Mother Earth News Blogs > Nature and Environment

Nature and Environment

News about the health and beauty of the natural world that sustains us.


How to Keep Mice Away This Winter Without Hurting Them

mouse

Mice are highly misunderstood animals, and this sad truth means that every year humans use careless and often ineffective measures to eradicate mice from their homes.

Contrary to popular belief, these little animals are as intelligent as dogs, able to empathize with one another and extremely organized and tidy. While most people associate mice with disease, they’re actually far less likely to transmit parasites and viruses than household pets like cats and dogs.

Natural deterrents can discourage mice from settling in your home, but when those fail, kind methods allow for proper removal without the need to kill or harm that mouse in your house.

Fun Facts About Mice

Mice are often unfairly portrayed as dirty rodents, but they are actually fascinating, gentle creatures. For instance, mice:

• Can recognize their given names and respond to humans calling for them.
• Communicate with one another vocally beyond the auditory capabilities of human ears.
• Use facial expressions to convey moods.
• Designate areas or compartments within their homes for food, shelter and toileting purposes.
• Typically stay within 3 to 8 meters from their nest, even when searching for food.
• Can fit their bodies through holes as tiny as dimes.
• Utilize their whiskers to determine temperature changes and to detect smooth and rough textures.
• Have excellent balancing abilities and can even scale vertical structures if the surface has enough gripping texture.
• Symbolize discovery, organization, wisdom and scrutiny in Shamanism.

Inhumane and Ineffective Measures

Unfortunately, humans often perceive mice to be problematic beyond what they actually are, and this can result in a panic that leads to wanting to euthanize the animal through common products such as glue traps, mouse traps and poison. These measures are extremely cruel, often leading to slow, agonizing deaths.

To make matters worse, these methods don’t do anything to control the rodent population in the long run. In fact, they tend to only make matters worse. When a mouse is killed, this simply means more food for the remaining mice. And well-fed mice lead to more abundant breeding.

Natural Deterrents

Perhaps the most effective way to rid your home of mice is through the use of natural repellents. Keeping your home free from food debris, crumbs and loosely bagged food is a must in order to deter rodent inhabitation.

Keep countertops clean and ensure that both regular food and pet food are kept in strong containers that can’t be chewed through easily by hungry mice. Tightly seal trash with taut lids, don’t leave pet food out at night and keep your landscaping orderly with no appealing hiding spots. Fix any holes or cracks within the home with a sealant and insulation, and use ammonia-soaked cloths to repel rodents.

Humane-Trapping Methods

If any mice linger after these deterrents are used, they can be humanely trapped and released with live cages, such as this humane mouse trap recommended by PETA. Insert a bit of appetizing peanut butter at the very back of the trap to allow mice to fully enter without getting their delicate tails caught in the trap door.

A makeshift trap can also be created using DIY methods. For instance, placing some peanut butter inside of a small trash can is an easy way to encourage a mouse to jump inside. Stagger a stack of books along one side of the bin so that the mouse can enter. Once inside, he’ll be unable to jump back out.

After the mouse is trapped, place a towel over the top to keep it calm, and then release the animal within 100 yards of the trapping site. Taking mice further away often results in their deaths, as they’re unfamiliar with the area and less likely to find food and water sources quickly. 

* Remember to check the trap regularly, as these traps can cause mice distress and dehydration within only a few hours. When unable to check traps at this rate, clean them with a mild bleaching solution, which rids the trap of lingering food scents and discourages mice from entering.

Mice are intelligent, gentle and often very clean animals that simply aren’t the threat that humans typically perceive them to be. Utilizing kind measures to keep them outside of your home is an ideal way of respecting these creatures and showing them needed compassion. 

Image by Mark Bray


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.