/ 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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We use a mouse trap just like the one in the photo. However, it is a myth that mice like cheese. Better is a small piece of apple, a halved grape or best of all (100% success rate here) is a small blob of peanut butter.

Unlike Badgers, mice are vermin and must be exterminated humanely and the ultra sensitive traps like the one in the photo is as humane as you can get.

David says:
30 November 2012

I profess to being an animal lover and would never use sticky pads or conventional traps. The latter sadly do cut off noses feet and legs without killing the mouse. We usually manage to persuade our rodents to run into an empty cornflake box and then we set them free some distance from our house.
Some years ago I did a horrible, terrible thing which will haunt me for the rest of my life. I set a humane plastic trap behind a pile of clutter in my verandah and then, unforgivably, forgot about it. Some time later, I don’t know how long, I found the trap and inside was a little mouse sitting with his nose between his paws…dead. This one definitely was cute and fluffy because he was a little fieldmouse. I cried out in anguish and my wife took over from that point.
I’d set the trap with chocolate with some silver paper around it and the silver paper had been shredded into hundreds of tiny fragments as the mouse had tried to prolong his life in that plastic prison. If a mouse can live a long time on a single crumb I hate to think how long it took for that poor creature to die.
To this day,years later, I sometimes cannot go to sleep at night thinking about this with my hands clasped to my face silently crying out in anguish again. I apologise for sharing my burden with other animal lovers.

Out of probably 50 or so mice trapped in the last 10 years, I’ve never one mouse that wasn’t killed instantly (broken back). You just need the traditional trap with the sprung base. They’re difficult to set because they are very sensitive but they work 100%.

Alison says:
6 December 2015

Since this was 3 yrs ago you will most likely never read this but the mouse would have died within hours. So called humane traps have to be checked every 4 hours, as being trapped, send the rodent into a high anxiety stressed state which affects its heart. If the traps arent checked minimally every 4 hours it is highly unlikely any captive would still be alive for much longer than that.

Ernest Parrott says:
30 November 2012

I have a cat but he used to bring live mice into the house as gifts for me and I had to chase around and catch them . They usually ended up being tossed unceremoniousy into woodland opposite my front door. We are now both “past it” – he is 15 and I am 88 and fortunately the mice keep their distance and the cat and have given up the hunt.

Alison says:
30 November 2012

Having a cat is the major problem. My two bring live mice into the house, play with them and then let them go, before losing interest in them. So I cannot recommend having a cat as an effective way of getting rid of mice. I’d need to get rid of the cats first.

Peter Sissons says:
30 November 2012

The answer is to stop them getting into your house in the first place. I have a substantial area of suspended floor ventilated by air bricks, The problem is that, if you can get a pencil through a hole, then a mouse can get through it. In the cold weather they used to come inside – but no more. If this is the way your mice are getting in, there is a very good product which is easy to fit – http://www.mousemesh.co.uk/
And it works!

Jim Goodwin says:
30 November 2012

When we had cats and a cat flap mice were a constant problem. Both cats would bring in live mice on a regular basis. We found nests in the most strange places. But now with neither cats or a cat flap we have been mouse free for years.

Dalila says:
30 November 2012

I live on a farm so we do only occasionally get a mouse in the house in winter, we have the odd family in the fields and stables but not the house. I have found cats to be useless, as they play with the mouse and usually it escapes but my Jack Russell is a demon if it smells one, no way is it going to live. I hate killing anything and its not the mouse’s fault we have built a house in its field so we have to live with it sometimes, besides, don’t they say, no matter where you live you are never more than 6 ‘ from a rat, now personally I prefer mice than rats and rats generally chase away mice, so if you have mice, generally you wont have a rat problem, so be thankful for that. Now what I do is put food down for the mouse over several days so it only goes where the food is rather than all over your kitchen units, when it is used to the food, (they don’t really like cheese, much sooner have bacon, peanut butter, cake, fruit, chicken, dog/cat food, butter etc) I move the food nearer and nearer to the door and then it finds it way out. Don’t think for one moment it likes being in your house, if it could find its way out it would, once away, its off to its chums. I realise a dog isn’t possible for everyone, but a Jack Russell is by far a much better bet than any cat. If your dog is going to be in on its own all day, then get two, they play and entertain each other and its cruel to have one on its own all day, they get depressed.

When a mouse ran across the coffee table in front of the TV we did nothing but when the kitchen flooded after they’d eaten through the outlet hose of the dishwasher battle commenced. Traps were successful (good yellow & blue Swedish (Habo Plast AB) ones easy to load and empty). But they took a lot of effort to keep up with their success so poison was next with traps alongside to check success. I was guided by 2 bits of advice I had. Firstly, for every mouse you see there are another 10 in the house. Secondly, make sure you set enough traps/bait – one every couple of metres at least wherever there are any droppings.. This avoids a futile search for mouse access points. I would add that not all plastic storage will protect your food, Many containers just become gnawed victims en route so you lose the food and the container! For me success was proved by signs of bait taken, empty traps and dried up, non smelly mouse remains to throw out: (this is what I was told this bait would do) I use blocks of bait (Ironically called TomCat) set in a lidded plastic bait holders that have entrances and exits for the critters to access and leave. Instant success but 2 months later there are signs that they are back so new bait is down. This is not a problem with an all-time cure I think. But at least now I feel I can win!

Colin L says:
30 November 2012

A few years ago, I had mice under the ground floor. A few squirts of WD40 through the floorboard joints and they disappeared. I’ve also used it to stop ants coming in.

Bill Linley says:
30 November 2012

You having a laugh – did it stop them squeeking?????

I used to live in a flat and had ongoing mice problems (and where there is one mouse be sure there are several more). Started with very expensive pest controllers, then tried all the other methods mentioned here – sound repellents, humane traps, mouse traps, poison. Blocked up existing holes with wire wool and expandable foam. Redid the kitchen and concreted the entire floor – and later found out they love running through the gaps in the walls. Short term solutions every time – we had a break for about 18 months and then they found another route in. Mice can chew, and will get where they want too go. Mice wee everywhere they go, and for some reason I break out in a nasty rash when I come into contact with where they’ve been – also not pleasant to know a young child was crawling around where they’ve been. Two methods have worked every time. Electronic rat traps – kill them instantly but are hit and miss in terms of effectiveness (some just seem to avoid them). The glue traps you mentioned – you know immediately one is caught and you then need to kill it yourself straight away. Appreciate the strong feelings about this, but I can’t live with The ‘humane’ argument – you can’t kill an animal humanely, cats will play with them and cause distress, poison kills them very slowly (and who knows painfully), snap traps as described above. I have now moved house, but have had one incident with mice. I still count my blessings, my sister has problems with rats….

Simon says:
30 November 2012

I speak to them nicely and ask them to go away, explaining that I’ll have to catch them if they don’t. They usually leave within 24 hours. (I’m not a “New Age eccentric”!)

Are you trying to emulate Robert Burns, the well-known Scottish poet?


Gavin says:
30 November 2012

Has anyone got a humane solution for moles that works?
The mole(s) in my garden dig-up humane traps or dig under them, or fill them with soil -. But don’t go into them!
They ignore the buzzer devices too.
I have to riddle a couple of gallons of gravel ( and coal and marbles and coins and nails and bits of glass and tin solders and ……) out of the molehills before I can cut the grass as it wrecks the mower blades (the concept of a lawn doesn’t event enter into the picture!)

So if You’re doing mice, can you do moles as well please?

We had an invasion of moles a few years back. They made a mess of my and my neighbours’ lawns. We tried all the usual methods too. In the end we got gas killers from a traditional hardware store (the fork handle type). They look like fireworks but you place them beneath an excavated mole hill, light the touch paper and cover over. The smoke (deadly to moles) fills their underground runs and they die. Any that escape move on to pastures new.

I’m not sure where you get them these days but try a Google search.

An old effective deterrent for moles is a few drops of diesel oil down their holes, the smell is powerful and they don’t like it.. Being virtually blind they need their sense of smell to locate their prey and so will vacate the area. Don’t use too much and pollute your soil. Having said that moles do a wonderful job of turning over the soil and making it loose and fine grained.

tubbybeard49 says:
30 November 2012

Shortly after the next door occupants moved the friscy little sods broke in and after trying traditional traps and one humane trap which were ignored I put down a single blocks of bait and if that was eaten I put three down three more blocks in the same place and that did the trick . However after eating the first block they seemed to go a bit crazy running around really fast and making a lot of noise banging into things .

Hi Gavin! Not sure that this will work for you but It worked for us. We had molehills in the garden – one at each undeveloped asparagus plant. My father claimed that moles are regular creatures appearing at the same time each day. He went out with his spade at the time he had identified, watched for signs of the earth moving (I assume) then swiftly dug in, threw up and invariably caught, concussed and killed a mole. And so they were vanquished one by one. This method required a lot of patience but not a lot of equipment or worry about animal rights. Good luck!

Interacdiv says:
30 November 2012

Cats aren’t a solution. We’ve only had live mice in the house since we got a cat who considerately brings them in for us to play with! Human traps work perfectly well and should always be the solution of choice.

In these eco friendly days we need to think about recycling and sustainable food sources, so here is a novel and practical solution to our perennial mouse problem.
Wooden kebab skewers are best, remember to soak them first. Burn off the mouses hair, scape the skin then skewer them, put them on the BBQ till crisp, dip them in a honey cinnamon mix, and serve with a little dried fruit on the side, wonderful snack and a cheap addition to the Christmas table.

Earlier this year, Patrick had his team eating insects. Then someone mentioned Kopi luwak coffee.

What you suggest is truly disgusting, m, but perhaps it’s not much worse than a hog roast.

A spicy peanut sauce would go well too.

The insect eating video Wavechange refers to: https://conversation.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/eating-insects-would-you-eat-edible-bugs/

I would not suggest taking up M’s idea…

I quote from Petronas description of a Roman feast [60AD]

‘We were invited to take our seats. Immediately, Egyptian slaves came in and poured ice water over our hands. The starters were served. On a large tray stood a donkey made of bronze. On its back were two baskets, one holding green olives, and the other black. On either side were dormice, dipped in honey and rolled in poppy seed. nearby, on a silver grill, piping hot, lay small sausages. As for wine, we were fairly swimming in it.”

As dormice are protected, and field mice seem to be getting fatter, and retro food is becoming fashionable, hold on the phone in ringing……. Hello, Heston you want to trail my recipe 🙂

(Thanks to the history learning website for the Petronas quote )

It’s good to see you have returned to entertain us us m., but can you apply your mind to something a little less revolting than barbecued mice?

Musicman says:
30 November 2012

Mice in the home environment are a pest and a nuisance – plain and simple!

You need to get rid of them fast, because they can and will cause a great deal of damage to the likes of home wiring and insulation products if left unattended.

Watch too, especially if you are storing a car or motorbike in the garage over the winter months. Mice love nothing better that to munch their way through the aphostery of your ‘Pride and Joy’ – you will be left with sorry smelly expensive mess come Spring, if you don’t watch out

Leave traps and bait down when you see any evidence of their presence, and persist doggedly, till they are all gone – or you will regret it!

[Posted by one who paid the price for ignoring them!!]

JAMES says:
30 November 2012

Inhumane traps are the most effective way. Place them with cardbord boxes on three sides. If a mouse can only approach the trap from the front it is much more likely a clean kill will result..

Mogadon says:
30 November 2012

The key to preventing mice is to figure out where they’re coming into the house. The same applies to wasps nests in the roof – they have to get in somehow, if you can find out where and block it up, problem solved.

Harder with mice as they’re extremely mobile and move in smaller numbers than wasps, nonetheless if you can work out where they’re coming in, prevention has to be better than cure. Bear in mind that a small mouse get through a space about 1cm square, so you’ll need to be thorough. Look at catflaps, drains, outside taps, grates. Also see if there’s a pattern to the droppings inside – may give you a clue as to where they’re coming in.

CharlyGaul says:
30 November 2012

A cautionary tale on the damage mice can do:
My dishwasher stopped working, it would not fill up. This was because mice had eaten their way into the waste hose, because they can smell food residues. Water then leaked into the base of the machine, operating a switch which turns off the water to stop flooding.
Repairman advised that he has seen this problem many times.

Even a pet hamster – a cordless mouse 🙂 – can cause mayhem, as I found out as a teenager. Given half a chance they will gnaw the insulation of mains leads.