Apparently everyone does! The glory and the gory . . . mouse tales from our readers.

What do you know? Those Saturday morning cartoons lied to us. Mice are not delightfully playful creatures who dream of cheese wedges while living solitary lifestyles behind the baseboards when not sewing clothing for Cinderella.

Fact is, if you discover one mouse in the house, there are likely dozens more nearby. Female mice can give birth when they are two months old and are able to have babies 6 to 10 times per year.

More mouse tidbits:

* Despite their tiny bodies, mice eat between 15 and 20 times a day.

* A house mouse produces between 40 and 100 droppings per day.

* Mice are good jumpers, climbers and swimmers.

* Mice can live up to two years, but usually only live for about five months in the wild, mostly because of predators, such as cats, snakes and foxes.

* While mice may look cute, they carry as many as 200 human pathogens, some very deadly.

No wonder they’ve been known to make some people leap shrieking onto chairs.

In climates like Maine’s, mice typically enter homes between October and February looking for food, water and shelter from the cold. The house mouse is the most common — with its jolly round head and ears — but there are other types as well.

Regardless of their exact DNA, they’ll invade your pantry. They’ll chew your woodwork. And leave little poops all over the place. It’s unnerving, it’s annoying and a mouse invasion can even be dangerous. What’s to be done about it?

For some, it’s as easy as setting up old-style traps and waiting for the sharp snap of death in the middle of the night. For others, a good aggressive cat is the solution. For many, though, turning back a mouse invasion isn’t so simple. They find snap-style traps messy, ineffective or gruesome. Cats turn lazy, while catch-and-release methods prove to be less than reliable. Poison has its own perils.

We recently asked for mouse-in-the-house stories from our readers and were overwhelmed by the response. It seems everybody has mice, even though the pest control people say this year is no worse than any other.

So how DO you deal with it? Our readers provide some hints, and a few chilling stories along the way.

A killer mousetrap: Ed Mushlit , Monmouth

My wife and I live in an older 19th-century home in Monmouth. It is surrounded by apple orchards and farm land, which make the land prime for field mice. Since moving here 18 years ago, we have had our share of mice getting into an attic storage area. They seem to find easy access through the old stone and granite foundations. First attempts to trap or bait them with the typical store-bought items proved that they were smarter than I am.

A friend introduced me to the best mouse trap ever. It is simple, cheap and works like a charm. This year I trapped the most mice I have ever experienced since living here (47). It was a banner year for apples, field corn, gardens and MICE.

So, you take a simple 5-gallon plastic pail, cut two small notches on the top edge at opposite sides. Use a straight piece of wire (coat hanger works best) to span across the bucket opening. Then drill a wire-size hole at each end of a soda or beer can and place the can with the wire through it over the top of the bucket and bend the ends of the wire over at the outer edges of the notches. Then spread a light coating of peanut butter on the can. Finally, I put a gallon of automobile anti-freeze fluid in the bucket and place a 1-by-3-by-3-inch piece of wood angled against the edge of the bucket as a walkway. The mice will walk up the 1-by-3 to the edge and try to jump to the peanut butter-covered can (yummy). End result is drowned mice without too much odor in case you don’t get to it right away. Works well even at freezing temps. Great for an unheated camp. I use an old, large slotted spoon to remove the remains for safe disposal and it’s ready for the next victim.

Flying out the window: Heidi Lachapelle, Auburn

My cat loves to hunt and catch mice around 3 a.m. It’s wonderful to wake up to a 20-pound beast running around your house making a ton of noise. I got up one night to help her (I always have to help, otherwise I’m afraid she will wake my children, and that would be a real problem!) and we chased the mouse into the playroom. I, with a sock on my hand to catch it; she, with a happy sparkle in her eye because her owner was finally playing with her.

There was lots of chasing and escaping as the mouse had toys to hide in and under. At one point, the mouse sat at the wheel of a toy forklift — I can only imagine hoping it would start so she could get away. I finally cornered her in an Imaginext fire station, picked up the fire station and threw it out the window. Unfortunately, these stories always end up with a mouse being tossed out the window because what the hell else can you do with it once you catch it?

A similar story occurs about once a week. It always happens on a night when my kids actually sleep through the night, just to make sure I don’t ever get a full night’s sleep. And my husband always sleeps soundly though the whole thing.

Mouse deter-mint: Sherry Spencer Wilbur, Mechanic Falls

Mice don’t like peppermint. I put peppermint extract on cotton balls and put them in places where I see evidence of them. It does work. You just need to make sure to replace them every couple of weeks. Plus my house smells great.

Giving traps the slip: Jenna Ranger

We discovered that we had at least four mice in our house that we had seen, so we pulled out the furniture to discover MOUNDS of mice poo. My boyfriend of course wants to kill them all, and I don’t, so I took to Google to find alternative methods. I found something about peppermint oil and putting it around your house to get them to leave. And it worked! For about a week.

They came back. I stopped putting the oil down as it started smelling like the inside of a schnapps bottle. Now we had pissed-off mice and they started chewing holes in my clothes and coming out right in front of me and just hanging out to mock me. Lol

I ended up putting down sticky traps and when a mouse got onto it I brought it down the street to the woods and poured olive oil on the trap and used a tooth pick to help them get free. We went through a lot of olive oil, but we got rid of our mice and avoided an argument over how to do it. 🙂

And they lived happily ever after. Until we get mice again. Because we will.

The Great Mouse Incident: Elizabeth Henry, Auburn

Over the years, I’ve lived all over — Midwest, West Coast, East Coast — in big, small, tall, old, new, city, country, rented and owned homes, and no matter where, there has come a point when it slowly dawns on me that I have unwanted house guests of a mouse kind. The cats are the first to tip me off when they take a break from their 20-hour sleep schedule to prowl around the perimeter of a room making spooky, trilly meows until they park themselves in front of a corner only to stare at the baseboard for two days straight.

These house cats, which have included a variety of two-cat combinations over a 27-year-period, make a big show of their big-cat predator roots, but I do not rely on them to get rid of mice. I think what they actually do is emit enough kitty-cat vibe to send the mice into incognito mode, and nothing more. My most recent house-mouse encounter confirms this theory.

It all started when fall winds and rains drove the local field mice through the tiniest cracks of homes all over the neighborhood. My next-door neighbor alerted me to a full-blown “yeti” situation in her home. She wasn’t wasting any time letting her “useless” cats take care of the the yeti. Oh no. She called Acme Pest Control immediately and, following a plan of entrapment and pet-safe/mouse-fatal poison doses, she rested easy believing her house to be completely yeti-free. Meanwhile, I had no such peace of mind as my husband does not subscribe to the Acme $$ Pest Control approach.

I ignored the cats meowing around the house and staring at baseboards for a couple weeks, but then they launched a frenzied attack, capture, set free, chase, attack and do it all over again campaign that demanded immediate attention. The Great Mouse Incident occurred while my daughter was home alone and I was in a staff meeting about anxiety. I had conveniently silenced my phone and missed her series of increasingly panicked, anxious texts:

“THERE’S A MOUSE IN THE PANTRY”

“Colonel dragged it to your room and is KILLING it!!!!!!!”

“Colonel ran downstairs with it in his mouth”

“It escaped!!! Idk (I don’t know) what to do please answer!!!!!!!”

“Nvm Laura (the aforementioned neighbor who dealt with her yeti) rescued me”

After the incident I thought for sure my husband would relent and call Acme Pest Control, but he just doubled down on the number of traps he set, which, by the way, are even more useless than the cats. Not a single trap caught so much as a mouse whisker.

But the cats have not shown any sign that they sense any more mice. So it appears that the mice have vacated, packed their tiny suitcases and scrammed. What got rid of the little critters? Nothing. I’m sure they are still cozied up in several dark corners, only now they have the good sense to lay low and not provoke the cats. I’m OK with that so long as I keep up the mantra: Peaceful coexistence means out of sight, out of mind.

Gulp. What mouse problem?: Joline Boudreau, Rumford

We never had a mouse problem until our water heater died a few years ago. The repair man came running upstairs saying there was a huge snake under the heater. After “dealing” with the snake and repairing the heater . . . all was well with the world . . . UNTIL the following winter. We were infested with mice!! So for us now it is a combination of d-CON and snap traps EARLY in the season!

Resigned to rodents: Renee Brezovsky, Auburn

We have lived in our circa-1900 farmhouse with attached barn for 15 years and the winter always poses mice problems. With five indoor cats, you’d think the problem wouldn’t exist. However, we have dealt with electricity outages, noise in the walls, mouse poo in the cupboards and, most recently, the little buggers entering and exiting my dishwasher at will. Apparently, there is an air vent for their convenience. Oh, the cats are successful on a rare occasion by the evidence of blood trails and the left-behind kidneys. My cats prefer not to eat the kidneys.

So, what do we do to get rid of these little furry nuisances? I am embarrassed to say, not much. I am afraid to use mouse bait for three reasons.

1. Should my cats ingest it, they could die.

2. If the mice eat it and die in my walls, I imagine the smell would be horrendous.

3. I know what rodenticide does and cannot imagine the pain and suffering endured by such a death. I cannot bear to think about it.

The mouse traps from Tom and Jerry? Can’t deal with looking at the little dead body I am responsible for murdering.

When my husband comes home (he is away at times for work), he puts down sticky traps in the dishwasher. The mice cooperate and get cemented to the traps. My husband then peels them off (live, minus a small amount of fur) and takes them across the street, releasing them in the field. I have noticed a decreasing number of mouse poos since the latest effort, but I’m not sure if it’s because there are actually less mice or because they have chatted and decided to change strategy.

I don’t know what the right answer is to getting rid of them forever, but we have managed to coexist with the same routine for years. It creeps me out to think of the sheer number I know are happily traveling through our house and barn, but it’s worse to think of the excrement they are leaving behind. If there was a humane answer to their eradication, I would be all for it. My sensitivity to animal well-being overpowers any reasoning to kill them. I guess we will continue to share our living space with Mickey and Minnie and their 300 babies.

Pasta the point of patience: Carolyn Tucker, Minot

You want mice? I have a particularly virulent infestation this year. Now I’m not one of those people who freak out seeing a mouse. I don’t care for finding droppings, but I can live with a mouse or two coming in for the warmth and stealing some of the dog food. I usually have a live-and-let-live philosophy when it comes to mice. I live in the country and don’t have a cat. There will be mice.

This year, however, I’ve had to deal with some rather audacious mice. I normally get up around 5 a.m.; yeah too early. When sitting quietly sipping my coffee I hear what sounds like construction from the cupboards under the sink. I sneak over and pull open the doors. No visible mouse, but what I do see baffles me: one of the largest-size pasta shells. Now the cupboard where those are stored is sealed fairly well. I have no idea how a mouse got this shell that’s big enough for an average mouse to use as a bedroom out of the box and through the wall. I don’t want to know.

Checking the cupboard the shell came from, I discover multiple gnawed boxes and even my bag of sugar is full of mouse droppings. Within a day or so I saw another mouse run across my sideboard and then sit and watch me watch it. It became war.

I polled some people and decided to use a new type of plastic trap. Works great. Got 14 mice the first two days I was setting them. They’ve gotten a bit smarter and I’m averaging one every other day.

All food is now up on wire racks and there are only canned goods anywhere the mice can access. I leave the traps near the dog food bag. I still hear them rustling around, but not as often. And except for the dead ones in the traps, I haven’t seen any in quite a while.

Debbie Summers, Litchfield

My husband and I live in rural Maine, and have been battling mice for years. We own two lazy cats that are usually no help. Once in a while they will beat one up, so we can scoop it up in a large plastic cup and throw it outside!

I don’t like killing the little guys, so I have used live catch traps some. I had a mouse living in my car and used a live trap. I caught him and decided to drive him to the end of my long driveway and then let him loose. He circled my car and crawled back in!

For mice in the house, we tried going back to old-fashioned traps. We caught one by his tail. It was awful, poor little guy. I didn’t know what to do with him, so I put him — trap and all — in a Hannaford bag (don’t tell PETA) and threw him — bag and all — out on my porch. A couple hours later bag and mouse were gone!

We now have a few plug-in mouse deterrents and place stinky dryer sheets in our crawl space in the house. Works pretty well! Happy new year!

Melanie Houghton Harvey, Poland

We have been inundated this year, like never before. We use old-fashioned wooden snap traps set with peanut butter. They can’t resist. Our local store was fresh out (hmm) so we got the black plastic glue traps they stick to. We found one still alive stuck to it, and I found that to be inhumane (letting them suffer) and leaving us to do the dirty work. D-CON works, but I don’t like to leave them deteriorating in the walls. I’d rather they go swiftly; we just throw them into the trash. We’ve killed three more in the past week.

Bruce LeBlanc, Otisfield

Here’s a photo of my collection of mice I trapped in 2015. This collection was about eight day’s worth of setting traps (old-fashioned spring loaded with creamy peanut butter as bait). I consider myself a “Master Mouse Trapper.” Mice generally make attempts to enter homes or other sheltered places twice per year and average 10 mice per breeding and have approximately a 24-day gestation period. It doesn’t take much of a space for them to make their way into a house.

Katie Davis, Lisbon Falls

When I lived in Louisiana I had problems with mice. I also had three cats, but they wouldn’t catch the stupid things, so I went and got one of those traps that have that sticky stuff on it. So I take it out of the box and put it out before I went to bed. In the middle of the night I hear this strange noise and here are the three lazy cats playing with that dead mouse stuck on the trap!

When I was a teenager (many years ago) it was a cold night. My father had set the trap and it wasn’t a few minutes but you could hear it go off. So he disposes of it and sets it again. And it goes off again. That night he caught something like 20 mice. I’d never seen anything like that before that, or ever since for that matter.

Suze Blood, Auburn

We (my housemate and owner of said domicile) live in a home built circa-1900, surrounded by eight to nine acres of land and not much else — except field mice.

A couple weekends ago she had to dispose of numerous food items, many of which featured tiny teeth marks embedded in the wrapping. We proceeded to put everything in plastic containers and I implored my cat to BOLO (be on the lookout); not like she does anything and should earn her keep.

The last straw came when I was making chicken stew for my boyfriend who was recovering from a cold virus. I grabbed some brown rice and added it to the mixture in the crock pot. Whilst stirring I came across some extra — well, let’s just say they weren’t grains of rice. I had to dump it all out, bleach the heck out of the pot and start over. Now they’ve cost me money and I have a vendetta. I’m not going to live in an Upton Sinclair novel, darn it!

Come to find out my housemate is a conscientious objector: In years past she has rescued mice from glue traps, put them in a fish tank, fed them and released them in the spring. I’m not terribly certain this is a great deterrent, but she’s one of the kindest souls I’ve ever met and doubt she could see to a living creature’s demise.

But I think I could, or at least allow the cat to hone in on her natural instincts and dispose of them for us. Who am I kidding; we need real barn cats, not this useless creature.

Leanne Dech, Freeport

I’ve got ’em inside and out — they sneak seed from under the bird feeders at dawn and dusk. The cats keep them at bay, though even when they catch them I actually try to release them: They’re just trying to get by like the rest of us.

Judy McMorrow, Mechanic Falls

We have lived in an old Maine cape with a 1860s fieldstone foundation – might as well be a sign: “Mice Hotel.”

One winter the top drawer in the kitchen that housed a mouse trap also held the food coloring. We caught 25 mice before we caught the one with blue feet from the time he chewed the food coloring.

We did some major renovation in the kitchen 10-plus years ago, with the mouse hole eradication in mind. And it worked until last winter. We were traveling the Gulf Coast during the winter; we received a phone call from our son, telling us that our septic system had frozen. The showers backed up and the toilets wouldn’t flush. He was trying to get the problem resolved, staying at our house on weekends. He did not notice that the crumb-laden plates on the cupboards or sink had mouse poop in them. He was intent on the plumbing problem.

We returned home to not only frozen pipes, but the first morning I went to get a butter knife for toast, out popped a mouse — in my cutlery drawer. (It meant) cleaning, sanitizing, while throwing all the water outside as the drains were still clogged.

Peggy Giguere, Auburn

At my house it’s been Louis (the cat) 4; Mice 0. He’s all black and waits for them at night. In the morning he has left it for us in the kitchen. They never see him coming!

Stephanie Lynn Hamel, West Minot

I swear I catch four mice a night. It’s gross as ever. I have the old-school wooden traps with peanut butter and a Cheerio pushed in, because they’re getting smart and not tripping the trap. It’s even come to the point a mouse ate a mouse in the trap . . . yuck.

Ginny Brackett, Vassalboro

When I spray-foamed my basement, it really cut down on their entry points. Now strategically placed d-CON and two cats keeps the mice in check. Unfortunately my cats like to leave their kill as presents, also strategically placed.

Alice Flanders, East Otisfield

Peanut butter works a lot better than cheese. You could try putting peanut butter ON the cheese.

Steve Catanese, Paris

Has caught 53 mice in his 1800s farm house since he began counting in September. He’s lived in the house since 1986, and said it doesn’t seem like an abnormally high year — unless you compare it to the years his family had cats.

So, you want to capture a mouse using sticky paper

Sean and Kristy Michael run a popular YouTube page in which they contend with the many joys and pitfalls of living out of a recreational vehicle. Recently, the couple found themselves nose-to-twitching-nose with a mouse in their RV and they recorded their attempts to capture and free it using sticky paper. The results were questionable. Not to mention, hilarious. Watch the video here. 

Signs of a house mouse infestation

Sightings

Although more commonly active in the evening, it is possible to see a house mouse roaming in your home during the day. Most often these animals are spotted scurrying along walls or running from a normally undisturbed hiding place.

Droppings

Where there are mice, there are droppings. These small pellets are commonly found anywhere the animals have visited or traveled. Approximately 3 to 6 millimeters long, the droppings may be rod shaped with pointed ends.

Footprints

As mice explore their territories, they often leave behind footprints or tracks on surfaces. The distinct pattern of a four-toed front foot and a five-toed back footprint are a clear sign that a mouse has passed by.

Gnawing/chewing

House mice are known for their ability to chew on a wide variety of items. In most cases, shavings and a fresh accumulation of debris is often the first indication of damage. Teeth and gnaw marks can also be found along the edges of frequently traveled routes, on the corners of objects or creating openings into an area.

Burrows/tunnels

House mice tend to build nests in material that provides a dark and protective environment, such as insulation and other soft materials. These nests are often characterized by openings or tunnels that are free of dust and cobwebs, but may be littered with droppings.

Sounds

During the evening hours, especially when it is dark and quiet, these small animals can often be heard gnawing and scratching within the walls, running across the ceiling and possibly squeaking.

Odor

House mouse urine plays an important role in communicating with other rodents. Oftentimes, rodents will mark an area to attract females or warn off other males. A distinct odor may become noticeable in an area with a large rodent population or when rodents have been present for a long period of time.

Source: orkin.com


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