Whether it’s a roach, bedbugs, or someone who doesn’t screw the toothpaste cap back on, an unwanted roommate is a fact of city living that you may eventually have to contend with. Among those undesirable roommates are, of course, mice. But if you find that you are suddenly sharing your dwelling with one or more, there are steps you can take on your own to eradicate the problem (aside from shrieking and jumping up on the couch). First and foremost, Andy Linares, the founder of New York City–based Bug Off Pest Control Center, has two tips for minimizing the chance of a mouse in any house: “No exposed food or garbage and no clutter.” But we all know that sometimes even good hygiene is not enough.
To find out exactly what else you need to deal with a mouse problem (and lower the chance of having one in the first place), we asked three pest-control professionals about the best traps and supplies for DIY mouse-catchers. While this guide takes a more, well, permanent approach to mice removal, if you prefer the more humane catch-and-release method, we have a guide for that, too.
Supplies to prevent mice from entering
A sealant for small openings
Aside from practicing good cleaning habits, to prevent mice from getting into your home, Linares says “you have to seal off any possible points of entry.” To find those possible points of entry, Donald Clark, the owner of New York City–based Alleycat Exterminating, suggests doing a visual inspection of your home for any cracks, openings, or holes. Hot spots to check include the gas line behind your stove, your radiator pipes, the pipes under bathroom and kitchen sinks, and where any cable, internet, or other electrical lines feed in. Should you find smaller openings, the best way to block them is with a sealant — and Linares likes Rodent Stop because it is a flexible, waterproof sealant suitable for both indoor and outdoor use and has tiny, stainless steel fibers “to prevent mice from gnawing through it.” For another option, Clark recommends the less expensive DAP sealant, which is made from a petroleum-latex “that makes it taste really nasty to mice.”
Mesh for larger openings
For larger gaps or holes, Linares suggests first filling the hole with chew-proof stainless steel or copper mesh before covering them with your chosen sealant.
A door sweep
According to Linares, “installing door sweeps under every door” is another essential preventative measure. Clark agrees, and both men love Xcluder’s door sweep, which Clark describes as “a top-of-the-line door sweep.” Linares notes that installing it is a commitment — “it’s a permanent fix,” he says, that can’t be easily removed — but promises the door sweep is “absolutely bite-proof.” And doors aren’t the only thing mice will crawl under: Linares cautions that “mice will crawl through an open window, especially in the summer,” so be sure to keep the screens down if you keep your windows open.
Best traps for catching mice
Best overall mouse trap
If you already have interlopers in your home, then it’s time to select a trap. Traps are generally divided into three categories: glue boards, snap traps, and live-animal traps. “They all do what they sound like they do and what they’re supposed to do” explains Linares, who says selecting one boils down to personal preference and budget. But no matter what style you choose, Linares and Clark want to dispel one myth: Touching a trap with your bare hands will not deter a mouse from stepping on it. “These are cosmopolitan mice. They’ve been living with humans for hundreds of years, and everything they eat has our smell on it,” explains Clark.
According to Timothy Wong, the technical director of New York City-based, eco-friendly pest management company MMPC, “Glue boards are by far the most widely used mouse traps in the world,” because they are affordable, extremely effective, and also be used to catch and monitor for insects, such as roaches and ants. When it comes to specific brands of glue boards, “Catchmaster makes the best ones,” says Wong. Linares agrees: “Catchmaster is the No. 1 manufacturer.” But, as Linares notes, “proper technique is everything.” You want to place your traps along the mouse’s runway. Mice tend to follow the edges of a space, so look for droppings, urine, or rub marks against baseboards. While it may sound counterintuitive, Clark says you want to leave the droppings, “because that makes the mouse think the area is safe.” And Linares told us he doesn’t recommend baiting glue boards, since typical baits (like peanut butter) could make the trap greasy and allow the mouse to wriggle free. “It is also important to keep them clean and dust-free,” Wong adds.
Of course, using a glue board (and many other traps) means you will see any mouse you catch. So if you’re squeamish, Clark suggests placing the glue board inside a shoebox with holes cut out of each shorter side, and rubbing some vanilla extract or peanut butter onto the lid of the shoebox to lure the mouse in. If you’re not squeamish and fine with leaving the trap exposed, after you’ve caught the mouse, “putting a piece of newspaper or cardboard on top of the glue board and gently stepping on it will crush the animal and kill it instantly,” Clark says.
Best (slightly) less-expensive mouse trap
“Professionals still rely on the classic snap trap,” says Wong, and “no one makes these as well as Victorpest.” Because of its effectiveness, the design has not altered much in the hundred years it’s been manufactured. While they are cost-effective, the pros do not recommend using snap traps in households with children or pets. Unlike glue-board traps, snap traps do require baiting, and Linares told us you could either use small amounts of food (peanut butter, fruit gummies, or jerky are all Clark-approved) or nesting material (like a cotton ball, piece of string, or dental floss).
Best reusable snap mouse trap
The snapping mechanism in snap traps is generally the same across all brands, says Linares. But if you want one that can be used repeatedly, he says the Snap-E is “outstanding, very durable, and very effective.”
Best clamshell-style snap mouse trap
Clark loves clamshell-style reusable snap traps like the T-Rex because they tend to be more “user-friendly” and have a sturdier base that won’t be set off prematurely by vibrations.
Best discrete mouse trap
If you absolutely do not want to see a mouse after it has been trapped, Linares suggests these traps from Hidden Kill, which function similarly to a snap trap, but kill a mouse using a mechanism that he describes as like “a pile driver.” The trap requires baiting, and he explains that the main “purpose of Hidden Kill is to kill the rodent and then contain it, so that you don’t have any odors, body fluids, or parasites.” While they’re on the pricier side and not reusable, these are an excellent choice for those who are even a bit squeamish, say the pros.
Best passive live-animal mouse trap
A live-animal trap will, as its name suggests, trap a live animal. A passive live-animal trap like this reusable one from Repeater allows the mouse to walk into the trap, which triggers a door to close behind it (but a human then needs to reset the trap before using it again). The Repeater has a clear top, to make it easy to spot any rodents once caught. But if you choose a live-animal style of trap, Linares says you need to have a plan for how you are going to dispose of the mouse. One disposal option, according to Wong, is to “release the rodent outside of the house.” Linares told us that a glue board could also be placed inside a passive live-animal trap to make disposing of the mouse a little easier. Otherwise, submerging the trap in water to drown the mouse will work as well. And no bait is needed with live animal traps, since a mouse’s natural instinct is to explore and poke its head into holes, says Linares.
Best (less expensive) passive live-animal mouse trap
Tip-Trap’s passive live-animal trap is an affordable option that functions similarly to the Repeater trap above. Linares calls it an “ingenious, clever trap,” which uses gravity to tip the mouse into it and then shut the door.
Best mouse trap for chronic infestations
Unlike a passive live-animal trap, an active live-animal trap will reset itself after capturing a mouse, so it can catch more than one between disposals. Both Wong and Linares like this active live-animal trap from Ketch-All, which works by using a paddle mechanism that, once activated, flips the rodent into a side compartment, and then resets itself. The compartment is large enough to hold up to 15 mice at once, explains Linares, who says this is ideal for homes with chronic infestations. “While it is more expensive than the glue boards, it is made of metal and is reusable for many years if kept cleaned,” adds Wong.
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