Dear PoPville – Dealing with a Mice Problem

Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80

“Dear PoPville,

I need some guidance and hoping your readers can steer me in the right direction. I’ve been having a small mice problem in my apartment and have reported the problem to my rental agency multiple times; over the course of a couple of months. They finally had a pest control company come out a couple of weeks ago (after I’ve kept bugging them) but it didn’t seem to do anything – the man put down some poison powder and a couple of glue traps. I’m getting increasingly frustrated but don’t know what I can really do except keep bugging my rental agency.

If you’ve been in the same or similar situation, what did you do?”

You are def. not alone.

57 Comment

  • Get a cat. If your building doesn’t allow pets, borrow a friend’s cat for few weeks. It’s the only sure-fire, fool-proof, eco-friendly method.

    • Seriously. I hate my french girlfriend’s cat, but when she catches mice, it makes it all worth while.

      • I am kind of wondering what the nationality of your gf has to do with anything.

        • What does it NOT have to do with anything?

        • You know you wish you had a French girlfriend. I do.

          • I’ve had multiple french GF. A by product of a year abroad in college. They all shared some similar qualities.

            A stereotypical cultural view of lack of “grooming”.
            An apparent allergy to deodorant, shocking considering they were all physically low 9’s on the physical hotness scale.
            And lastly, a complete and utter lack of individuality. Every decision about every aspect of their lives had to be made by me, from what socks to wear to what to get their parents for their birthdays.

            But if the persons point was to simply brag that he had a french gf in a passive aggressive manner, then he is right on par with those insufferable d-bags who drive around for weeks in their expensive new car with the price tag still in the window.

            Oh, and next time, find a Swede to date. They are generally a couple notches above the french on the “those who I have to date before I die” list.

          • austindc

            Okay okay, yes, we have all had “French girlfriends” and like we have explained over and over the reason you never met her was because it was expensive to come visit and we couldn’t skype because she lives on a vineyard where they don’t have internet, but she’s totally real and does part time modeling for a french magazine, but I don’t have a copy because they don’t distribute here. But this is her cat and it kills mice.

        • He’s probably just trying to distinguish the French girlfriend from the American girlfriend and the Norwegian girlfriend. They don’t have cats.

        • I just knew this was going to be fun! Extra fun – my captcha is F2VD. . .

      • “French girlfriend” here 🙂 Just to confuse everyone – I am not actually french.

        The cat (while admittedly somewhat of a pain) is certainly helpful with the odd mouse such that we’ve never seen one alive in our current house. I think it brings her back to her glory years living on my family’s farm prowling the barn….. She’s definitely much more helpful and less work than our dog (who is one of the dumbest albeit cute creatures around).

        ¢hris – can you please just get over your hiccup with the word “fiancée” already? no one understands your “french girlfriend” reference except me. I can’t help wondering what crazy saying are you going to do in twelve months when you have to start saying “wife”? lol 🙂

    • +1 on the cat. We had mice only once, but our cat played with them to death. Earned her keep that day.

    • BEST solution…a cat but make sure to remove the poison and traps! I’ve heard that a dog works as well.

      Humane Society is waiving adoption fees this weekend (:

  • Definitely feel your pain. Especially as the nights get cooler, the mice love a toasty warm apartment. We ended up getting a cat to keep them away (were the only ones without them in our building and the only ones with a mouse problem) but if that’s not an option, load up on mouse traps and peanut butter and the poison pellet trays. You can get both at any hardware store.

    From my experience dealing with landlords / management cos. on this, it’s worth just spending around $20 on more aggressive traps and poison. Also put anything sweet or nutty in the fridge for a while – mice managed to squeeze into our pantry and feasted on anything they could chomp through. If you can try and cut off their food supply, they may go elsewhere…good luck!

  • I once bought one of those sonic repellent devices because I was fed up. It worked but apparently over time the mice care less and less about the noise and start coming back.

    Whatever, I was gone by then. Let the next tenant deal with it.

  • I had some mice in my apartment. I originally tried old fashioned snap traps, every day, the peanut-butter was gone and the trap was not sprung. I got a “humane” trap and it worked even worse. A friend of mine finally lent me the electronic trap linked below, It costs a few dollars, but it worked, I got a mouse every nite for a week and haven’t seen one in months. At one point I saw them so often that I got killed one by hand with a dumbbell. Remember, mice have poor vision which is why the dun along walls, so place the trap along a wall and they will run in.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    Second get a cat — no adoption fees at WARL or WHS on cats over 6 months old. If the landlord complains tell them you are protecting their property. Mice may be tiny but they can cause a huge amount of destruction, which often goes undetected.

  • You might want to poke around to see if you can figure out where they chewed through the wall. We had mice for a few months, and the exterminator found the hole (under the rubber baseboard in our kitchen, so it was pretty well hidden). Once you know the source, they might be more likely to send somebody over to fix it.

  • Emmaleigh504

    Mice are just another reason to hate winter. They come into my building when it gets cold. Much to my horror my cat thrills at catching them. I’m convinced she actually makes holes in the wall to lure them into my apartment for her fun and games.

    Seriously, get a cat and don’t leave anything remotely edible unsealed. ALL my food goes in the fridge.

  • Ultrasonic repellent devices are useless (or close to it).

    Any food not in the fridge needs to be in a sealed, un-gnawable container. (E.g., cereal boxes… either pour your cereal into a sealable Tupperware-type thing, or keep it in the fridge.)

    I’ve had only one mouse in my house (whereas I’ve been dealing with a more significant rat problem outdoors), but from friends who’ve had mice, I’ve heard that sometimes the mice are too smart to be caught by snap traps or glue traps. One friend swore by an electronic zapper; if I ever had mice indoors, that’s probably what I’d try first.

    Putting steel wool to block any possible entrance holes/crevices (both on the outside of the building and inside, like where pipes enter) is a good idea.

  • Besides a cat’s ability to catch the mice (and joy in doing so); mice, rats, and other pests will generally stay away from a place where they know a cat is living.

  • You just need an empty trash can, peanut butter, and a paper towel tube.

  • We had a mouse problem in our house when we had a cat and the cat was useless. The cat was good at alerting us to the fact that there were mice, but other than that his biggest talent was waking us up with live mice in his mouth, wounding the mouse so that it would bleed all over the floor, and then letting it get away. Also, here is the other thing about cats: they are the worst.
    We had a company come out that left bait stations (not sure if this works in apartments as well as houses) and that seemed to clear it up. Before that, we also had the traps where you put in peanut butter and twist the contraption, and when it kills the mouse you don’t have to see it. We did catch a few with those.

  • If you’re allergic to or can’t get a cat, put every bit of food you can think of in plastic containers to cut off their food supply. Then get those Ortho Press N’ Set traps or Max Kill and Secure traps. I put them down one year and haven’t had problems since.

  • Had this problem, too. Cutting off their food supply will force them to eat from the traps or poison pellet trays. Do your best to find out what they are feeding on. Good advice to secure all of your perishables in containers.

    I found the glue traps to be worthless; they only yielded a roach and a house centipede but no mice. Don’t bother with those.

  • In my last house I constantly had mice. I killed a ton of them with snap traps, but they just kept coming. Finally, my landlord hired Terminix, and they spent several hours patching holes with steel wool and that foam stuff. A few more corpses in the snap traps and my mouse problem had ended.

    In my current house, I have a cat, and have only seen one mouse (which she caught and refused to kill. The little sadist just kept playing with it until I put it out of its misery). I do have a large colony of rats living outside, but i poison them, and thankfully haven’t seen any evidence of them in the house.

    • Forgot to mention that the first exterminator at the old place wanted to use glue traps, but I dislike having to kill them myself, so I switched to snaps. I only had one non-fatal catch with the snap traps.

  • Put all of your food in tupperware if it’s not canned or in the fridge. Mice are surprisingly adept climbers (I discovered) so just because it’s up on a shelf doesn’t mean they won’t get to it.

    The glue traps are not that effective and unless you’re a budding psychopath it’s really traumatic to see/hear a living mouse trying to rip its skin off to get out of a glue trap.

    You need lots and lots and lots of snap traps. Bait them with peanut butter or, if you can find/make it, a peanut butter & chocolate mix. Try to figure out where the mice are coming from and set them along there. It will probably take a few days, the mice will be extra-skittish when the traps are new. If they find a way to eat the bait without tripping the trap, just keep setting it. They’ll get unlucky eventually.

    Hang in there. It’s an old city so unless you live in a high rise, have a cat, or live near a bunch of alley cats (my current situation, thank the gods), you may never be 100% mouse-less.

  • Give any dead or maimed mice to your landlord in a cardboard box. That should help.

  • I feel your pain. Agree with the comment about finding out where they are coming in. Mine were coming in around the gas pipe under my stove. Move your stove and refrigerator and check there. Also around radiator pipes. Seal anything, no matter how small. Best of luck.

  • Poisons and glue traps are inhumane and relatively ineffective. I have a mouse problem as well, and with some tips from the Humane Society, was able to get it under control. Here’s their helpful page about it:

  • I’m wondering if the OP lives in an Archstone building. I live in one in Van Ness, and I’ve had two mice in the last four months. The building management has been pretty worthless about the whole thing.

  • A friend of mine who used to work in a hippie food co-op said that mice hate the smell of peppermint, so they would put down cotton balls soaked in peppermint extract in their storage areas. No idea if this really works, but I’ve always liked the idea.

    (I have always had good hunting cats, so never had to try this out.)

  • Getting rid of mice is not easy:
    Keep calling the exterminator to come back. They are under contract with your building for a reason. It is a process of killing the mice you have and then getting rid of them filling holes, finding holes and filling them. You have to find the entry point and close it up, as PP said with steel wool or filler. You have to investigate and be proactive and vigilant or you will continue to have mice. That means moving everything out of closets and around baseboards to take a peek. If you still have mice, you have another entry point. Which could even be a crack under your door into the hall. or a newly chewed hole in the wall. . .
    You also as PP said, must put everything in a plastic container if it is not in an aluminum can or in the frig. Everything.

    • Mine prefered things like my kid’s art projects and my new pantry frame. We locked down our food and they didn’t care. I’ll see them in hell

  • Did anyone else think of the Monty Python “Mouse Problem” sketch when they first saw this post? 🙂

  • The exterminator needs to keep coming back. He also needs to figure out where the mice are coming into the building. It’s a process. You might also consider visiting a DC tenant law clinic. They may have good strategies for getting a landlord to do things. But it doesn’t sound like you are there yet. Be persistent.

  • I made my kitchen cabinets into a steel wool fortress two years ago and haven’t seen a mouse since. Basically, any gaps in your cabinets, like where the plumbing passes through, should be stuffed with steel wool to keep them out.

  • I had great success with the Victor electronic trap, which baits with a drop of pb, shocks upon contact, and drops into a convenient disposal tray. They have single and multi-kill units, and I went for the multi so I wouldn’t be limited to a single kill. Cleared out 4 mice in about a week but no double kills – so maybe the more cost effective single kill option would have been fine.

    I tried a bunch of useless humane options short of a cat (allergies), and the closer they got to my young child’s stuff and space the less compassionate I got. I found this the most BS-free option. And it worked well. Good luck

  • I’d just like to point out one thing, and that is that steel wool is extremely flammable.

    It’s probably not a good idea to put it up against anything hot.

  • “French girlfriend” -> hysterical!

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