A mouse in the house seems harmless at first

Written by Chrissy Hansen, Bird-X Blogger

I write about pest control for a living, so I have described mice and rats and the problems they cause in detail many times.  But it became a whole different story when there was a mouse in MY house.

A few months ago I was sitting watching television, when out of the corner of my eye I see movement.  I watch in disbelief as a full-grown house mouse runs along the edge of my living room wall and disappears behind a huge shelving unit.  At which point I stand up on my couch like a 6-year-old girl and think, “Eeeek!  What am I going to do?  I can’t live with this thing!  How am I going to walk around here without it scurrying across my feet?”   I am a grown woman.  These are not rational thoughts, but it is initially very upsetting.

First, I think of all the things I know about pest mice:

  • A house mouse can enter the home through even the tiniest crack in the walls or foundation.
  • A house mouse will look for a reliable food source and set up a nest very close by.
  • A house mouse will eat grains, cereals, sweets, etc. – tearing through plastic and gnawing on box edges.
  • A house mouse will contaminate the feeding area with fecal matter, urine and fur, making it dangerous (and disgusting) for you to eat the food.
  • Mice carry diseases such as Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM), and Lyme disease.
  • A female house mouse can have up to ten litters per year…oh boy.

So now I pretty much want to throw every edible item in my home into the nearest trash can.  But that’s not very practical (or affordable).  So I go into cleaning mode.

Removing the Mouse’s Food Source

I live in the first floor unit of a two-flat house in Chicago, and this house is probably about a hundred years old.  So finding every crack in the old wood floors or every sliver of an opening along the crown moldings is probably an exercise in futility.

Instead, I start with the pantry.  I pull down all of the boxes and bags and bins and begin examining.  Bingo.  There is a bin filled with baking goods (flour, sugar, a Baker’s chocolate bar, etc.) and it isn’t quite sealed.  This is the mousey playground I needed to find.  Everything is destroyed.  Boxes are torn open, bags are spilling over – and there are mouse droppings everywhere. This entire bin goes straight to the dumpster outside.

Everything else looks OK.  So I go to the store and purchase several new containers for the rest of my pantry items.  Every bag of pasta, cylinder of oatmeal, and box of rice gets sealed away into an airtight bin.  Canned goods are the only items that remain safe on the shelves.

I feel pretty confident about this new setup.  No more food source, no more mouse.  I mean, it is just ONE mouse right?  Surely I can catch him and that will be the end of it?

Catching the Mouse

Next, I buy some humane traps to catch the mouse.  Granted, a few people tell me these are worthless, but I don’t have the heart or the stomach to set kill traps or glue traps.  So I have these metal cages that (ideally) trap the mouse inside for easy transportation to some happy field a few miles away.  This plan is destined for failure.  I carefully bait the trap with peanut butter, even bacon.  Nothing is working.  This little guy is too darn smart.  A few weeks go by and I think “Well, I only saw the mouse that one time, and I haven’t seen any signs since.  Maybe it went away now that the food is unavailable.”

And that’s when I see Mouse #2.  How do I know it’s not the same mouse? Well, it is much, much smaller.  PURE PANIC MODE.  This is clearly a baby mouse.  They are reproducing in the walls, this house is condemned and I need to move to a small island where mice don’t exist.  Ok, maybe there is a more realistic solution.

Repelling the Mice

Finally, I do what I should have done from the beginning.  I set up a Bird-X Transonic PRO unit in my pantry.  The Transonic PRO is an electronic rodent repellent device.  It uses two speakers to emit sonic (audible) and ultrasonic (nearly silent to humans) sound waves that repel pests indoors.  The sounds are extremely unpleasant to mice, rats and other small critters – disturbing their habitat, interfering with their communication, and disrupting their feeding habits.

The Transonic PRO device can be set very quiet (when I am home and in the kitchen) or quite loud (when I close the pantry door or when I am away).  So I am able to leave the device running nonstop, repelling the mice whether I’m home or not.  It only uses 5 watts which is about the same as the average night light, so power costs are negligible.

Now, since I started using the Transonic PRO, I haven’t had any problems with a single house mouse!  Plus, it is a solution that I can live with.  No traps and no poisons.  No dread of coming home to a mouse in a metal cage.  No flashes of fur while I’m watching TV.  And no more mouse droppings in my food pantry.

Lesson Learned

In retrospect, when I think about the building and location – old house, first floor, unfinished basement below, vegetable garden outside that attracts critters, cold weather approaching – I really wish I would have set up a Transonic PRO before I even saw that first house mouse.  Hindsight…

I’m sure you are asking “How could you wait so long when you work for a pest control provider?”  I don’t know.  Because it was my house.  My personal space.  I didn’t want to accept that it was a serious problem or that it could become a mouse infestation.  There was honestly a point when I thought I hallucinated the first mouse, it was such a split-second sighting.  Looking further into it meant finding the awful evidence. Telling my landlord meant traps and poisons would be everywhere (he actually seems to enjoy killing rats and mice).  Out of sight, out of mind was a temporary (non-existent) solution.

But that’s my point.  Writing about it is one thing, and living it is a totally different story.  Now I hope I can go back to simply researching and writing about pest problems in order to help readers and customers like you.

Dealing with a mouse infestation? We’re here to help.

2 + 1 = ?

17 replies
  1. Alison
    Alison says:

    Yep, I know all about the startle factor! When that shadowy flash of movement catches your eye, it is almost impossible not to shriek and jump — even if rationally you have no fear of the mouse, and you could look at one straight-on without flinching. But when a mouse suddenly darts by out of nowhere, it’s another matter entirely.
    Glad they’re gone! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  2. Deanna
    Deanna says:

    I wish I would have known about this a couple years ago when I had a mouse problem in previous home. The traps are incredibly messy and unpleasant. Thanks for the information, I will go to Bird-x and check it out.

    Reply
  3. Mark
    Mark says:

    Mice are very smart. I was living in an old building on the second floor and occasionally, when everything was very still, whoosh! A little black mouse would dart across the kitchen. Ah-ha! I’d say and try to see where it went. No luck. Now, I’d lie and wait for it to appear again and then follow it back to the nest. Under the sink! Of course! There was a little pile of paper shreds where this mouse lived. He was a very well behaved mouse, the droppings were all in his nest and he only ate food from the floor. There was a housemate vote and we decided to name him “Swarly” in reference to a character on “how I met your mother.” We lived together in harmony until moving day. He was a good mouse.

    Reply
  4. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    This is very well-written and extremely helpful. I just saw a black mouse in my tiny apartment and went through the of thoughts/emotions that you articulate. I prefer not to involve exterminators. I’ll look into the option mentioned here.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  5. Anna
    Anna says:

    Thanks for sharing Chrissy. This is a helpful and a very well written, humorous article.

    Mark’s story about Swarly and the housemate vote made me really chuckle. We too have a mouse living in our kitchen and my partner has named it “Mickey”. He seems to live somewhere at the back of the oven as the droppings are only found in the drawer under the oven. Mickey also seems to be a well-behaved little mouse!

    In all seriousness though, while I’m not concerned about Mickey as we are moving soon I’ll be sure to look into the sonic wave repellent option at the new place. Thanks for the handy tip!

    Reply
    • Chandra
      Chandra says:

      As someone who has seen the results of allowing mice to live in an oven, don’t do it. It all seems harmless until one day you turn the oven on and your home fills up with the smell of urine…

      Reply
  6. Ben
    Ben says:

    I live in an apartment in the 11th floor, and I saw a little black mouse! My question is if I use an ultrasonic mouse repellent, where does he go?! Should I leave the balcony door open and let him scape or there is another way for him to scape and never come back?!!

    Reply
  7. Charlotte Raasch
    Charlotte Raasch says:

    I had a black mouse living in my bedroom, I saw it when my mccal , my calico was staring in one place.I was staring too. It darted to the cat bowl and took a kibble and took off into the closet, mouse came back out and climbed into the water bowl and drank it.my cat did not even go after the mouse.why? I cleaned my closet out .the mouse scurried away.I threw everything away in the closet.Today at 7am .my 2 cats in bed with me.this mouse went into the empty closet 3 times.I have to admit I found the mouse amusing.it stared at me and scurried to the cat food 3x 1 nibblet at a time. Than climbed up on the glass bowl and drank a lot of water.my cats ignored the mouse that I named nick. I feel sorryf for nick. I set a trap with peanut butter in a card board box.Nick is to smart and eats out of the cat bowls , nick bypasses the trap and box next to the cat box. I do not want nick the mouse in my bedroom. Idk? Why the cats are not killing nick? Do you know why the cats are not killing nick ?

    Reply
    • Sandra A Diaz
      Sandra A Diaz says:

      I also have well fed, disinterested kitties. Although the only time, I have ever seen one was dead near one of their litter boxes.
      I am so grossed out!! I now see my 2 female cats sitting together staring under the fridge. I am most worried , I have Micky, Minnie and a hole slew of pinkies living in my 3 cat condo. I am freaking out!! I also, do not want to kill them. I only want them to relocate, however its very cold in N.J and they won’t be willing participants. What do I do???? Thanks Rodent friends.

      Reply
  8. Paul Sampson
    Paul Sampson says:

    I had a different color of mouse in my house. And decided to kill them because they destroyed my stock foods. I’d rather to find a solution Reliance Pest Control Brisbane is really help my problems. But most of all I am so thankful to this articles because it give a lot info solution.

    Reply
  9. Rebecca Gardner
    Rebecca Gardner says:

    It stood out to me when you explained that rodents in the home can carry diseases like Hantavirus and Lyme disease. My husband and I think our small cottage vacation home might have a problem with mice because we discovered a pile of droppings in the cabinet when we were there last weekend. Reading your article helped me feel motivated to call a pest control service, so thanks for sharing your experience.

    Reply
  10. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    My girlfriend and I live on the third floor in an old house. We have a little mouse that lives in the kitchen. Very harmless little guy and doesn’t bother us nor our food supply. Doesn’t leave droppings in our foot traffic area either so we named him Oliver. Cute mouse, scares the crap out of us sometimes but he’s just as scared. Sometimes we give him a cheerio or a small piece of cheese to munch on. As long as he doesn’t bother us, make a mess or tampers with our food we are cool with him living with us.

    Reply
  11. Max
    Max says:

    Rodents are very cleaver. I was living in an old building on the second floor and occasionally, when everything was very still, whoosh! A little black mouse would dart across the kitchen. Ah-ha! I’d say and try to see where it went. No luck. Now, I’d lie and wait for it to appear again and then follow it back to the nest. Under the sink! Of course! There was a little pile of paper shreds where this mouse lived. He was a very well behaved mouse, the droppings were all in his nest and he only ate food from the floor. There was a housemate vote and we decided to name him “Swarly” in reference to a character on “how I met your mother.” We lived together in harmony until moving day. He was a good mouse.

    Reply

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