The Mice Battle Me vs. Them

I have mice. No one WANTS mice, it’s hard to admit it, yet here I am, battling mice. I want to say I have a mouse, because having one mouse sounds better than saying I have mice, but even I can’t convince myself of this anymore, since I saw two in my kitchen at the same time.

This battle has been going on for a couple of months now. I feel as if I am becoming a mouse expert with all of the research I have been doing. The one thing I have learned….there is no fool proof way to get rid of mice!

It all started a couple of months ago when I saw a mouse run along the wall of my living room. I started looking around and discovered they had found my open bag of dog food in my downstairs office. I had taken in a friend’s dog for a short time and I fed him in there. Never once thought about the bag of dog food being mouse heaven. I called a friend to ask for help. I hate killing living creatures so the thought was to catch & release like we had done one other time. This mouse was FAST and smart. He wasn’t having it.

I went out and bought a live trap from Wal-Mart. I was confident I was going to catch this mouse and all would be right in my world again.

I had caught the mouse! I was so happy. Seeing as how I freak out over the little creatures, I called on yet another friend to release it for me far, far away. I moved the dog food to a plastic bin. I had my house back! Yes!

Or so I thought. When my friend came back with the trap, it was in a couple of pieces (it had fallen apart as he was releasing them) and he said he had to was it. Wash it??? What??? He informed me I had caught two, not one and they had made a mess in the trap. My instant thought….NO WAY. The live trap has to go! I know it seems ridiculous but I did not want to have to keep cleaning this trap and putting it back together. I told him to just throw it away.

As I rounded the corner of my house, I screamed. It wasn’t a blood curdling, someone is trying to murder me scream, but it was a scream none the less. Sitting on TOP of my plastic dog food bin I had JUST put dog food in about an hour ago were three – four baby mice and one down on the floor! Since math WAS a strong subject, I could put it all together. Four or more baby mice plus two captured equals a big problem!

I scoured the Internet. I found out peppermint oil is supposed to repel mice. When I couldn’t find Peppermint Oil at the Wal-Mart I was at, a quick search helped me find a recipe of warm water, crushed Altoids, and dish detergent.

I loaded up on mousetraps. Not the live ones this time. When it was just a visitor passing through, I was ok with the catch & release. When they are so comfortable in my home they have a tea party, out in the open, they overstayed their welcome and need to be gone by any means necessary. Still being a squeamish baby about them, I bought the type you can’t see them in. I wanted to kill them, throw the trap away, and set out a new one. I did not want to have to see a dead mouse, I did not want to have to touch anything. I did not want the mice in my home anymore.

I chose those traps over the glue because I’m still humane, I didn’t want to have a mouse suffer a slow death. I didn’t want to SEE the mouse. Most importantly, I have two dogs of my own plus the additional one at that time, one of mine being a Jack Russell, I did not want the mouse to become a toy. Those were the reasons for not getting the poison bait. If they had to die, I wanted it to be in the most humane way possible.

Coming home, I set the traps with peanut butter and went to work making my Altoids / water / dish soap mixture. I sprayed EVERYWHERE. At every door, around my pantry, anyplace I could think of. My goal was to keep the mice confined to the two rooms I had seen them in and kill them. I’ll admit, a small part of me hoped they would be so repelled by the peppermint oil they would run fleeing from my home, never to return. We all know THAT didn’t happen. Surprisingly, the peppermint spray appeared to be working for a short time. I sprayed almost daily under the doors of the rooms I was trying to keep them in. I even saw one mouse start to run under the door, stop half way, and acted almost like he was having a seizure of some kind. A SMART person would have used that opportunity to capture it, a freaked out person like myself swatted at him with a broom and ended up pushing him back through the door where he scampered off, leading me to believe the peppermint spray was working in some aspects. The traps were also working slowly. I was throwing one away daily (I had three set in the room). With the help of a friend not scared of the mice, we found their dog food stash (mice can move quite a bit of product) and vacuumed it all up.

With their food supply gone and the spray forcing them to stay in those two rooms, I honestly believe I could have gotten a handle on them….but….I went out of town for a week. No daily sprays meant they were able to venture out. Sure enough, I came home to discover they were in my kitchen. My heart sank. It made me nauseous to think they were in my kitchen. I mean that literally. Whenever I would see a trace of them, I would get physically ill.

Phone call to the same friend (Thank GOD for great friends) and she came over to help me clean my pantry and look for the mouse. We took everything out, wiped down everything with Clorox wipes, threw away everything even remotely having the appearance of a mouse being near it, placed Altoids on the shelves, and put it back in order. I have since switched everything to Oxo canisters so they are air tight. I set a trap on the floor of the pantry and then sprayed the doorway with my spray. I figured, if the spray kept them away, GREAT, if one breached, the trap would catch them before they made it up to the shelves. The trap didn’t go off for over 6 weeks and no signs of any mice on the shelves, so it has worked somewhat.

Now we are up to today. I was out of town for Christmas and sadly, I came home to mice taking up residence in my stove. Yes, my stove! Another phone call (she really should start charging me) and we begin the process of Operation Stove Removal only to discover I have a weird stove and we can not access the area between the stove top and the oven. We googled

****Funny story interjection****
As I was writing this, I kept hearing a noise in my kitchen. I would get up, turn the light on, and would see a scurry back into the stove opening. This happened three times. The fourth time I heard something, I had my eye focused directly in the area it was coming from and I see the mouse briefly on my microwave. I take a couple deep breaths to avoid freaking out and go investigate. Apparently I had received a sample of dog food, the kind in the tubes, and put it up on my microwave. I have no idea how long it had been there (it was in a decorative glass) but the mouse found it. There was a good chunk of it gone. It is thrown away, microwave cleaned off, disinfected, and the dishes on it have been washed. Back to my writing! ***********

As I was saying, we even Googled how to tear the stove apart. No luck. The stove is mounted into my counter top. The space between the stove top and the oven has a couple small holes. Through those holes, we can see insulation, but no way to access it easily. I made the decision to NOT tear it out. I decided to try other measures first. FYI, if you are thinking, hey, just turn the stove on, it didn’t work. Research says they just run somewhere else and return when it’s cooled down again.

After messing with the stove, I did kill one more mouse but it appears they are getting smarter or more adventurous. Back to the Internet for more research.

I found a product called Fresh Cab. It is supposed to be a rodent repellant. Another “natural” product. The reviews were pretty favorable except in situations where the rodents already exist. Upon doing more research, I discovered some possible reasons why that might me, and decided to try it. Amazon had it cheaper but Tractor Supply had it in stock, so off to TSC I went. I bought 2 boxes equalling 8 pouches. I opened them, read the instructions, dated them, and then set out strategically placing them around the house. It was very clear in the instructions NOT to place them near traps. I’m not a fan of the pine scent, but if they work, I’ll live with it.

Ironically, the mouse eating the tube of dog food I mentioned was found less than a foot from where I placed the first pouch of Fresh Cab. Had I not done my research, I would have thought it didn’t work and thrown them away and sent for my money (They have a money back guarantee) but I am not giving up on it yet because
1. I read it is not a repellant like Peppermint Oil is supposed to be. It is a detractor. It is supposed to mess with the mouse’s sense of smell, making them think there is no food available.
2. Mice have weird memories, that is why they say to keep putting traps in the same area. If they KNOW a path leads to food, they will keep following it. With that in mind, the mouse clearly had been chomping on this tube for a few days, so his sense of memory was more powerful than the Fresh Cab (in theory).

I placed the Fresh Cab in one area, the traps with the yummy peanut butter in another direction, so they would be compelled to head towards the trap.

Another thing I have done is throw one or two chopped pecan pieces around the trap. Knowing about their memory, I figured, if they have one or two easy ones to access, they will come back and get the “bait” next and the trap will kill them.

One interesting observation is the Altoids. My first tin I opened and used seemed to work great. I never saw a mouse near anything I had an Altoid sitting on or near. They didn’t seem to go near any areas I sprayed. This new tin I opened I cannot say the same. I even think the mice are carrying the Altoids pieces away! I don’t know if this second tin used less peppermint oil in the manufacturing or not, but I find it strange.

I have not tried the 100% peppermint oil that so many people mention. The Wal-Mart I went to did not have any in stock. I looked today and it appears the one I am heading to has some in stock. I am going to try an experiment with it and will post the results.

I have contacted a company about coming out and looking for the areas in my home the mice may be getting in. It is $159 but considering how much I have already spent on traps, Fresh Cab, Altoids, and soon Peppermint Oil, it might be worth it. Not to mention all the pantry items I had to throw away. At least my house is getting clean an organized!

After all this, the bottom line is mice are a pain in the butt! It is not a simple fix. It takes time and diligence.

If you can stand the sight of the dead mouse and you don’t mind reusing the trap, the wooden traps are the least expensive. If you are a big baby like myself, there are some affordable alternatives. One key is to make sure to have the opening right near the wall so they run in as they are running along the wall.

The cheapest one is D-Con No Touch No View Mousetrap. Less than $5 for a two pack at Wal-Mart


PROS: Inexpensive, Easy to use, easy to see the indicator

CONS: The indicator sometimes doesn’t work. (If it wasn’t clear & the
door was closed, I threw it away) Round (didn’t always fit in tighter areas) Slippery on hard floors so you had to take more care placing them.

Another trap I used and had a quick results is Victor Kill & Seal Mouse Trap About $10 for a 2 pack


PROS: Easy to use, easy to load bait, shape fits easily against wall, Blends in well against lighter colored baseboards

CONS: More Expensive. If bumped, a little difficult to reset

The third one I used is Ortho Home Defense Max Kill and Contain Mouse Trap. About $8 for a pack of 2


PROS: extremely narrow, will fit in tighter areas. Easy to load bait. Easy to set first time.

CONS: Haven’t caught a mouse in it yet. My dog seemed fascinated with it. Difficult to reset if it gets bumped. Messy if bumped (bait sorta falls everywhere, then out when you pick it up to reset).

I have caught the most mice with the first one, but to be fair, I have purchased them the most. My thought is, if they are the cheapest, no harder to use, and work, go with them.

As for bait, peanut butter seems to work well. I but the great value kind to give my dog his medicine with, so I’ve been using that. Chopped pecans also work. Ironically, Ole Roy dog food works well. My dogs eat Acana and Earthborn…using that as bait didn’t get the same results. I’m guessing it is because they are both grain free. Any type of seed, grain, or nut appear to yield the best results.

I hope I have helped the next person battling mice to not have to go digging around multiple days to get all the different information I was able to compile over time!

Good luck!