House in the woods has mice. Are removal efforts futile?

We have a nice house nestled in the middle of five acres of heavy woods. It’s such a nice house that lots of mice have decided to make it their home. It’s been like this pretty much since we moved in about five or six years ago. The only signs we have are the frequent scurrying we hear in the walls, the rare sightings of them as the flit from one basement rafter to the next, finding droppings inside some insulation, and OMG THE HALF-EATEN CORPSES THAT OUR CATS LEAVE LYING AROUND!:eek:


We have three cats, two adopted at kittenhood so they do little more than bat the mice around and play. We had lots of luck distracting them and scooping the live mice outside until Flo’Lrr came. He showed up one day, lived in our yard for six months or so (subsisting on chipmunks, moles, horses, etc.) before a winter moved in and we gave him a home. He’s the one that decimated our W/L percentage; he’s well fed but boy he loves those mousy treats!

Aside from corpses (and the possible influx of bartonella or other illnesses to the house), we lost a phone jack in one room. The tech who was out suggested it was likely mice chewing through a line (fortunately we don’t need a phone there).

Oh, did I mention droppings? Blech.


So now what? We’re namby-pamby city folk who don’t have it in them to set kill-o-matic traps (mice are cute, especially when compared to NYC rats). When we do catch and release, it’s about 100’ or so outside, across the driveway, and into the woods a bit. Are the mouse laughing their laughs and finding their way right back in?

Other than one-off methods, are their whole-house things we can do? Say, jack up the internal pressure inside the walls and comically shoot the mice out exterior cracks?

If we call an exterminator, will he just set out traps (an interesting proposition with three cats and a toddler) or do professionals have access to some sort of mouse-a-way gadgetry?

And the futile bit—we’re in the* woods*. If we get rid of one cohort, won’t another one just move right in a week later? Or is it possible to have a mouse-less house in the woods?

What do country folk* do*?

We used to have a cottage in the woods in west-central Wisconsin. Mice were a chronic problem, especially in the winter. As they’re capable of fitting through very tiny holes, I think trying to mouse-proof a house will be nearly impossible.

Live trapping the mice and putting them outside is a mere inconvenience to them. They’ll pop right back inside.

Mice also breed rapidly so you need to decrease their population faster than they can increase it. So yeah, that means traps and lots of them.

And, most importantly, you need to find out how they’re getting in and stop it. This is where an exterminator might come in handy.

Live trapping is meaningless, especially if you’re dropping them 100 feet away. Maybe a few miles away, but then you’re in the business of regularly transporting dozens of mice miles away in your car or whatever.

You need to use kill traps and make sure they have no easy food sources to kill the mice off. I’ve seen rat/mice successfully removed from a residence (or at least to the point no one notices them and thus does not complain) by simple trapping combined with some powder-based poison spread in certain areas (don’t do this if you have cats.)

However if a house is truly “infested” I’ve never seen them cleared out totally by such methods, in those cases professional exterminators are needed.

So rescued mice are just looking about, getting their bearings, noticing the big heated structure a short scramble away and heading in?

Can I build a sufficiently powered pneumatic mouse cannon with materials from Home Depot?

The whole mouse-hole needing to be no bigger than a dime for them to get back in is what makes me discount the likelihood of successfully sealing them off. The house isn’t old (build in 2003), but short of coating it in silicone I can’t see hitting every crack. Or is that actually possible in a house this young?

There’s no way for us to determine how infested we are–one mouse can sound like an army if its busy enough. Plus, now that we know we’ve had a revolving door policy, it could be one mouse over and over again.

So it sounds like we’ll need to bring in a professional, what, once a year? Every few? Does Wallace and Grommit work this side of the Atlantic? I generally like their methods.

Forget the expense of an exterminator and go to the local farm and garden store and get Just One Bite rat poison. I put it outside/under the house when ever I see mouse/rat signs. I live in an old house on the edge of forest land and usually put it out when the weather turns cold in the fall and maybe once more mid-winter.

If you are squeemish about killing them, you are never going to see them, they will go outside and die. All you will be aware of is that your problem went away.

And we have a family cat that we absolutely adore, cats will not eat the stuff.

What I’d like to know is how mice get into the DISHWASHER. We were noticing a bad smell in the kitchen during cold blustery weather and finally figured out what it was when we found the droppings in the dishwasher. Apparently, we were regularly washing mice along with our dishes and remains were going down the drain and “scenting” our kitchen by way of the vents. We caught five of them in the dishwasher with traps.

I do dishes by hand now and miraculously, the smell hasn’t recurred. Yes, we were suitably GROSSED OUT!

I suggest a diligent, meticulous search for their entrance. Once found, think metal flashing rather than silicone. Perhaps use silicone to stick it in place. Cut holes in little squares to go around pipes. Maybe even use the draft locating smoke techniques. Where mice come in, so does cold air. Also moisture in the summer. Screen any open drains.

I was going to suggest a barn cat, but it looks like you already have one. Yeah, the mice just march right into your nice, warm house from outside - they’ll come in any opening they can find, including your front door. I agree with the advice to try to mouse-proof your house as much as you can, put down traps, and let your cats do what they do.

The horror of the smell is only balanced by the awesome image of a mouse shouting “yyyiiiippppppppppEEEEEEEEEEEEEE” as he rode the final wave. Doesn’t someone here use a sig similar to: one shouldn’t leave a pretty corpse, one should aim to skid in sideways, chocolate and a glass of Scotch in hand screaming what a ride! (actual quote and proper accreditation would be appreciated)

If we go the poison route, how do we avoid ending up with little wall-corpses? Won’t the mummify? Freak out whoever goes to open the sheetrock? Or will the insulated environment of the wall lead to decomposition and putrification on par with pohjonen’s dishwasher? And if they do stumble out of the walls in their dying moment, what happens to the cat who decides to dine on the easy-peasy-mousy-treaty?

Silly as it is, we can’t stand the idea of poisoning them (seems so evil), and glue traps are right out (unless we can drive them down the hill, apply solvent, pack them a lunch and see them off). Maybe decamp for the weekend and flood the house with carbon monoxide? Man I sometimes hate the tendency to anthropomorphize everything.

And if new mousies are just going to come back, is there any point to periodically culling the herd? Are the current residents keeping interlopers at bay? Could someday (in 20-30 years) our walls burst open in a flood of mouse corpses?

I’ve occasionally had mouse problems (we also live on several wooded acres.)

I use a trap like this, only I use an empty soda can instead of the paper plate. But same kind of idea.

We also make sure any cracks/vents/etc are sealed off and/or mouse proof. So far it’s worked. I don’t think that living in the woods means that you have to also live with mice.

Starve your cats and they’ll catch more mice. (Just kidding).

I would not use poisoned bait out of doors or anywhere your cats can get the resulting corpses. Who knows how affected a subsequent predator (fox, owl, coyote) is if it eats a mouse that died of poisoning? And how can you limit the menu to only mice out of doors?

OTOH, if you hate all animals, including foxes, owls, coyotes and other cute little critters, go right ahead. Adopt a scortched-earth policy. But remember, it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

Otherwise, I agree with Cat Whisperer – diligently search for entry points and plug them. You will also benefit from the inscreased insulation and fewer air holes for heat loss.

I had to use a mirror to look at some parts of my house and find tiny holes. Use a hand mirror or even a dentist’s mirror, and leave no part unexplored.

More likely, the mouse corpses will have been reduced to bones and fur. Insects and bacteria eventually attack dead bodies and munch on everything else. The only good thing is the smell is gone when they are finished – it’s the intermediate stages that stink.

We had a mouse infestation. Our property is out in the middle of NOWHERE, in NE AZ. The best solution is to FIND the entry points. Typically, this is where the pipes enter the house. You gotta buy a fine-grade of steel wool and pack it around the pipes. Use a knife or a thin flat blade screwdriver, and cram-cram-cram. You CAN find all the entry points, but it might take a while.

Also check your furnace, ductwork, and vents.

Before we got completely settled into our house, it was vacant for a good while and the damned things moved in. I swear, they sent out fliers to the entire Four Corners area, saying, “Party! Party! Party!”

Hubster is cold-hearted enough to use traps and empty them. That’s not part of my contract. He was good about it. Seal up the holes, trap the ones that are left inside, and you’ll be fine.

Mouser cats are wonderful. We have two cats. One doesn’t even CARE about mice; the other one surprised us with his expertise. He doesn’t eat them, he parades them around the house so we know what a good boy he is. I swear, he did the model’s walk down the runway, with a slow turn and pivot, and then pranced away. A showoff. I make sure he is praised to the skies.

Don’t waste your compassion on mice. Really. They are VERMIN.

And, particularly in your area (NE AZ), they have been a carrier for a fairly nasty disease.

You have to maintain a constant battle. Seal up all means of entrance as best as possible. Keep cats. Use lethal traps. Use poison in the walls. Stuff steel wool into holes before sealing with metal flashing. Cut the heads off of dead mice and mount them on little stakes around the property. Avert your attention for a moment and they will be back.

Expanding foam is your friend. And stainless steel, too!

But if you’re not willing to kill them, then your only choice it to get used to them, it seems to me.

Have you thought of investing in several of those thingys that drive them off with sound? I think they are electric.

Worthless. At least it doesn’t stop squirrels, who chew right through it. I doubt if it stops determined mice.

Also worthless. There’s no evidence that they do anything except lighten your wallet and run up your electric bill.

What shall we use to fill the empty spaces where waves of mices explore?
Shall we set out across this sea of feces in search of more and more mouseholes?
What shall we do now?

Electronic noise?
Shall we buy a new guitar?

Run them over?
Shall we drive a more powerful car?

Keep at it diligently?
Shall we work straight through the night?

Stalk them ourselves?
Shall we get into fights?

Keep them afraid?
Leave the lights on?

Tent the house and fumigate?
Drop bombs?

Examine oriental pest-control techniques?
Do tours of the east?

Go after them with biological weapons?
Contract disease?

Leave their corpses in the walls?
Bury bones?

Dig them out of the sheetrock whenever we smell them?
Break up homes?

Find some sort of herbal remedy to deter them?
Send flowers by phone?

Let everything go to hell and just get pickled?
Take to drink?

Deal with the psychological aftermath of mass killing?
Go to shrinks?

Clean the house out of any potential food source?
Give up meat?

Stay up all night to keep them at bay?
Rarely sleep?
What madness will it lead to?
*Keeping people as pets?
Training dogs?
Raising rats?
Filling the attic with cash?
Burying treasure?
Storing up leisure?
But never relaxing at all…
With our backs to the wall!


Yes, yes it is. So are tightly-sealing plastic containers for the kitchen. Seal ALL FOOD.