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gailcalled's avatar

How do you catch mice?

Asked by gailcalled (52823 points ) August 24th, 2012

No more Mrs. Nice Guy. It’s officially war. I seem to have bionic mice who can remove peanut butter from a Havahart without triggering it. And Milo, after his initial enthusiasm, is letting the side down. Tonight I am putting glue traps out…one in my car (I shudder to think of what’s been chewed under the hood).

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52 Answers

Coloma's avatar

Crafty little guys they are. Glue traps are pretty evil, maybe just go for the regular snap traps.
I set a havaheart on my stove last summer and I caught a tree frog. lol
Frog poo and mouse poo look remarkably similar.

What they can do is remarkable in a car. Mine had the entire AC ducts filled with cat food and goose corn, and then, it managed to decapitate itself in the AC fan which manifested as a squealing sound far worse than nails on a chalkboard. Nice little repair job. haha

Gail, I can send you some pacific diamondback rattlers, let nature do the job. Just release a rattlesnake in your car and kitchen for a week. lol

LuckyGuy's avatar

When I declare war, I go big. There is no such thing as a fair fight. I use Victor snap traps – the real ones not the cheap chinese knock-offs. I set out at least a dozen to make sure the war is over quickly. I open the packages and let them air out for a day. Then I put the clean traps in a bag of bird seed and let them marinate for a day or two. They become irresistible to the little critters. I bait with sunflower seeds. s

gailcalled's avatar

@Coloma: Five stars for the most creative answer; however, I will hold off for the moment.

(Our postmistress has received, by mail, collections of bees, baby chicks, and snakes when a herpatologist freak lived here.)

I, too, had a mouse that stuffed my heating and a/c ducts in the car with sunflower seed husks. Every time I turned the heating or cooling system on, streams of husks blew out of the vents onto the floor mats.

@LuckyGuy: Are Victor traps the tradition remove-your-knuckle-if-not-careful ones? The ones, when left in a kitchen in quantity, sound like popcorn popping as they spring shut?

rooeytoo's avatar

Don’t feed Milo for a day or so, he will regain his enthusiasm for mouse hunting!

LuckyGuy's avatar

@gailcalled Yep. Those are the ones. They’re quick and reliable.

glacial's avatar

Glue traps are cruel – please don’t use them. Cat is always my favourite weapon, but failing that, snap traps are the best choice.

ccrow's avatar

I use snap traps; I know peanut butter is always recommended as bait, but the little buggers can even remove it from the snap traps so I’m sure the havahart is easy-peasy for them. I have heard of using Kraft caramel(nuke it till it’s soft enough to mold it over the bait holder thingy) but what I have had the best luck with is raw bacon.

ucme's avatar

Baseball bat & catcher’s mitt?

LuckyGuy's avatar

After I set the traps I move the bait pedal down a little so it’s set like a hair trigger. I use sunflower seeds because they can be shoved into the ends and top of the bait pedal. They are more enticing, and afford greater mechanical advantage than a smear of peanut butter. The critter has to work at it to pull them free thus ensuring a successful snap.
Feel free discard any traps that get messy.

My anal retentive neighbor actually drills a hole through feed corn kernels and wires them to the bait pedal. Clearly he has a lot of patience.

gailcalled's avatar

This morning both glue traps (which I am going to throw away due to cruelty factor) and Havahart were empty…several droppings around however.

So I will move on to the Victors.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Don’t forget to air out the new traps and marinate them in bird food for a day. You’ll be glad you did.
When you set them out, make sure to vary the floor placement. Put some parallel to the wall and others perpendicular. In my barn I even have one screwed vertically to the one of the posts.
Give yourself 2 days to get psychologically ready and then go at them vigorously – you want to get them all in as short a time as possible so they don’t have time to reproduce.

Good luck.

gailcalled's avatar

Update. I did get one guy in the glue trap that I left in the car overnight. I found disposing of the whole thing very distressing.

Better dead, I guess, than half-dead.

@LuckyGuy: I no longer keep birdseed around because that is what caused the mice to invade my car in the first place…food, warmth and shelter all in one spot (under the hood).

Peanut butter is alluring enough.

Should I sent MIlo off for reprogramming? He used to be vigilant but is seems to be complaisant these days. Unless the mouse walks over his tail, he is oblivious.

Ron_C's avatar

I have had a terrible time in my office. I was finding mouse crap on my desk, everyday. At first I tried the “no touch” traps but they didn’t’’ work well and the mice actually ate the peanut butter from the trap. Then I got the Victor traps and they work but dig into the mouse and make a real mess. I started putting paper under the trap, now I just throw the whole thing away I really hate mice.

Adagio's avatar

I find these mousetraps highly effective and set them using peanut butter. Super easy to set and dispose of mice afterwards.

augustlan's avatar

Glue traps were unbearable for me, so I switched to the snapping ones (with peanut butter.) Much more effective at killing them, but even so, a mouse or two got caught but not quite killed. It’s heartbreaking. If it’s a big problem, maybe you should hire an exterminator to deal with killing and disposing of them.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I have used peanut butter but still prefer the oiled sunflower seeds or mixed bird food for 4 reasons:
PB attracts grease eating ants. Bird food does not and has already proven to be quite an attractant to mice.
PB corrodes the metal bait pedal and is difficult to clean off.
PB dries out and must be replaced. Seeds remain delicious for a long time.
When a PB baited trap goes off PB ends up on the walls or floor and must be cleaned up. Seeds can be swept up easily by hand.

Remember don’t just put out one trap. Put out many. Ideally you get them all the first night – before they have a chance to multiply and regroup. You need to do the job swiftly and decisively. This is War.

zensky's avatar

Methinks Milo needs a little attitude adjustment. Perhaps a week sans tuna and fois gras will inspire him.

gailcalled's avatar

@zensky: Are you volunteering? Get your gauntlets out of cold storage.

gailcalled's avatar

Both the second glue trap and the havahart were empty this morning, and there were no droppings. Perhaps I scored a hole-in-one in the Myomorpha arena.

I have decided to toss the unused glue trap and to stick to the springing whoppers in future. Better dead than almost dead, I think.

rooeytoo's avatar

Better a quick death than starving and straining slowly to death in the glue ones! Let’s just hope the spring traps get them in the neck and not the leg!

CWOTUS's avatar

I use the green poison, myself, but I have to be careful with placement to make sure that it’s not in a place – or likely to end up in a place if it’s strewn around – where Willow can get at it. I think I would probably not use that if I had a cat to worry about; cats can get into most of the same places that the mouse could.

gailcalled's avatar

Update: After two weeks. I found another little mouse in the Havahart this morning. He is alive but looks shell-shocked; I am about to take him far, far away and release him in a area where, perhaps, he will live long and prosper…(just not in my backyard.)

rooeytoo's avatar

I think the humane thing to do is to dispatch him quickly. To turn him loose while wounded and dazed sounds like a slow and painful death to me.

gailcalled's avatar

Apparently he was not wounded and had enough peanut butter in him to feel terrific. When I released him, he scampered away into the woods.

But I won’t use the glue traps ever again.

rooeytoo's avatar

That’s good news! I hate when they move in and I have to do something to get rid of them. They are so cute!

Adagio's avatar

I once had a neighbour, an elderly, very animal-sympathetic woman, she caught mice in a trap that did not kill them. One day I saw her adult son walking down the road, he said he was going to let one of these mice out in the bush that surrounds where I live, he held up a brown paper bag and said, “Mum’s even packed him lunch.” I love recalling that incident from time to time.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Adagio – I love that story! Thanks for sharing.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@gailcalled Are you aware that mice have been known to return from distances as great as 1900 ft? You can find the studies. My neighbor used to relocate mice out in the park nearby. He kept a trap on the third floor of his house and it would be occupied every few days. He began to suspect it was the same mouse so he marked its fur with a strip of nail polish. Yes indeed. The mouse was coming back 1500 ft – in one day! He named it “Boomer” – short for boomerang. After catching it 5–6 times he let it loose 5 miles away and it never came back.
I relocate all the mice I catch – to a higher plane. Cats in heaven gotta’ eat too.

gailcalled's avatar

@LuckyGuy: I am. That is why we consider the minimum to be 5 miles.

I have heard the stories about the nail polish but wondered whether they were apocryphal.

MY bro-in-law takes the woodchucks he catches (nothing like an angry woodchuck in its Havahart in the back of your SUV for a jolly car trip) ten miles and over the NYS line into MA.

I caught a mouse in a trap when my daughter was visiting last year. I noticed that she slipped a gingerale bottle cap filled with water into the trap for himself.

LuckyGuy's avatar

That was very nice of you to let Mickey go. – Now someone else will have to deal with the problem. ~ :-)
Are you aware that in NYS it is illegal to trap and simply relocate an animal? I just did a quick search and found this for Indiana:

“If the animal is to be relocated, you must have the permission of the landowner or property manager, (including federal, state and county properties such as parks, forests, etc.) to release the wild animal on their property.

It is suggested that you take the animal at least 10 miles away, but you must stay within your county limits when releasing wildlife. You can check the website for the IN DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife for additional information.

If you release the animal back onto your own property, be sure that you have fixed all of the animal’s entrances to your buildings so that you do not immediately repeat the problem.”

I’m guessing NY rules are similar but I just haven’t been able to wade through the site
Note: You do not need State DEC permission to relocate mice to heaven
Angel Cats gotta’ eat too.

CWOTUS's avatar

GA for the research on that, @LuckyGuy.

I’m getting a picture of a game warden at a roadblock stepping up to @gailcalled‘s car with his (gloved) hand out, and his other hand on the butt of his pistol as he snarlingly demands, “Papers for the mouse!”

Birther game wardens. Gotta love it.

gailcalled's avatar

@CWOTUS: In order to have road blocks around here, you need roads. After the last really heavy rains, most of our dirt roads have disappeared.

The legal issues of relocating wild life in both NY and MA have brought up, to my horror, dozens of hits. I may have to to go law school to decipher them.

It is an untapped area of knowledge that I may not yet be ready for.

In MA. for example, you can trap a small animal and then kill it, legally, but not relocate it. Any spot you choose will belong to someone.

rooeytoo's avatar

And I bet they would probably fine you and put you in jail. You could murder your spouse in a fit of passion and get into less trouble. What a crazy world (I keep saying that and thinking it even more!)

CWOTUS's avatar

Maybe the solution is to make a small raft, @gailcalled, and set the thing adrift on the raft on a “great pond”. If you find a lake or a pond of a certain size in Massachusetts (especially one with a public beach or boat ramp), then no one will own past the waterline. That is, the water is “free public surface”. Maroon the rodent on its raft (preferably with a nice offshore breeze), and where it lands after that (if it does land) is not your affair any more.

LuckyGuy's avatar

And that is why I prefer Victor snap traps. It’s over in 0.012 seconds.
(Permanently!)

gailcalled's avatar

@CWOTUS?: Walden Pond comes to mind. Thoreau was a proponent of civil disobedience, wasn’t he?

If I provide food and a beverage for the mouse on its raft, then everyone is happy.

augustlan's avatar

Picturing this.

CWOTUS's avatar

Alternatively, you could dress up in an appropriate costume, festoon the rodents with suitably small chains (escape-proof), and drag them into a below-grade room (a dungeon, in other words) and torture them until they recant their rodent-ness.

A Mousequisition, then. Maybe there’s already a Disney movie with this theme.

Buttonstc's avatar

@gailcalled

I’m just curious about how you plan to keep Milo’s paws (and/or nose) out of the mouse traps?
Presumably he’s as curious as most normal cats.

rooeytoo's avatar

Awwwww @augustlan that is sooooooo cute.

LuckyGuy's avatar

In the news today there is an article about mice in Yosemite National Park and how 1700 people might have been exposed to the rodent-borne disease. Two deaths so far but the disease has a 6 week incubation period with flu like symptoms. Exposed campers are being notified.

“Those four people contracted hantavirus pulmonary syndrome after spending time in one of the 91 “Signature Tent Cabins” at Curry Village around the same time in June. The illness is spread by contact with rodent feces, urine and saliva, or by inhaling exposed airborne particles.”

Yikes! I wonder if any of the mice or their ancestors had been terrestrially relocated by kind neighbors who “have a heart”.

gailcalled's avatar

@LuckyGuy: I heard that story also on NPR.

Anyway, you are beating a dead horse (Is that the metaphor I am looking for?). However, most of my county is uninhabited and either second growth woods or farm land, with a small proportion lawns that get mowed.

So the odds are against us. Too bad that mice don’t eat ticks. That would be an elegant solution.

At this time of year there are huge bales of hay on the open fields…rather like a five-star rodent hotel.

gailcalled's avatar

Update: No signs of mice either in car or in kitchen for several days.

gailcalled's avatar

Just had the car in for a 30,000 mile servicing at Subaru. They found an abandoned nest in the donut spare-tire holder, but no mice.

The service manager suggested using peppermint oil on small rags.

Place in glove compartment box;
Place in spare-tire compartment’
Raise the hood, turn on ignition, turn on A/C and then drop some droplets of the oil in the ducts.

CWOTUS's avatar

Please ask your service manager how he feels about Wint-o-green lifesavers instead. I’m a lot more partial to those than I am to peppermint, and if the mice are going to avoid those things, then it’s a win-win for me.

gailcalled's avatar

It has to be the essential oil…perhaps there is one of pressed Winto-greem lifesavers, also.

His other suggestion, which I cannot ethically pass on, is to stuff Bounce dryer sheers everywhere. That would asphyxiate the humans in the car, including me, the driver.

LIttle know facts;

“Peppermint ( is a hybrid mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint. The plant, indigenous to Europe, is now widespread in cultivation throughout all regions of the world.”

“Peppermint oil has a high concentration of natural pesticides, mainly menthone.” Source

rooeytoo's avatar

@gailcalled – why are bounce dryer sheets unethical? I can’t find them in Australia and I miss them.

gailcalled's avatar

The fake pertumey smell makes me feel ill

It’s a product, to me, that serves no purpose other than to add unnecessary chemicals into my life. Ingredients

Scent ingredients in Bounce

For similar reasons I won’t use air fresheners or Febreze.

rooeytoo's avatar

ahhhhhh, I see. The water here is so hard I use fabric softener but I don’t like to use it on everything and it makes the dispenser thing in the washing machine so disgusting. The dryer sheet seems to be a better choice. I worry about chemicals but in this case, not as much as you.

gailcalled's avatar

@rooeytoo: See my PM.

I have hard water, too. There is a ring of abraided and pitted enamel in my bathtubs and toilets due to hardness of water. I throw some vinegar down when I think of it.

I am a cancer survivor and post chemo and radiation, which have compromised my immune system. it’s bad enough I have to breathe the air around here.

gailcalled's avatar

Follow-up: Thinking that if one cotton ball saturated in peppermint oil and placed inside my car would be a good mouse deterrent, I then thought, “Why not twenty?”

I placed them in the glove compartment, the side compartments, the sunglass and CD holder compartments, the spare tire compartment, the other nooks and crannies in the way-back, and under the hood near the AC vents. I had barely enough time before I asphyxiated myself to remove most of them.

A little goes a long way.

Peppermint oil is from the health food store and is apparently good also for rubbing on forehead to ward off a migraine.

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