newhomeowner-2009November 20, 2009

So I bought my old farmhouse (built in 1920, expanded 1938) in the Catskill Mountains a year ago. We use it mainly as a weekend and seasonal retreat. We're in a largely wooded area. All was well until, this fall, mice!

I'm told that these are a seasonal problem in the Catskills, and that I may actually have voles. Our cat presented us with a couple of dead ones a few weeks ago, and last week, returning after an absence of a couple of weeks, we found the kitchen counters covered with dropping and a mouse at one point ran around the living room. Yecch! I hate rodents.

So I bought at the Home Depot a couple of those electronic devices that emit an ultrasonic sound, but everyone tells me those are a waste of money and I've got to go ahead and tackle those mice. We're back in the city now, so I don't know if there has been any renewed invasion.

Now, as an apartment dweller in NYC living in a very old building, I have successfully kept out mice with steel wool. But I don't know for the life of me where these critters are coming in from. I see no cracks or holes down in the basement. Maybe some have taken up residence in the basement? We do have some newspapers and lots of old cardboard boxes.

Anyway, aside from the obvious (getting rid of those papers and boxes), what's the accepted means to get rid of or keep out these things? I hear that poison will result in dead mice and stench. Traps, particularly glue ones, give me the willies. Help!

Hey, I'm not squeamish in general, just about rodents.

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There are several products I have used, but I like to be humane when trapping even rodents, so some of them would not be suitable for a family who only comes to the house occasionally.

The electronic sound emitting devices are so bogus. I tore one apart one time because I suspected the box was empty. LOL. I hate glue traps for humane reasons. I have used tin cats, but the mice would die slow and horrible deaths of starvation until you emptied the trap. Again inhumane in your circumstances.

What I have found works is an electronic mousetrap. It is a little container where the mouse enters, approaches the bait in the back and is electrocuted. It's battery powered, and is great for the occasional mouse who comes into the shelter of a rural home in the fall. Yes, that is to be expected. We go through it every year.

The mouse may be mummified by the time you come to your vacation home, but it'll be dead and clean-up consists of opening the top and dumping it out.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 4:20PM
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Yeah, I'm not using glue traps. I mean, I just want them out of the house I don't want to torture the dang things! For some reason I really hate the idea of killing 'em at all. I'm not a pacifist or anything like that. But I guess I got to. The electronic thing makes sense.

I bought my electronic zapper at Home Depot and will take advantage of the store's generous return policy if it doesn't work!

What about old-fashioned mouse traps? I've heard that they work fine and kill 'em fast, if kill them one must do.

What I'd like to do most of all is keep them out of the house. Is there a realistic way of doing that?

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 11:48AM
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hate to sound ignorant but how does the steel wool work

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 12:51PM
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Oh, sticking steel wool in any holes or crevices from which mice can appear. 100% effective in keeping them out of my ancient New York apartment.

As for the house, I have to check out the area under the sink in the kitchen, which may be their source if they are coming up from the basement, but I'm not sure where to put steel wool in the basement to keep them out of the house. It seems pretty tight. There were some cracks near a window, but I sealed them up last year.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2009 at 5:00PM
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A mouse can flatten them selves nearly as thin as a piece of paper and skinny them selves into a pencil shape. Go to the basement in the day light but don't turn on any lights. Every crack you see is a potential mouse door. Turn all the basement lights on. Go outside in the total dark. Every crack you see is a potential mouse door. Hate to be so pessimistic but I've had lots of mouse watching experience. You need lots of cats!

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 4:54PM
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We live in a villa in a retirement community and I recently saw 3 mice! One ran across my kitchen counter! EEEK! I hate mice. I called Maintenance and they set one of those sticky traps which didn't work - DH heard the mouse shuffling around in it. Maintenance guy also pulled out the broiler shelf at the bottom of the stove and saw mouse dirt. He spread mouse pellets around there.

DH finally set traps and caught them all. I didn't want any more mice around my house and I saw a product recommended on another forum. It is called Pest Offense and you plug it into a wall socket and it emits electronic waves IN the walls through the electrical system, not into the room. Supposedly, it repels not only mice, but other creepy things like bugs. I bought one on Ebay and plugged it in and haven't seen any mice since. I'm assuming it is working. You can look up the product on Google FYI.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 6:52PM
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Like Pinch Me says, mice can get through cracks you wouldn't even dream they can. Likewise, if they want into a cabinet badly enough, they can and do take the time to chew their way into it. I have a cabinet door to prove it.

You might be able to mouse-proof a new build, or mouse-proof one unit of an existing old building, but mouse-proofing an old house, especially in a rural area is almost impossible. Our's is, anyway. Stone foundation, old windows, yadayada. We even lined behind the baseboards with aluminum, figuring they couldn't chew their way in through that. Ha!

They only come in twice a year. Spring and fall and yes, some times they are voles and not house mice. Have also rounded up shrews, several varieties of snakes, moles, a bat or two a duck, frogs, salamanders, a couple of chipmunks, chimney swifts and be thankful you didn't have my son's problem, an angus calf made it's way up their back steps and into their kitchen. rofl. Life in the country.......it's grand.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 9:24PM
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I'd much rather have an Angus calf in my house than a mouse! A duck would be nice, too. LOL!

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 10:06AM
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I did get that electronic device, either Pest Offense or a similar product, at Home Depot. I haven't been back to the house but I'll be curious to see if it had any effect. They don't have a very good reputation.

My house is pretty solid. My suspicion is that they may be coming through the basement floor, as there are several points of entry from the outside that way. I do admit it is a pretty grim situation.

And snakes? They're welcome in my basement any time they want. The ones in our area aren't poisonous (I think). A couple hang out by the front porch, but I haven't seen them recently.

Now that you mention it I once did find a bat in one of the upstairs bedrooms. It was hanging upside down--dead. Not sure how that happened. Hey, I hear they eat mice, so bats are OK with me.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 10:39AM
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The pest repellent sold at Home Depot is the type that sends ultrasound vibrations into the rooms of the house.

The Pest Offense is designed to send an intermittent signal in the electrical field around the wiring of any dwelling. The signal creates an irritating environment WITHIN the walls and ceiling that affects rodents. You should not use one if you have pet gerbils or guinea pigs. Just wanted to make that clear.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 11:01AM
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We occationally get mice and/or moles in the fall or spring. They like to steal the dog food. My cat does a decent job, but there is only one of her. So we use the old fashioned spring loaded traps. Kills them immediately if setup right. I know, I watched one go off (scared me half out of my wits!) and the mouse didn't even flinch. DH and I have an agreement, he sets them and I clean them. Peanut butter works the best because they have to lick it off. Also follow the advice in finding where they might be coming in and seal those up. Hard to do in an old house, but it's worth a try. Besides where rodents can come in so can cold air.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 5:22PM
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"The Pest Offense is designed to send an intermittent signal in the electrical field around the wiring of any dwelling."

To bad mice cannot sense electric fields.

None of these things work.

Save your money for traps or poison.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 9:19AM
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Your ag extension office (usually staffed by County workers) is helpful for guiding you to the right poisons
or methods for eradication.

Our local office sells poisons at a low price.

What I've used successfully is a wax dipped ball of seeds
which will kill mice or rats. You put them out away from
the house and it tend to move the rats or mice toward the
poison, away from the house, where they die.

Let us know how it turns out.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 2:15PM
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I really hate to see poisons used when it can't be at least confined to the inside of a structure to prevent the poison from being consumed by a creature for whom it might not be meant, either first-hand or second hand. One of my friend's cats nearly bled to death from eating a poisoned rodent.

Poisoned rodents inside homes also have a knack for finding their way in between walls and into air and heat ducts. I worked for a swanky shop once who also sold seeds and bird products. So, of course we had mice. So, baits were put out and the rodents had a little banquet and right before our Christmas open house the whole retail side began to really reek. We had eats and drinks and the smell of decaying rodentia overwhemed it all. One of the designers tried to camouflage it with potpourri. Oh man, I still cannot stand the aroma of cinnamon or eucalyptus and it's been twenty years.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 6:03PM
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For a while we used conventional traps (the kind you get at the grocery for about a dollar) set with peanut butter. But we'd have to set the traps every night, because after 24 hours, the peanut butter is dry enough to "chunk off", and the mice can eat it without always springing the trap. We've since switched to marshmallow fluff, which is more tenacious than peanut butter, and had much better results.

I miss our cat who has moved to the neighbor's house. But my daughter has cut her allergy meds by 75% since the cat left, so no more felines for us. The only time we had mice when we had her was high midsummer, when she stayed outdoors instead of sleeping in the basement.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 8:15AM
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