/ 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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The effects of a mouse gnawing through plastic water pipes can be devastating.
My son’s church conversion had just one mouse. It had chewed through 2 plastic water pipes at mains pressure under the upper floor. Luckily the poison killed it before it got through all 3 layers of plastic. It had gone through the outer white layer, then the blue layer and the innermost layer of plastic was almost through. Can’t imagine the damage of all that water in the ceilinng spraying over everything, and then soaking the parquet on the ground floor. Very lucky!
But then the next problem; the smell of a deadun. Took us 8 hours and lots of work with a circular saw cutting the chipboard floor up before we found the little blighter between a noggin and a RSJ, lying there hidden until we crowbarred the noggin out. We just had the increasing smell to guide us.
We have now baited little nippers with a raisin and a small blob of chocolate.
That bait worked for me a few months ago in my house, when I set 3 traps. Although I still can’t work out how it ate the chocolate and raisin off one trap and just the raisin off the second one before the third one got the little menace. Those litle nippers took ages to set – any vibration was setting them off as I put them on the floor.

Peter Hulse says:
1 December 2012

I first had mice in this house a few years ago, and found them rather cute (I used to get up on Monday mornings at four o’clock to work away during the week, and could chase them half-heatedly arounf the kitchen). But eventually it got too much, so I set a classic mouse-trap with Toblerone. I was quite impressed the following morning when I found the three apexes nibbbled away, and the trap not set off. “Next time” I thought, but two days later the Toblerone had gone, and the trap had still not been set off (I tested it with my finger, and it was still working) So I went for poison, and got them. But I still feel guilty about it: these were clearly pretty bright mice

I too have found ultra-sonic plug-ins to be a waste of time. The mice, spiders and flies ignore it. After using humane traps for some time, I read on the internet about mice not liking the smell of peppermint oil. Since then, I have tried putting a few drops of the concentrated peppermint oil, (readily available from that well-known health food shop) onto a cotton wool pad. Then put the pad near when you have seen the mice; (in my case, under the sink ). You have to renew this every few days since the oil is very volatile and evaporates off the cotton wool pads. SO FAR, no further mice have been seen, nor has there been any visible evidence of their presence, if you know what I mean! This only works in a fairly confined space, but has the advantage of a pleasant smelling kitchen!

Having suffered for years in the house – even in the loft, garage and shed and seen the destruction they cause I set standard traps. Except they’re the improved ones. Rentokil from Screwfix; model’s changed now though. Wild Bird Seed mix they love. And the dead mouse is shaken out onto the lawn for the magpies. Natural Recycling.
We stayed in a B & B in Lincolnshire a few weeks ago and saw a mouse in the room. It was literally nicking the coffee sachets; and the rustling noise that woke us was it chewing into the sachet!

My plumber was heavily in favour of using traditional copper piping in any property with a chance of getting mice i.e. older houses and anything in the country.
The additional cost is easily outweighed by a single repair being needed to a plastic pipe.especially in an awkward location.

Sarsaparilla says:
30 November 2012

I like the humane traps-they’ve always worked for me. They catch the mouse overnight (using chocolate for bait, although the smell of the cocktail of mouse urine and white chocolate toblerone has put me off the triangular peaked treat for life) and then I bring the mouse along with me on the way to work in the car and set it out somewhere I think it will enjoy. I’m not sure if this is in fact humane as the mouse seems terrified (though well fed) so would probably not survive very long in its new surroundings but at least I don’t have to deal with half dead mice.

Danny says:
11 January 2015

I just don’t understand why people “release” vermin, you’re just making your problem someone elses problem, they are pets like a dog or cat lol, please use a trap that kills them and then dispose of them. They are vermin and cause LOTS of damage to people property. If you just release them they will breed and cause massive problems, i caught 72 mice in 2 weeks of traps in my shed, they have caused massive damage to all my equipment, many £1000’s.

Danny says:
11 January 2015

sorry, typo, they AREN’T pets like dogs and cats haha

Alison says:
27 November 2015

i must admit i was rather confused by that concept

What traps do you use, Danny?

Grandadcress says:
30 November 2012

Hi, I use T REX trap with PEANUT BUTTER in jar, works every time, I trapped 4 in under 1 hour ! they can’t resist it.

Snowdin says:
30 November 2012

I gave up on an ultrasonic device in my garage. It made no difference at all. Whether that’s because of obstructions in the garage or just a useless piece of kit I don’t know, but mice still come in every winter to chew up my shoelaces.

Why do you not have ultra-sonic devices in your survey? That is what we use for our second home and we’ve not had any trouble since we installed three of them.

Which brand did you buy?

Angela Fardell says:
30 November 2012

We live in an old house of chalk lump construction (clunch or cobb); the mice burrow through the wall or nibble round pipe entrances. Even new kitchen units cannot keep them out. I keep bird food and dog biscuits in tins but mice eat anything from plastic bags, foil packets, cables etc. I hate to kill them and will try the peppermint oil.

sandraw says:
1 December 2012

we live in a cobbled house and mice live in the walls. In cold weather we have to resort to traditional traps to keep them out of the house. We used poison once! The mice died behind the walls quite close to central heating pipes, the smell was awful, and pervaded the house for ages. We feed the birds and red squirrels and store the food is in plastic dustbins, mice have been known to eat through the lids! Ultra-sonic devices did not work at all. When we go away we leave radios on in the house as a deterant.

Alison says:
6 December 2015

A radio on low on only air noise and laid on the floor will deter rats and mice. I had a dog which was distressed from the radio being on but not by doing it the way I described. It works in the same way as the sonic devices. The rodents cant stand the low continuous noise.

Michael says:
1 December 2012

We live in the country and regularly get mice coming into our bungalow most winters. These are wood mice or field mice and are not house mice. In an effort to stop entry I have wired over all airbricks and examined all the eaves for holes (I understand that a mouse can enter any hole which is big enough for a biro pen to enter). All without sucsess. I have found that a small cube of potato on a spring breakback trap is a very effective bait. Its only downside is that it needs renewing every couple of days, if not taken, because it drys out. I also check trap sensitivity before use and adjust the locking wire as neccesary. I adjust until the trap will spring if not put down very gently. In over 25 years I have only seen three mice still alive in a trap.

I’ve been hearing mice under the floorboards for years. They never seem to actually appear, so have been quite happy to let them be, although having read these comments, I’m now worried about the state of my electrics behind the walls…

Simon says:
3 December 2012

If they’re living there long-term, they’re eating your food, urinating, defecating & dying.
I had a similar situation in my last house and when I took up the floor in one room I found sereral corpses & a huge amount of faeces.
I’d rather kill the few that enter the house rather than have an ever-increasing colony.

I live in a flat in a mid-Victorian townhouse in an area where there are lots of mice. Six years ago a firm called Allpest went round my whole flat and blocked all the gaps with a kind of putty mixed with iron filings, which mice can’t chew through. This has been very effective, I’ve had no problems since. I don’t know whether the firm still exists or whether other firms offer this treatment. Obviously it wouldn’t be suitable for every property, but it might be worth looking into.

I have found the following very effective for DIY mouseproofing.
Any hole or crack you can thrust a standard pencil through is usually large enough for a mouse to squeeze through, if you stuff the holes / cracks with steel wool and then use a propitiatory filler, to seal the gap and cement the wire wool in place.
This works in the same way as the Allpest putty, the mice cannot chew though the steel wool.
Airbricks cannot be sealed as they are needed for ventilation, but can be covered with wire mesh.

John says:
1 December 2012

Having checked the two mouse traps and rat trap this morning, all set close to each other, the bait has been taken from the rat trap without it going off which is quite incredible as it is very sensitive. However one mouse trap had just vanished! It’s no where in the small outhouse and I can only think the caught mouse has either run off to the outside or climbed up into the house loft and is somewhere up there!

Jan and Ali says:
1 December 2012

We live in an old cottage in the heart of the New Forest. We didn’t really notice pests until we got our 2 cats. They bring in an abundance of wild life, in various stages of life and death …… a variety of birds, mice, rats, voles, shrews, moles and once, a medium sized koi carp…… still alive and flapping! We’ve put 2 bells on each of them, any other suggestions welcome.

Bill says:
1 December 2012

Live in a 200 year old stone walled cottage, next to woods in the country. Always have mice in the house and garage every autumn and winter. Used to have up to 4 cats about the place, they kill mice, but they get ‘lazy’ or to well fed. Used ‘Little Nipper’ etc and all you get are bloodied fingers! These easy set traps from B&Q are the business. On good nights we’ve had two traps on the go and reset both 4 times. No rebaiting and clean kills every time. Humane traps/’TinCats may catch mice (10 in 1 trap, in 1 night) but don’t “Let them go!” they have a homing instinct of at least 0.5 mile (marked with nail polish, just too see!), so now they are immersed rapidly in a butt of water and held there for at least a minute. I hate doing it, but when the place is overrun, needs must. Poison takes out lots of other beasts and a ‘hot’ mouse for owls, hawks, buzzards or your pet cat/dog is not recommended. Clear up if you feed birds in the garden and provide raptor perches, we have a buzzard who visits and crows, who all dispose of the bodies.
Beware the ‘Longtails’!

Peter Hawkins says:
2 December 2012

We had one mouse that joined our household. I didn’t want to use poison, partly for humanitarian reasons but mostly because from past experience mice can end up dieing inside your furniture. The smell is horrible. So, I bought two humane traps from B&Q. After one false start we caught the mouse and I had a delightful walk along the canal footpath in Swindon to release it. It could have ended up as owl food but at least it had a chance of survival. We left the traps in place just for reassurance.
Mind you, it’s a very different situation if a whole tribe of mice move in as happened in my parents’ house. They put poison down but were only rewarded with the smell of rotting mouse corpses.
They obtained two cats and within a few days the mice moved on probably to our neighbours.

carmel says:
21 March 2015

The only good thing about reading the comments above, is that sufferers seem to find some humour in the situation. We’ve had a rural holiday home for nearly 8 years and initially we had occasional visits from mice, but in the last few months the problem has really escalated. At first it was rather hilarious, and baffling, to find small stashes of hazelnuts and fruit pips in the beds, but since the invaders started eating the duvets, linen etc we decided to take drastic action. We have put bait in the areas mainly affected, but on our last visit we found stashes of bait in the beds, around the floor, in shoes etc. I now wonder whether the bait is actually attracting more in! Anyone else experienced this?

Two years ago a mouse nibbled its way through a plastic elbow-joint under the bath. This joint was for the water pump to the shower. The water found its way through the floorboards and to the dining room below. It resulted in us having to have the dining table re-polished and eight chairs re-upholstered and re-polished. Also the carpet had to be replaced.
Now we have mouse traps (hidden) from ‘BandQ’ all over the house, together with a sonic device to deter the mice in our loft. If we use poison then any mice that take it only move to an inaccessable place to die. This means an awful smell for days after.

I sometimes get mice in my garden storage unit. I found poison bait works for me, I always understood it to be a painless death. You need to keep the little trays topped up. I used to keep the sealed plastic tub of bait on a shelf in the store as well and was quite amused when I found that the mice had chewed through the tub to get at the tasty poison inside, and thus unknowingly committed suicide.

We live adjacent to fields, and they come in for the winter – climb the walls into our loft (nice and warm under the glass fibre) then down into the kitchen at night. I like animals, including mice, but they can spread disease so for self protection they must go. Sonic devices proved useless, poison gives them time to hide somewhere before they expire, so we resort to peanut butter on spring traps at the first signs, hopefully before they breed. I am not a gratuitous executioner – I feel quite relieved to be able to let one go in the garden that has survived the trap.

I had a few mice some years ago & having read up about some of the diseases they can spread I decided that humane killing would be the only option. Catch them & release them outside & they just come back in, or find another house & become someone else’s problem – they’re not called house mice for nothing. Although I didn’t like having to do it, I felt that an electronic trap would kill them instantly, so not cause prolonged suffering as a mechnical trap can. The electronic trap (B&Q) worked very well, baited with peanut butter, & was easy to use hygienically. I’ve also got one of those ultrasonic sound emitters, but haven’t been able to assess whether it’s really doing any good or not. The tip about filling gaps in the woodwork etc with steel wool is a good one, the little tinkers can’t gnaw through that.