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Do-It-Yourself Mouse Control


Part 1: Non-Chemical Mouse Control

The first step to effective mouse control is sanitation. When talking about mouse control, this means more than tidying the place up. It means systematically depriving mice of food, harborage, and nesting materials.

Mouse droppings, spilled food, and nesting materials should be removed from areas where they are found. To avoid illness, this must be done very carefully. Mouse droppings and other by-products associated with mice may contain pathogens and parasites, so don't touch them with your bare hands.

In addition, because pathogens are microscopic, you shouldn't vacuum droppings and other contaminated items with an ordinary vacuum cleaner, as this may just cause the pathogens to become airborne.

A better solution is to spray the droppings and nesting material with a non aerosol, pump-type disinfectant spray, let them dry, and then remove them. Most any high-quality disinfectant can be used; or you can make a mixture of 12 parts water to 1 part household bleach and spray the mixture on the contaminated areas using a pump-type sprayer.

Always wear rubber gloves and wash your hands carefully after working with either mouse by-products or chemicals.


The next step in mouse control is exclusion. This means making structural changes -- such as caulking, sealing, or installing door sweeps -- to keep mice out of the building.

Since mice can squeeze through any hole as big around as your little finger, or through a crack the width of a pencil, mouse exclusion can be a daunting job. But it is essential to long-term mouse control.

We could go into great detail here about rodent exclusion; but since the U.S. National Parks Service has been kind enough to write an entire manual about it, we suggest you just click here to download it. (It's a .pdf file; you'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.

If you don't already have it, you can download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader here.)

Trapping Mice

Whenever possible, we recommend trapping mice, rather than poisoning them. Trapping produces faster results and avoids the risks associated with chemical rodenticides. It also eliminates the risk of a poisoned mouse dying in a wall void or other inaccessible area and decaying there. Mice who die in areas from which they cannot be retrieved can cause odor problems and serve as a breeding area for flies. Their displaced ectoparasites will also look for new hosts, and may infest people or domestic animals.

Individuals handling any rodent trap should wear rubber gloves and wash carefully with an anti-microbial soap after handling the traps.

Here are some of the more common types of mousetraps in use today.

Snap Traps

Photo courtesy of United Exterminating Company.The oldest and most commonly-used trap is called a "snap trap." Commonly used baits include peanut butter, dried fruit, jelly beans, and gumdrops. (Contrary to popular belief, cheese is not a very good mouse bait.)

The trap on the right has an "expanded trigger" that includes a sensitivity adjustment, which should be set heavy enough so as not to trigger because of vibration, but light enough that a mouse can trigger it.

Snap traps are placed perpendicular to a wall or vertical surface along mouse runways or areas where droppings have been found, with the trigger end against the wall. (Click here for illustrations.)

Multiple-Catch Mousetraps

Mechanical mousetrapWindup, multiple-catch mousetraps are best placed along mouse runways with their entrance holes a couple inches away from and facing the runway.

Mice are naturally inquisitive, and will enter the hole as they pass by. They then step on a pedal and are flipped by a paddle-wheel type of device into a holding chamber. Usually they are not injured in the process, although once in a while they are.

The Ketch-All Multiple-Catch Mouse trap shown on the right is the one most used by professional exterminators. It's even approved for use in federally-inspected food manufacturing plants.

Electronic Mouse Traps

Electronic Mouse TrapA more high-tech twist on the multiple-catch mousetrap is the Victor Electronic Mouse Trap shown at the right. This trap kills 40 to 50 mice with one set of batteries, with no chemicals. These traps are especially useful for mouse control in unattended places like camps, bungalows, cabins, sheds, and so forth.

(What was that someone once said about building a better mousetrap?)

Sticky Traps ("Glueboards")

Glue boardGlueboard traps are cardboard or plastic trays covered with a sticky glue. They are placed along mouse runways, and mice simply get stuck to them. Glueboards are most effective in dry, clean, room-temperature areas. They must be changed frequently, as accumulated dust and debris on the traps will render them ineffective.

Although quite effective, many people object to glue traps as being inhumane. In fact, they are illegal in some countries. Trapped mice sometimes squeal helplessly for hours (or even days) before they die. If this bothers you, then don't use them.

Otherwise, you can find a wide variety of mouse glue traps glue traps here.

Humane Mousetraps

Photo courtsey of Victor Pest Products.A number of companies manufacture humane mouse traps that are designed to trap mice alive and unharmed, so they may be relocated elsewhere rather than being killed.

Humane traps are an option for those who feel bad about killing mice, but who nonetheless prefer not sharing their homes with them. In some localities, however, releasing trapped mice may be illegal; so check your state and local laws. It would be very embarrassing to go to jail for humanely releasing mice. "Hey, whatcha' in for?"

Humane mouse traps need to be checked frequently, lest trapped mice starve to death in the traps, which would defeat the purpose of using a humane trap. Care must be taken when handling the traps; mice have ectoparasites that can cause disease.

Humane mouse traps can be found in most hardware stores, or purchased online here.

Next: Chemical Mouse Control