Here are different ways to catch house mice

A graphic of house mice.
A graphic of house mice. Special to the Sun Herald

It lives two or three times longer.

It can eat whatever it wants and not get fat. It can run for hours at top speed without getting tired and it’s randier than a bunch of rabbits. What is it? It’s mighty mouse. No. Not the cartoon character.

These mice have been developed by researchers at Case Western Reserve University for studies on aging. They’ve limited the numbers to just over 500 inside the lab. If they manage to escape, it’s not worth thinking about. We have enough problems handling the run of the mill house mouse.

Our ordinary mice live and breed inside our homes, buildings and other structures such as sheds. The man-made buildings offer mice protection from predators and the weather. They also supply them with food and water. House mice can live quite well on relatively poor diets and can exist without access to free water. We supply mice with an almost ideal environment.

The typical house mouse is an excellent climber, scurrying up ducting, pipes, walls and wires. Their incisors are exceptionally hard and allow the mouse to gnaw through aluminum, concrete and lead. When a mouse chews through an electrical cable, the resulting short can cause a fire.

House mice are fairly predictable in their habits. They tend to restrict their activity to areas within a ten meter radius. They habitually use the same pathways producing greasy smears along baseboards and walls as their fur rubs against the surfaces. They are curious creatures as well. They will feed at a number of different sites during the night, rather than just one or two places near their nest.

House mice will eat almost anything. But they seem to prefer grain-based foods. If you notice signs of infestation, you need to take immediate action. In the average life of a female mouse, she can produce up to 10 litters of five to six young each time.

They can reach breeding age in as little as six weeks. If you do the math, you’ll find that a single female can potentially have hundreds of offspring in her lifetime.

One of the first indications of a mouse in the house is the sound of scampering feet or gnawing at night, usually in the attic or behind walls. Fresh mouse droppings, gnaw marks or smears along the baseboards are other indications.

To prevent infestations, don’t leave food out overnight. This includes pet food. Your dog or cat can manage to survive without a munch in the middle of the night. If you spill food, clean it up completely. Empty garbage cans as often as practicable. Place food in mouse-proof containers. Seal up any holes in the house exterior walls. A mouse can squeeze through space smaller than a nickel.

To get rid of mice, the old-fashioned snap trap works as well as anything on the market. They’re cheap and easy to use. Set them anywhere you see signs of mouse activity. Use peanut butter for bait.

Mice are natural nibblers and peanut butter is sticky. Glue traps are another useful tool in controlling mice. They need to be set against walls where the mice habitually run. If you use poison bait, keep them out of the way of curious children and hungry pets. Change the bait out often.

If these procedures don’t eliminate the mice, you may have to contact a professional pest management specialist.

Tim Lockley, a specialist in entomology, is retired from a 30-year career as a research scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For answers to individual questions, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Tim Lockley, c/o Sun Herald, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535.