They are fine in Disneyland, but you don’t want mice in your home. And right now — when temperatures are dropping and wild creatures are looking for a warm spot to bed down — is when they invade.
It takes a bit of work, especially if you live in the country or near open fields, but you can control them if you know how.
Keep them out in the first place
Mice need an opening only the size of a dime to get into your home, bringing with them the potential for life-threatening hantavirus in their droppings, chewing wiring, and damaging your possessions. That means you need to do a detailed inspection of your foundation and any other entry points like spots where pipes pass through exterior walls, entries and around vents. If you can’t block the hole from the outside, stuff it with steel wool, which they won’t chew through.
Remember the garage and shrubbery
Don’t neglect your garage. Mice can nest in your car’s engine compartment, chomp on vehicle wiring and even squeeze inside the car itself.
Trim shrubbery and tree branches close to your house unless you want mice and insects using them like expressways into your home. It’s a good idea to clean up fallen fruit from trees in your yard as well as spilled feed from bird feeders. Mice nest in wood piles, so keep firewood stacked away from your house.
Don’t feed the critters
Got crumbs sitting on your countertop or in kitchen drawers or cabinets? Is dog food left out all the time? Or are there long-forgotten goodies stashed in your kids’ bedroom closets or dressers? Mice have a keen sense of smell and will track the food down, leaving their droppings as a kind of “Thank you!”
If they do invade
Forget the homemade solutions: peppermint oil, cloves, dryer sheets and other tactics won’t drive mice from your home. What will is an old-school baited spring trap that breaks the mouse’s back in one fell swoop. It’s brutal, but generally more humane than glue pads that leave the animal immobile but alive. Spring traps cost less than $2 each, are easy to use (a combination of cheese and peanut butter is more than most mice can resist) and can be reused many times. Just watch your fingers when setting one.
If traditional traps aren’t your thing, you’ll find electronic devices at building material and hardware stores that kill mice with an electric shock. There are also catch and release traps if you don’t mind relocating mice and other ways to control mice.