/ Home & Energy

There’s a mouse in my kitchen! What would you do?

An empty mousetrap outside a mouse hole with tiny footprints leading away

With the recent drop in temperatures, I’ve been warming up my house for the ensuing winter months. But it seems I’ve inadvertently created a nice cosy space for some uninvited guests…

Last week I saw a mouse dart out from behind the fridge and across the kitchen floor, quick as a pinball. My heart sank.

I’ve had to deal with rodents in most houses I’ve lived in, but I thought I’d solved the problem last year. I bought an ultrasonic deterrent that emits high-frequency sound waves heard by rodents, but not humans.

I try to live by the principle of no harm to living things. Finding a device that you simply have to plug in seemed like the solution after years of bloody battles with Micky and friends.

But, alas, it appears that after several months, the mice adjust to the sound. So, it’s back to the old dilemma: how to get rid of them in an effective yet not horrendously cruel way? I’m currently approaching the kitchen with loud stomps to make sure any crumb-seeking mice have fled before I enter. But it’s not a particularly relaxing – or hygienic – way to live.

Of mice and men… an uneasy relationship

When living in a house-share a few years ago, my friends resorted to the dreaded super-sticky mats, after poison failed to get rid of our furry little housemates. I used to walk into the kitchen to find the poor things quivering with sheer terror on the mats. There they would remain until someone with a stronger stomach killed them. Never again will I go down that route.

Many people swear by traditional spring-loaded mouse traps – with peanut butter overtaking cheese as the bait du jour. And it’s true that they’re the quickest – and thus potentially most ethical – device. But my brother’s tale of finding a half-dismembered mouse hopping helplessly around his flat with a trap on its back isn’t really an endorsement for this method either.

Poison seems ineffective. Humane, live-catch traps are something of a pain (mice have a homing instinct, so you have to release them miles away). So what’s the solution?

Is there such a thing as a mouse-free life?

For now, I’m going to buy another ultrasonic repeller, in the hope that it will work at a frequency the mice haven’t yet adjusted to. And I’ll attempt to keep the house scrupulously clean – ‘a single crumb can keep a mouse going for days,’ a pest-control professional once told me (which means the average toaster provides a feast).

But this all-too-familiar dilemma is making me think that, while a new-build apartment isn’t as romantic as the Victorian house I currently live in, perhaps a lack of cracks is the only real solution to a pest-free life? It’s either that or convince my landlord to let me get a cat. But do I really have to go to these extremes to make my house rodent-free?

How do you remove mice or rats from your home?

I kill them with traps or poison (60%, 1,033 Votes)

I don't have any mice or rats in my home (19%, 322 Votes)

I use humane traps and set them free (13%, 221 Votes)

I have a cat (9%, 160 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,738

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My parents have recently had the same problem. when they mentioned it to a neighbour, turns out he had recently had mice but they seemed to have gone, so he lent my parents his mouse traps. After catching/killing 4-5 mice. My parents house now seems to be free, although they’ve had to return the mouse traps as the neighbour now has more …

In the meantime I lent my parents 2 ultrasonic pest scarers which they have plugged in. Not sure how good they are, they’re supposed to scare off mouse. spiders and other pests, although going by the cobwebs around them I’m not sure how effective they are.

Oh, I should add that the neighbour who lives between my parents and the other neighbour who had mice has extensive decking in their back garden. I think my parents did warn them that it would probably attract rats/mice as they love the stuff. But ho hum.

That odourless glue works brilliantly (on a bit of wood), but you have a very unpleasant task of disposing of the bodies. A bloke in Sicily took the wood+mouse outside, poured petrol on it and set light to it. The petrol dissolved the glue,and the flaming mouse ran back into his house for cover, burning it down.

I’ve heard this story before – I believe it is one of these urban legends which has no basis in fact.

When my daughters were young I used live traps to avoid upsetting them. After proving that mice do indeed have a homing instinct and, apparently, catching the same one day after day I eventually resorted to taking them on a long drive. On one occasion the released muse took off, only to return seconds later pursued by a huge cat. Both swerved (Tom and Jerry like) to avoid crashing into my foot. It occurred to me that an old-fashioned mouse-trap might actually be less stressful for the mouse.

This is such a common problem – especially in cities such as London. We’ve had some unwelcome guests for a little while now. We’ve tried traps, various brands of poison and the sonic alarm to no avail.

Apparently they don’t like mint so you could try washing the floor with a minty solution – I have no idea if this actually works though. We haven’t given it a go as yet.

I’ve come to accept that we’ll continue to have mice until the landlord blocks all the holes properly (unlikely in an old property). The main thing is to ensure my food remains covered and stored in sealed containers to prevent the mice nibbling it.

If anyone has any miracle cures I’d really appreciate it!

Jacqueline Pye says:
26 November 2012

Keep a long tube (e.g. plastic pipe or inner cardboard tube from wrapping paper), diameter around 3-4cm handy. Block one end with scrunched newspaper. When a mouse appears, persuade it into a corner and push the open end of the tube close to it. Almost always it will run into the tube. Then upend the tube and deliver the mouse as far away as possible! Failing that, we like the cruelty-free traps that work by tipping then closing when the mouse enters to nab the chocolate.

Released mice will return, though I agree that the tube works really well for catching mice. The mice tend to run along the skirting, so just placing some tubes along the skirting in strategic runs usually works.

When I was a teenager I made a humane mousetrap from bits and pieces including a gallon can and a selection of items from my Meccano set. I put it in my father’s garden shed, which had a resident mouse. The following morning I was excited to find it had been activated, but the mouse had gnawed a neat hole in the wooden door and escaped. I repaired the trap but never caught another mouse and eventually recovered my Meccano for the next project.

I have never had a mouse in the house, though I have lost count of the number of birds that have flown in when I have left the back door open in summer.

The only way to be sure of having no mice is to get a cat. We live in a garden flat and haven’t had any mice since having our trusty moggie. When we’ve had mice we did try everything and nothing really worked, apart from the inhumane mouse traps I’m sad to say. My other half used to put grapes on the traps and the mice went crazy for them…I refused to have anything to do with this I hasten to add.

We have two cats. They bring mice in to play with them in the house. Unfortunately they often let them escape and so we need another solution!

I’m afraid I have to agree with Jim, cats don’t remove mice, they add mice. We have two cats who bring mice in a few times each year. We know a mouse is in when the cats start watching the back of a piece of furniture. Out come two plastic humane traps, baited with peanut butter and placed on the skirting board, we usually have a mouse in one the next morning.

Peter Hulse says:
1 December 2012

Of course, you don’t have any birds either….

How does a cat get a mouse hiding under a fridge?

Poor little mice. We used to have a big mice problem and use a number of humane traps – they always used to make it back into the house. Or at least, it felt like it was the same mice (we used to take them quite a long way away to set them free).

We used the traditional mouse traps, but I think they’re a bit horrid. Once the trap went missing and days later we heard rattling in the walls… we eventually caught a mouse with the trap slapped shut on its leg (which was broken). We had to put it out of its misery. Feel guilty now.

Keep reminding yourself that mice are vermin that cause damage, chew electric cables, cover things in urine and faeces, carry disease, and they are definitely not cute little things at all. 🙂

I like the picture in Anna’s introduction too.

Yes there’s no point in being soft hearted. They can cause a lot of damge, even fires, by chewing cables and as wavechange says are incontinent and poo over everything. Cat’s aren’t always the best solution, the daft item I had used to bring live mice into the house and then let them escape, effectively making the problem worse. My girlfriend’s cat brings her live mice as presents; usually at three in the morning.

Poison can be slow and painful too. They put poison down at a place I used to work and one mouse died lying on a hot water pipe. You can’t imagine how vile the smell was and the typing pool (remember them?) became uninhabitable. They had to knock a wall down to get to it.

I find the old fashioned traps are the best remedy and a raisin by far and away the best bait.

Once the weather starts to turn cold mice will come into the warmer houses or outbuildings.
A mixture of safely placed poison , especially if you have access to under the floorboards, and breakback mouse traps is best. The mouse traps will a least tell you if you have a problem , I use pieces of chocolate cereal bars as bait.
I agree with Wavechange , they are vermin though not as bad as rats !

I haven’t seen that mouse glue in years, I thought they weren’t selling it any more. Anyway, I use the old fashioned mouse traps. I don’t use poison as the mouse would probably did under the floorboards or somewhere making an awful smell. Better to get the job done straight away.

As for humane traps…There’s no point in catching the virmins, then letting them out somewhere else, so they can get into someone else’s house. The more mice that are freed, they will breed and increase the mice population even more. The more mice killed off the better. – To those of you who will disagree, mice are virmins, not cute little fluffy things to be pampered.

Something that’s been very effective is to install quadrant mouldings (actually known as “mouse-beater” in the joinery trade) all around the skirting boards in our old Edinburgh tenement flat. Plus, I changed the skirting board on the wall at the back of the cooker (from under which I had seen a mouse come out), ie upgraded it from the old c3 inch tall one to a slightly thicker one c5 inch tall, after plugging the hole in the wall where the mouse could come in with wire wool/crumpled aluminium foil. Then I put a piece of quadrant down, and put aluminium foil in the space in the floor around the gas pipe.

I’ve also got one of these ulrasonic deterrents in one of the rooms. Has Which? ever reviewed these? Time to do it if not?

Cats bring mice into the house (especially in the country) – we have an Ultrasonic Pest Repeller and yes I agree if Which hasn’t reviewed them then they should, as we have two in a large country house with many a mouse entrance. We now have no mice, as they really don’t like to pay us a visit. Like us, the cat is oblivious to the sound, which mice don’t like.

Mrs Green says:
30 November 2012

I find that chocolate digestive biscuits are very effective for luring mice into traps. They don’t seem interested in cheese.

Peanut butter is like caviar or truffle to a mouse!

Allan says:
30 November 2012

Humane release is a mistake. Mice start breeding (enthusiastically) at the age of six weeks, even before it is possible to tell what sex they are!. So if you humanely release a pregnant female and she has eight babies, they will start breeding at six weeks, perhaps each having eight babies. Then these babies will start breeding at six weeks… See where I’m going with this?
Kill them with traps and reduce the size of the problem.

Juliet says:
30 November 2012

You would think that owning three cats mice and shrews wouldn’t be problem. Think again! Our three monsters delight in bringing home their prey, letting them loose and then sitting back to watch us trying to catch the rodents, which often entails a lot of furniture moving and running round like maniacs. (Us not the cats) One of them especially enjoys bringing us a “present” in the middle of the night, depositing in the shower cubicle and then chasing it until we are woken by the scuffling and squeaking. I now keep various plastic plant pots and pieces of card placed strategically round the house, so that if we do manage to save one we can take it outside to a safe area in the hope it will find freedom.
In the event that we fail to catch one I do sometimes resort to the old fashioned trap with chocolate as bait. Not nice but it is effective unless one of the moggies hasn’t decided to snack just leaving the tail and offal on the carpet. Yuk!

Silver Saint says:
30 November 2012

Any success in catching or killing mice only makes room for newcomers. Nearly all mice enter homes in the kitchen. That is where the points of entry are and where food is available. The points of entry are typically holes in the floor and wall left by kitchen fitters when installing plumbing and electrical supplies. The remedy is to cover/fill the holes which are usually hidden from view under kitchen units. Expanding foam for big holes and wire wool for smaller ones.

Briar says:
30 November 2012

We had a problem with mice and rates a few years ago. Our 21 year old cat was not interested. So we persuaded the neighbours to get a cat. They got 2!. They dealt with the problem within weeks (especially one called Milo (Milosovic!?)). And they take their trophies next door not to us. Brilliant solution!!

Why not try an electronic killer ? We have a few Pest Stop Electronic Rat Killer traps dotted around our lofts & they have been the most effective so far. They are battery operated & work by building up a charge & when the mouse/rat steps onto the second plate he is electrocuted immediately. I also do not like the idea of something being half trapped & as already been mentioned, to release them would probably mean they will return. Poison is also out as they die a horrible death & you quite often don’t know where they have died until the smell hits you plus you will have to consider where you put it so that no other animal gets hold of it. They also do a mouse killer but unless you know you won’t have rats, it would be better to get the larger rat killer, plus it also gives more punch so the end is even quicker for mice. I found peanut butter works well as the attractant for them to enter the trap. We also had these ultrasonic devices but found them ineffective despite the fact that when plugged in, they send their ultrasonic frequencies throughout the home.

Whack’em with your iPad?

Is that a new app for the iPad and can you use Android tablets?

Android tablets don’t have sufficient weight!

Thanks to a builder’s carelessness in leaving a drain open under our kitchen floor we have had an invasion of rats. Good advice from a pest controller was to avoid leaving water available to them, e g plant saucers, soaking pots and pans. The rat needs to drink three times its own body weight each day (they constantly dribble urine while running around) That, together with a clever device which allows effluent out of the waste pipe but nothing back in by closing a trap, cured the problem.

Alison says:
6 December 2015

Rats dont do that. Mice do.

Bill Linley says:
30 November 2012

Every year we have an ongoing mouse problem in our detached garage (fortunately not in the house). Conventional traps with peanut butter work for me. 7 so far in the last three weeks!

I love the story though of the guy who invented the no moving parts mouse trap – a razor blade with a bit of cheese in front. He then came up with a Mark2 version no cheese – just a ‘hacksaw blade’ on which the mouse self destructed – shaking its head looking for the cheese!!