bundled in fur, with beady, black eyes and a tail. Ho, ho, hold on... yes, it was a mouse. With only two days to get rid of the little darling before my parents came for a visit, it was necessary to approach the problem with cat-like tread, and determine the best way to catch a mouse.
When it comes to catching rodents, your first thoughts are likely to run to your typical "snap/clap" mousetraps. Next to cats and other predatory animals, this method has been around the longest, and is starting to show its age in a society that tends to lean towards more humane means of pest-control. However, if you choose to use these traps, there are a few key points to consider:
- Location, location, location: This is especially important whenever you are attempting to catch an unwanted houseguest. Regardless of what traps you choose to use, the simple truth is if you don't put it in the right place, you're just wasting your time. So, like any good hunter, you must stalk your prey. This means listening for the little scratching and skittering noises associated with rodents, and forcing yourself to actually watch the creature when it comes out of hiding.
For instance, "Houdini" was an escape artist who seemed to literally vanish into the walls, no matter how we barricaded the kitchen. It was only after I got down on my hands and knees and observed him disappearing into a corner, that I discovered the myriad of holes that were in the bottom of the cabinets, and the boards that ran along the edge of the floor. He was not, as we had long theorized, hiding behind the refrigerator. After we knew precisely where he was hiding, it was then very easy to catch him. Therefore, the first rule of trapping a mouse is observation and subsequently, location.
- Bait- Using the proper bait to attract the mouse is clearly another must. However, mice are talented at grabbing the bait without getting caught, so don't think that a slice of cheese is going to work. If you must use cheese, use soft cheeses (like brie) that really stick to the trap. If you use something like Swiss, the mouse will be able to lift it right off the pad, and get away with little worse that a bloody foot. Ideally, I recommend using peanut butter, which is sticky and has a very strong scent.
If clap-traps and D-con or other rodent/rat poisons are not to your taste, try this non-lethal method of pest-control. All you need is some type of tube, a box/bucket, and the edge of a table, countertop, or cardboard ramp.
1.) Get a toilet paper tube and crease two lines to form a flat sided tunnel; make sure it looks like a box, rather than a circle, which can roll around when the mouse is inside.
2.) Put a treat on one end of the tube: A cracker with dab of peanut butter works great.
3.) Get a tall (at least 20 inches) box or bucket. A non-lined trash can is ideal; you don't want to suffocate the mouse.
4.) Balance the tube on the edge of a table or counter (or self-made ramp) with the treat hanging directly over the trashcan or tall box; because they like tunnels, the mouse will scamper to the treat and tip into the trap.
You've Caught It... Now What?
Although using rat poison is the easiest way to get rid of a mouse, having a dead rodent rotting inside your walls, in a crawlspace, or in the back of your cabinets is unpleasant and dangerous to your health. Therefore, I recommend using either the standard traps, or the catch and release method, where you are actually assured that the mouse is gone for good.
Once you've either buried or released the mouse (at least a mile away from your residence), there are a few more tasks that you need to do in order to avoid any future unwanted visitors. If your home has already had mice running through, they have left their scent for other mice to follow. Therefore, it is very important to find their entry point and determine how to block it. Also, be sure to clean and disinfect any surfaces with which the mouse may have had contact. This not only gets rid of the scent, but also any other harmful bacteria or goodies that might have been left behind.
What NOT to Do
Before you go out there and start hunting those rascally rodents, here are a few last-minute reminders about what will not work... and also that which can be dangerous for all involved.
1.) Fill any mouse-holes with spackle... especially if the mouse isn't actually inside the hole. Such action will, of course, result in the rodent making another hole. Moreover, trapping the mouse inside its hole will only serve to starve it to death and result in a rotting mouse with a very unpleasant stench.
2.) Think, in any way, that you can simply corner the mouse, scoop it up, and take it outside. Mice chase each other for fun since they are young. They are much faster and smaller than you, and as such, will easily be able to evade you.
3.) Plaster all areas along the floor with sticky-traps, or tape cupboards shut in case they come up through the pipes. Some people are under the misconception that this is far more humane than the clap-traps. However, imagine that you are a mouse, whose body is entirely covered in fur, with a fragile tail, and not much strength; next, picture super-gluing yourself to a sheet of paper, and then trying to pull free, only to rip off your tail and a mass of hair. If you still think this sounds better than death, I invite you to cover your entire arm in duct tape, and then slowly pull it off. Finally, because mice are small and scotch tape is not very strong, chances are, the poor thing will still attempt to squeeze through, and get caught in a similar sticky situation. It will scream, and you will be forced to rescue it. Have fun.