Mice Are Not Nice

July 14, 2011

Food Storage

You may have guessed from my previous posts that I’m not really the “shrinking violet” type.  I’m not prone to standing up on chairs and shrieking “Eek!” at the sight of a mouse.  But I am prone to diligently eradicating them.

We live in an old farmhouse built in stages since 1900.  As is often the case with old buildings, it is nowhere close to airtight.  As a result, keeping mice out is quite a monumental task.

The obvious solution is a cat, right?  Well, we have 2 and they do catch a lot of mice and bring them to the back porch to eat and show off their prizes.  Unfortunately, I have a cat allergy and some family members are prone to asthma, so we can’t let them in the house.  If the mice can make it within the foundation, they are pretty much “home free.”

We’ve tried a variety of traps with varied success.  We must have very hearty mice because sometimes they walk away with the traps and we never find them.

So, What’s The Big Deal?

Why do I make a big deal about a tiny rodent or two?  For several reasons:

  1. They can decimate your food storage.  You’d be surprised what they can (and will!) chew into.
  2. They are extremely messy.  For such tiny animals, they sure do leave a lot of droppings.
  3. They can spread disease.  (Included in this list are Salmonella, Rickettsial pox, Meningitis, Leptospirosis, tapeworms, ringworm, Tularemia, and Hantavirus).
  4. They are destructive to more than just food.
  5. They keep me up at night.  I am a light sleeper and I hear them in the walls among other places.
  6. They no longer pretend to be scared of us- they walk, not run across the kitchen.  Talk about adding insult to injury!
  7. They are telling their friends about our place- I just know it!

Consider This Info

From a Pest Education course at Michigan State University.  (It’s a very helpful document, by the way).

In six months, one pair of mice can eat about 4 pounds of food and deposit about 18,000 droppings. The amount of food contaminated by the mice is estimated to be about 10 times greater than the amount eaten.
Electrical wiring gnawed by rodents has started many fires. Many fire-related incidents listed as “cause unknown” are probably rodent related. House mice frequently take up residence in electrical appliances and end up chewing into the power supply.

We have been pretty good about mylar sealing bulk foods but our downfall has been the open packages of food we are consuming.  We’ve put all the cereal in plastic pour spout things.  Ditto on our dehydrated fruits and veggies.  But the half eaten package of crackers?  We’ve been lazy and just twisted the sleeve closed and tucked the cardboard box tops together, setting it back on the pantry shelf.

Recently, I had to go through the pantry and throw away A LOT of food (or rather, feed it to chickens or worms).  It was bad enough to find peanuts with one bite out of each, scattered everywhere, but it’s war when it eats into the brand new jumbo package of chocolate chips from Sam’s!

Now I am doing what I should have all along- put EVERYthing into sturdy plastic containers, set and check traps daily, and make certain no stray crumbs are still under the table after meals.

Do you have a particularly good way of deterring mice?  A “better mouse trap”?  Please share it in the comments section.

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37 Comments on “Mice Are Not Nice”

  1. Jarhead Survivor Says:

    I’ve got a story about a rat. About ten years ago I was rooming with my brother in my house after a rather nasty divorce with my exwife. Anyway, a couple of rats made their way in and they took to chewing their way under the floor in the house. I put out traps, poison, etc, all to no avail. These things would drive me absolutely batshit with their chewing and running back and forth.

    One night around 2 am it was particularly bad. One of them was underneath the floor in my closet and making all kinds of noise. I couldn’t take it any more and I jumped up and grabbed a hockey stick that was up against the wall (I play hockey) and started screaming and swearing and banging on the floor. The noise stopped for a couple of seconds then started back up again and I screamed and banged on the floor again. This time I got my .44 Dirty Harry Smith and Wesson out of the closet and was aiming it at the floor when my brother barged into the room trying to figure out what was going on.

    There I was, naked, banging on the floor with a hockey stick and aiming my .44 at the spot where I figured the rat was getting ready to take the shot.

    He talked me down and I did manage to get the rats within the next couple of days.

    And let it be known that I’m a very easy-going laid back guy not prone to this kind of crazy behavior!

    -Jarhead Survivor


    • Joe Says:

      I can definitely sympathize with you on this one, Jarhead. When they are robbing you of sleep, it’s hard not to take it personally.


    • Sunflower Says:

      I can understand the craziness jarhead. After making the 1/4 trip to the well house one more hard winter. I was inside and surrounded by a few pack rats (at head level once hitting the ground). When it came time to climb the ladder back out through the roof opening, one rat would not move from behind the step I wished to grip to start my climb. I finally cleared the rat. Once I was out, I reached down and grabbed the asshole rat by the tail.

      I was pissed, tired and cold. Longstory short, the tail fell out. There I was with tail in hand, the wind was blowing. I felt stupid but somewhat satisfied.


  2. Jarhead Survivor Says:

    Here’s a – sort of – related question.

    When using mylar to hold my flour, beans, rice, whatever, do I need to put them in a foodgrade bucket as well or is it fine to put the bag in a clean container like a new regular non-food grade bucket you can buy at Home Depot?


    • Laura Says:

      That is an excellent question and one I’ve done a good bit of research on. I have composed a couple of posts on that topic exactly but we have weeks-worth of posts queued up and I’m not sure when they will “publish.”

      From what I’ve found, since the mylar is food-grade and impermeable to air, moisture, etc., it is fine to store the bags inside a regular bucket. Having a food grade bucket would only matter if you were planning to let the let the contents of the bags come in contact with the bucket once you open them. We don’t do that.

      Rather than using 5 gallon liners, I use the gallon size, pack 3-4 to a bucket along with salt and spices, and then close it up. Then when I open it, I don’t “start the clock” on 5 gallons-worth of grain at once.

      Essentially, having food grade buckets gives you more options but is not required in every circumstance.


  3. Gaye Says:

    Oh my gosh – this one hits home. We have field mice that make their way indoors to munch on my food. They especially like chocolate – go figure. I now store everything in hard plastic containers but even then, the mice will sometimes chew right through the container. Another item favored by the mice is dry dog food so I am especially careful not to leave any sitting in a bowl on the floor while we are gone.

    As much as I hate using toxic chemicals, the only thing that keeps the mice away is d-con rat poison. I put it under the sink at their point of entry, well hidden from my little dog and any children that might be visiting.


    • Laura Says:

      Gaye, I have resisted using poisons for 2 reasons. The first is what you mentioned- concern that a child or cat or chicken may find it and eat it. The second is that I was afraid of where they would die (and the resulting stink!!).

      Since our beefy mice can actually carry a trap away instead of dying, I’ve finally given in. I found a kind made by Tom Kat that has a bait station inside a plastic thing that nothing but a mouse could get at. We’ll see how that goes.

      I’m so disgusted with them! Even though we use our vacuum everyday, they have actually made a nest inside of it! And forget about ever using the tube attachment again- it’s clogged somewhere in the middle with their stolen stuff. Uggh!

      Some friends told us about an electrocution-type trap with a safety mechanism to keep you from shocking yourself when you set and empty it. I’ll have to look into that one also.


    • Joe Says:

      You know the old saying “Build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door”?

      Well, we’ve found that the older style mousetraps, the ones similar to the picture atop this post, seem to work best. The other pincher style with the no-touch release seem to loose their sensitivity after a while and the mice can steal the bait without getting caught. Or perhaps they are just too small and are not triggering the trap.



  4. Laura Says:

    I forgot to mention in the post-

    We have discovered that it really is important to check the traps at least once a day. If you forget and are alerted to do so by smell, you may as well throw the whole trap away with the mouse. The stink lingers on the trap and you will never catch another mouse with it.


  5. Arsenius the Hermit Says:

    Well, I have a problem with flying squirrels, and I got rid of them by buying a three pack of electronic pest repellers at Home Depot. I never heard the things but the squirrels cleared out and I didn’t have to kill them. Maybe it would work with mice.


    • Laura Says:


      I looked at those electronic things today and gave thought to getting some. The only reason I hesitated is because I remember that when I was young, I could actually hear some of them and they hurt my ears/gave me a headache even though the grown-ups said they couldn’t hear them at all. I’m pretty sure my hearing has deteriorated enough now that it wouldn’t be a problem for me, but they may bother our small children. Then again, they’ve probably come a long way in 30 + years. I may have to give them a try. If it is bothers the chickens so they don’t get on the porch anymore, all the better!!

      Back in college, I had a flying squirrel take up residence with me in my apt during a cold winter. It scared the stuffing out of me leaping from thing to thing in my room at night- I thought it was a very bold rat. I ended up catching it but didn’t want to release it close by for concern it would come right back in. I put the live trap in the car to take elsewhere and it got loose. Got up under the dashboard into wiring. I finally left the car parked under a tree with the doors open and it relocated. I like to watch them at night- but not in my bedroom.


    • Joe Says:

      For some reason I haven’t seen our outdoor cats with a mouse in while now. They used to catch them quite frequently. Maybe we’re feeding them too much. On the other hand, one came home with a rabbit the other day. Pretty impressive score for that little cat.


  6. Laura Says:

    I wanted to report back about the ultrasonic things. I bought a 3-pack of Black & Decker “pest repellers” and the mice have been just as present and active (maybe more so) than before.

    Good news, though- our small children have been at Grandma’s this week so we felt we could put out the old timey, finger-breaker kind and hope for better results. I think we’ve caught 8 today so far!!

    Now, I just hope we are killing them off at a faster rate than they are multiplying!


  7. Beck Says:

    My sister had a problem with mice/rats in her basement. She got some of those sticky flat boards. She caught 5 baby snakes in her basement. Boy, was she surprised! Made her mice problem not so bad. I wonder where the mother is?


    • Joe Says:

      Hahaha! Yeah, mice don’t seem quite so bad after that.

      Reminds me of the time when I was a kid. I put a minnow trap in a stream to catch some bait fish. I expectantly checked the trap the next morning only to find 3 dead snakes in it. They had drown. Startled me.


  8. Angel Says:

    My husband builds a mousetrap out of a 5 gallon (or other size) bucket and an empty bottle with lid (water, asprin, anything works). Drill a small hole about 1 inch from the top rim of the bucket, then another one on the opposite side. Drill a hole in the lid and the bottom of the bottle (in the center), run a string through the bottle and suspend it taughtly (like a tightrope) between the holes in the bucket, tie knots to keep the string tight. the bottle should “log roll” easily. Now, spread a little peanut butter on the bottle and add a few inches of water to the bottom of the bucket. Place a small plank of wood from the floor to the rim of the bucket and presto! the best mousetrap ever!


    • Laura Says:

      Wow! Very clever. Do you think you could send a photo of one to the address? I can’t quite picture it in my mind. I’m getting desperate to get the last wily mice. We’ve significantly reduced the population, but I can still hear them between the levels of the house and under a kitchen cabinet (that has no food in it!!). They have chewed the labels off of canned food to make nests. Grrrrr…

      Thanks for your comment.


    • beatle Says:

      Add a few drops of no scented soap liquid to make the water “wetter”… I will try this also


  9. Cassie Says:

    My father shared an old mice deterrent with me a few weeks ago. After looking into it, it’s pretty popular. Take some cottonballs and sprinkle some peppermint oil on them. Scatter the cottonballs any where you have seen mice or think they might be coming in/out. Something about the peppermint keeps them from coming around!


    • Laura Says:

      Thanks for mentioning that. Since I wrote this, I have come across that very suggestion. I should have returned to this to mention it.

      No mice and a minty-fresh pantry!


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  14. Jeanie B Says:

    Wow I almost couldnt even read this as I am phobic of mice and dont mention rats omg panic attack. I live by open fields and a canal so we get them ugh. I have tried everything but finally found something that really seams to work. Ok this is gonna sound crazy but hear me out take regular old fashioned moth balls (yes they smell icky) they have to be the plain kind not the perfumed kind. anyhow put them behind dressers, under couches, in sheds in with your food storage containers. One word of warning they are harmful if babies or children eat them, but they wont hurt your dogs, cats or most farm animals. Ok back to why your doing this. It seems that mice and rats are allergic to them like crazy and the min they smell them they hightail it out of their. just replace every few months and you can get them cheap even at the dollar tree. now be smarter than i was, I started in my sheds and worked my way to the house and basement well guess where they all wound up before i got it all done yep my house… I slept in my car for 3 days with a box of moth balls, i kid you not… but I am happy to say no more mouse destruction and no mouse droppings to be found…..


    • Devon Says:

      Poision works a lot better. Keep your pets away from it though. Within days of use you should see dead rats/mice everywhere.


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  16. Devon Says:

    Mouse traps do not work well. You can get some mice but they breed too damn fast. Buy either rat posion pellets or bars from the nearest store. We get a type of pellets. Try around with different types. I have found that some types of poision work great. Traps will never get rid of rats. KEEP EVERYTHING AWAY FROM RAT POISION.


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