Dealing With and Preventing Mice On The Homestead

Dealing with and preventing mice on the homestead

Living in the country brings a whole host of challenges, ones that you are not as likely to encounter in the city.

One of the things city-folk are often surprised at is the number of critters that live out in the country. From bugs to squirrels to mice, there are all sorts of little animals living in the country that the average city person never sees, or never has to deal with. The mouse is one such creature.

As cute as they are, they carry a number of diseases and should be exterminated as soon as you are aware of their existence. Not only do they leave tell tale droppings behind but they urinate everywhere. It’s no fun cleaning dead mice out of traps, but that’s probably better than the alternatives which include the hanta virus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis and tularemia.

When we moved to the country, we moved into a home that had not been lived in for six months. For the most part it was in great shape, but we had a small family (or two) of mice to deal with. The empty home proved too tempting, and they’d made themselves right at home. It took a couple of months, but we got them all.

Here are some things you can do to prevent mice, in the first place.

Clean up!

Don’t have brush piles or wood piles lying around the home. Anything that a mouse can take shelter in will be appealing, so keep things clear.

Close all of the little holes leading into your house.

You can do this with wire screen, spray in foam, steel wool, and with other techniques. The goal here is to make sure that there is always a physical barrier between the indoors the outdoors.

Get a cat.

Without question, having a feline friend will reduce the mouse population, both in your house and on the property. Barn cats truly do serve a useful purpose.

Don’t leave food scraps out.

Whether your are indoors or out, leaving food around is a sure way to attract critters (and ants, and other insects.) Keep things clean & store food is sealed plastic containers or glass jars.

Dealing With and Preventing Mice On The Homestead

Assuming your preventative measures have failed, here are some thoughts with regards to getting rid of an infestation:

Mouse Traps

Traps come in all shapes and sizes. We have used all sorts, and for indoor use, we have had the best luck with the old fashioned, single-use mouse trap, baited with either cheese or peanut butter. They are cheap, effective, and they let you know they’ve triggered though the sound they make. When we first moved into our cabin, we’d hear them trigger during the night, letting us know we’d have something to clean up in the morning.

The only downside we found to these is that sometimes, the mouse was not killed, and we had to dispatch it ourselves. We have had this happen with other traps as well, so it is not specific to the old style traps. Sometimes you just have to get your hands a little dirty.

Traps that don’t work well

We’ve had less luck with the electric traps. They are excellent at killing mice but they are expensive, difficult to clean and inevitably, when electrifying something, there will be a bit of cleaning to be done. We’ve noticed that they need to be cleaned extremely well in order for them to reset and this is far too finicky for our liking.

The easy set, plastic traps have a 100% failure rate for us. They tend to injure and not kill the mice and although we need to kill the mice, we don’t want to be cruel.

We do not use sticky paper traps as that is the least humane method we can think of. This results in a slow death unless you are checking the traps regularly and manually dispatching them mice, overall this method is the least humane.


Poison can be used, but be wary if you have pets. Although you can take care to put the poison in places where your pets cannot get at it, things happen. If you’ve got friendly four legged creatures as part of your family, you may want to skip this option. There are non toxic varieties but they still should not be ingested by pets.

There is also the issue of a mouse dying in your wall. this is not really very appealing. This is another downside to poison: you have no control over corpses.

Bucket Traps

For a garage and other outbuildings, the best type of trap, hands down, is the bucket trap. It is effective at catching a lot of mice. Basically, you take a 5 gallon bucket and drill a hole, one on each side just below the rim. Take a juice bottle and drill a hole in the base of the bottle, large enough to fit a dowel though.  Feed a dowel through one side of the bucket, then through the bottle and finally through the other side of the bucket. You should be able to spin the bottle with your finger. You then fill the bucket 1/3 full with soapy water or antifreeze. Put a ramp leading up to the bucket and slather peanut butter all over the pop bottle. You can also find bucket traps on-line, that require no drilling or effort to assemble.

Although rather disgusting, using antifreeze ensures the traps will work in the winter time. It also has the effect of stopping any smell, as well as liquifying mouse corpses. This can be useful in buildings that are not commonly used or in cabins where you will be away for a long while.  Again, care is required if you have pets, as anti-freeze is lethal to them.

With a little care and prevention, you can probably prevent most mice from ever entering your home. Failing this, there are plenty of options for getting rid of them. If you’re facing a mouse infestation, don’t panic, and don’t let it get you down. The issue can be resolved with a bit of patience, effort, and perhaps a few changes in habits. Everyone gets a mouse now and then, especially in the country, so don’t fret. It’s just part of the deal.

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