Mice are just one of the many pests in Hawaii, here's how to avoid them and to deal with them if you get one in your house.
General: DIY / How-To
|Guide Series: Hawaii Dangers
As I've talked about in our Hawaii Living: Pests & Traffic article, not everything in Hawaii is blue skies and perfect waves. Hawaii has its share of problems and one of those is pests, and specifically for this article we'll talk about mice.
Mice can show up pretty much anywhere, any time but we've seen a lot more mice than usual in the 2015-2016 years which may be due to El Nino In Hawaii. Things are hotter than usual and the mice might be moving from one area to another in search of water.
Why Mice Are So Bad
You don't want these little guys taking of residence in for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is that, according to the CDC, rodents are great for bringing diseases to your home, family, and pets.
They can also chew through just about anything, which includes electric wires, PVC pipes, cardboard, plastic bins, drywall, and just about anything else that's in your house or that your house is made of. It's pretty amazing that such a tiny creature can do so much damage.
As if that wasn't enough, these furry animals also tend to poop just about everywhere and eventually they'll die. They may die in your walls, attic, etc. As with everything that dies, they rot and that can lead to some nasty smells that may be very difficult to find and remove. Rotting may also attract other unwanted creatures. Oh, the circle of life in action!
How To Avoid Mice
There are many things you can do to make your home less mouse-friendly. The less mouse-friendly your place is, the more likely they are to move on to another place that is more mouse-friendly. The best part is that these tips will also help reduce most other unwanted visitors (ants, roaches, and so on).
This should always be common sense but you need to keep a clean house. Don't leave food out on counters and clean up crumbs after you eat. Food should be sealed well, or temporarily store food in the fridge if it can't be sealed. Think those Rubbermaid style plastic bins will keep mice out? Think again, they'll chew through it in no time. Use glass or thick plexi-style plastic containers whenever possible. Mason jars are great for storing flour, sugar, pasta, and many other things.
Like all living creatures that want to live in your house, mice need water. They love leaky pipes and wet areas. So dry things up, repair leaky pipes and dripping faucets.
It's virtually impossible to completely seal a house so that no critters can come in. I've tried. But you can certainly seal up many places to make it more difficult for mother nature to pay you an inside visit. Caulk and expanding foam are your best friends here.
A mouse can fit in a space that is about 1/4 in diameter, about the thickness of a pencil! You won't believe it until you see one disappear in a tiny hole. Caulk or shoot expanding foam under sinks where the pipes go into the wall. Same for toilets. Just slide the escutcheon (the thing around the pipe that covers the hole into the wall) away from the wall, fill in the gaps, and push the escutcheon back to cover your mess.
I had a mouse coming in behind my washing machine, where the drain hose goes into the wall. I filled it with expanding foam. I also have a pipe of wires (cable TV, etc) that runs from a wiring closet in my house out to the cable box. That pipe was basically a fully protected mouse highway. A little expanding foam seals it off.
Do the same around doors and windows and check roof and attic areas as well. Hiring a professional for roof work may be money well spent.
Get Things Off The Ground
If you have piles of stuff/junk in your house, garage, or yard you are basically making a luxury rodent resort. Get things off the ground and get it organized. Toss anything you don't need to keep.
How To Trap A Mouse
If you have a mouse problem you have to get rid of them. This either means that you're going to deal with catching them or you're going to hire a professional to do the job.
If you have a real problem you need to call a pro before it gets any worse. And even if you think you are only seeing one mouse, there's probably more. But maybe that isn't an option or maybe you can't get somebody out right away or maybe you called a pro but want to go above and beyond.
Here's how you catch a mouse: use a mouse trap. Simple, right? Only they're not all the same and they don't always work. I've tried several different types, here's what I found:
Classic Spring Traps
This is classic Tom & Jerry stuff. You know the type, put cheese or peanut butter on the trap and pull the spring back to set it. Catch a finger in it and you'll be crying for days. Do they work? Sometimes but they're dangerous if you have kids or pets. They may also "splatter" a bit if they catch a mouse.
Press & Set Style
These are also a spring loaded trap but the spring isn't the type that will break a finger and shouldn't harm most pets. Do they work? Not for me. I've tried cheese, peanut butter, and other baits and never caught a mouse with one. Ever. But, I did often feed the mice who had no trouble in eating the bait and walking away.
Do poisons work? Well, yes, of course! But the cons outweigh the pros. First off, what else is being harmed with a poison? Kids? Animals? Helpful insects? Second, if you poison something and then it goes back to it's home (in your attic, wall, etc) and dies you now have a rotting rodent in your house. Somewhere. No thanks.
You may have seen these online. Grab a five gallon bucket, fill half way with water, make a ramp up to the top, thread an empty soda can on a string so it hovers over the water. Now put peanut butter on the can and when the mouse goes for it the can will rotate and the mouse takes a deadly swim. I tried this and had zero luck with it, others swear by it. Still, it's a pain and you have wet and dead mice to deal with if it actually worked. Messy.
WINNER - Glue Traps
These are small traps (size of an index card) that are covered in a sticky gel-like glue. If you get your finger in it you'll pull it right out without any problem, but if a mouse walks on it they're done for. The more they struggle the more stuck they get. It's mouse quicksand. Put them along baseboards where you think mice are walking by and wait.
For me, these work great and I've caught mice (literally) in minutes with them. I had a couple of mice get in the house and this was the only thing that worked. Since then I had a few in the garage and it catches them every time.
NOTE: While this is my preferred option it's a little gory because the mouse will get stuck but still needs to be dealt with. Sure, you could toss it in the trash but that's not at all humane. I take a few paper towels, cover the poor guy up (so there is no mess), and give it's head a whack with a hammer. It's over quick. The key is to check these traps often so the mouse isn't stuck for days on end. Catch it and kill it quickly.
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