Ask Uncle Joe – Lucy’s Letter

Dear Uncle Joe –

The cold weather has brought a wildlife problem indoors for me and my family. Somewhere, somehow, mice have been getting into my house and making their presence known throughout the house. My husband wants to buy glue traps but I will not allow it. I don’t want to hurt the critters, but I don’t want them to continue living with me without paying rent. What can I do?

Standing on top of a chair,

Lucy P.
Maryland Heights, MO.

Dear Lucy –

You’ve touched upon an issue that Uncle Joe knows very well. Last winter I had the very same problem that you describe and fortunately, I was able to find a simple non-violent solution.

The first thing you need to do is buy two humane mouse traps – the kind where the mice can be caught and released unharmed. They can be found in hardware stores and home centers such as Lowe’s and Home Depot.

Next, thoroughly inspect each room in your house and determine where the mice are getting in, making sure to also check the foundation and garage if it is attached to the house. In my case, the mice were crawling under the garage door and getting into the house through cracks in the walls near the chimney. Remember, mice can squeeze through an opening the size of a dime, so make sure you note every hole you find that is at least that size. Seal up every hole except for two inside your home, as you want to leave a couple of exit holes for the mice who are living inside your walls. What works well is plain steel wool pushed into the holes and cracks because the mice will not chew through it.

Bait the humane traps with peanut butter and place them immediately in front of the holes that you have left open. Be sure to check the traps several times a day because with most traps, only one mouse can be caught at a time.

Once you have caught Mickey or Minnie make sure you relocate them to a suitable area such as a patch of woods, preferably one that is about one-mile away (mice can return to their homes if it is within 1/2 mile). If you catch mice at a time when it is inconvenient to relocate them, they can be safely kept in a glass terrarium or fish tank with wood shavings for bedding. Remember, these are wild mice and are not suited to life in captivity, so they should be set free as soon as possible.

After catching and releasing a mouse (preferably to the same location as the formerly released mouse), be sure to clean out the trap, re-bait it, and place it back in front of the hole. Continue this process until you have not caught any mice for two weeks. At this time, it is safe to seal up the last remaining holes.

Thank you for seeking a peaceful solution to the problem.


Uncle Joe


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