How Long Does It Take to Get Rid of Mice in a Building?
No one wants to think about quivering, squeaking little mice running around in the attic, walls, rooms, and basement of your house or place of employment. Unfortunately, mice are pretty much ubiquitous the world over, and the United States is no exception. If the thought of the timid little critters gives you the cringes, here is some important information toward getting rid of mice—and keeping them away. The more you understand about mice themselves, the easier it will be to outsmart them.
The most common species of mouse that humans will encounter in homes and buildings are the House Mouse. House mice are about 2-5 inches long, with a 3-4-inch tail. They are relatively small, as rodents go, and have relatively large ears, in comparison with their overall size. They have tiny little beady black eyes that are always darting around, though their sense of sight is not very developed. Their other four senses, however, are highly developed, and they can smell and feel your vibrations before they see you. This gives them the opportunity to hide from you before you see them.
Deer, or field, mice are the next most common mice you will see indoors. They live in more wooded, rural areas, but the concept is the same. Deer mice are very easy to tell apart from house mice because they are distinctively colored. They have a brownish top half, with a white belly. Their eyes and ears are somewhat larger than house mice, as well. Deer mice are active year-round, with food gathering habits similar to squirrels. They tend to be drawn indoors when it is very cold, and when they must replenish their supplies. If they happen to enter an unoccupied place, they can cause extensive damage during this time.
Though mice are mostly active at night, they can sometimes be seen darting around during the daytime hours. Any droppings, trails, greasy smudges, or fresh gnaw marks indicate that you have a current problem, in case you were not sure. You may even hear rustlings or squeaking from them. Mice can run upward on any rough vertical surface, and can even jump up to one foot from the floor to a flat surface. They can also squeeze through a crack or hole that is only ¼ inch in diameter! (Remember that fact for later.) Basically, as long as they can fit their head through, or gnaw the hole wider, they can gain entrance to a place. Mother mice can become pregnant at 9-10 weeks, and have up to 10 litters of up to 6 babies each! Then those babies mature and can reproduce again at 9-10 weeks! It is mindboggling the number of mice that can be produced from just one pair!
The first step in a plan of action to eradicate mice is to find and block/seal off any openings they may be getting through. Holes in foundations are best patched with a mixture of cement and steel or copper mesh, as the mice cannot chew through this. Other holes will most likely have to be filled in with quality building materials. Once this has been completed—and it is a huge job, making certain ALL holes have been patched—one can move on to the second step, baiting.
Baiting is usually done with rodenticides. These are VERY toxic, and as such, much care must be taken to be certain that children, pets, and other wildlife are not exposed. There are many commercial baiting “stations” available, as well as plain old “rat poison” in boxes that can be set out, approximately every 40 feet around the perimeter of the building. You must also make certain that there are no other food sources nearby, such as dumpsters, unsecure garbage cans, pet food, and the like. The mice will always prefer “fresh” sources of food over the poisons, of which they can be suspicious. *Do not use bait, e.g., rodenticides, inside a house or building; if the mice cannot get outside to die, they will expire in the attic, walls, basement, or rooms of the building, leading to a more extensive cleanup and sanitization. All rodenticides are anticoagulants, which cause the mouse’s blood to thin to levels incompatible to life. If left to die inside, the body will first bloat, then the fluids will leak out, causing stains and odor. In addition, you could end up with clouds of flies and other bugs, which become attracted to the odor. It usually takes several weeks to a month for the smell of rotting mice to dissipate.
Trapping is the final step. While it is possible to “catch-and-release,” if you want to get rid of the mice permanently, this is not the wisest option. Using snap traps or glue-based traps are better, especially when you want to be certain that the mouse population is dwindling. Traps must be set correctly in order to catch mice. There are several common mistakes people tend to make when baiting their traps.
• Touching the bait with your bare hands
• Using too much/wrong type of bait
• Putting traps in wrong place/not enough traps
• Expecting results right away
Mice will recognize the scent of a human on both the trap and the bait, and will give it a wide berth. Using gloves will circumvent this (and keep yourself safe from disease when removing dead mouse bodies). Though “Jerry,” the mouse in “Tom and Jerry” loved cheese, real mice prefer grain-based baits, such as peanut or almond butter. They also like chocolate; using a combination of both (hazelnut spread, e.g., Nutella) will surely tempt them. Putting traps anywhere you’ve found evidence of mouse activity is the best route, rather than just putting a few here and there. Since mice prefer to travel along walls for protection, placing traps anywhere from a few inches to two feet along a wall in the area that mice are known to frequent will go a long way toward your goal. Do not expect results right away, since mice are very suspicious and cautious when it comes to novel things in their environment. However, studies have shown that the first night of trapping is usually the best night you’ll have, so put out the traps with gloves, using hazelnut spread as bait, every foot or so, and you should start getting the job done!
There are also “rat-zappers,” which use battery power to electrocute the mouse (or rat), eliminating the need for manually removing the dead bodies from a different type of trap. The device will “zap” the mouse upon taking the bait from the trap, and then, after about 20 seconds, will zap it again, to make sure the job is done. You will then have only to remove the dead body and dispose of it.
How long any of these methods take will depend upon your expertise at sealing holes, baiting and placing traps, and the mouse’s temperament. Why not go all out and place many baited traps the first night, and wait for the satisfying ‘SNAP!’ sound to come?
Read the How to get rid of mouses page for helpful information and to learn more about How Long Does It Take to Get Rid of Mice in a Building?
How Long Does It Take to Get Rid of Mice in a Building?
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