All tenants fear the possibility of unwanted critters like termites or rodents taking up residence in their apartment. Rodents in particulartend to seek shelter in them during the fall and winter months, mostly for the same reason you’d want to stay indoors: it’s nice and toasty. Plus, rats and mice lose their surface temperatures, and thus their body heat, much more quickly than humans because of how small they are.
In most places, mice are commonly regarded as vermin, and there is certainly good reason for that. After all, they can chew through just about anything, carry harmful pathogens (including those which cause Lyme disease), and multiply in number relatively quickly. It can easily become an out-of-control situation, not to mention an unhygienic (mice droppings, ew!) and downright annoying one, as you can usually hear them scampering around in the dead of night.
For those of us who don’t exactly relish the thought of hosting a horde of mice in the near future, there are some pretty effective ways to prevent any from infiltrating your apartment in the first place. As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” But even if you’ve already seen, smelled, or heard the tell-tale signs of a mouse in your home, there are still ways to take matters into your own hands without calling up your landlord and having an exterminator come to your place — all while humanely ensuring that no mice will want to move into your place again.
The first thing that you can do to humanely keep mice out is to block any small openings through which they might enter. If you see any holes in the flooring, walls, doors, or elsewhere, bring it to your landlord’s attention. These need to be sealed with some sort of caulking in order to prevent not just mice, but any other pests from coming into your apartment. You may even be able to block the hole yourself, if it’s small enough. One DIY method is to take a bit of sponge that’s been cut off and simply stick it in the hole. Steel wool and mesh are also good materials to use for blocking holes.
You don’t need to invest in harsh or store-bought chemicals to ward off mice when simple household ingredients will just as easily do the trick. Mice are very sensitive to smells and apparently can’t stand certain ones. For that reason, a few drops of peppermint oil on a cotton ball (enough to saturate it) will go a long way towards keeping them at bay. The same goes for ground cayenne. Sprinkling a small amount on the kitchen window sill or near the fridge will cancel out any food smells that may ordinarily be appetizing to them.
The best repellent? A clean and tidy living space. It’s true — mice won’t be as drawn to an environment that’s pristine and well-maintained. By regularly taking out your garbage, wiping down your counters to remove food particles, and vacuuming up in areas where crumbs may have fallen, you can be sure that mice won’t find your apartment very appealing, or at least not for long.
Mice tend to inhabit places in close proximity to their food source, so by keeping food stored in airtight containers in your cupboards and refrigerator, you can do even more to guarantee that they won’t smell the food, thereby eliminating the temptation altogether. They simply won’t stay in an area where there’s nothing to eat. When taking the trash out, you should also remember to keep your garbage bin at a good distance from your building if at all possible, right on the edge of the curb.
So you’re pretty sure you have a mouse in your apartment, but you don’t want to kill the poor thing with a traditional mouse trap or use poison that could inadvertently kill your pet, too. Don’t despair. You can easily create traps yourself that will contain the mouse without harming it, or you can buy one off the internet. There are some highly-rated no-kill traps out there, as long as you don’t mind spending a little money. Before you use any trap, though, you must determine where the mouse is hiding. Typical “hangouts” for mice include kitchen walls and behind appliances.
Once you’ve determined the mouse’s whereabouts, it’s time to place your trap. A bucket (or any other tall, sturdy container) makes for a great homemade one. To lure the mouse, put a small spoonful of peanut butter or Nutella in the bottom of the bucket. You should also consider propping a little cardboard “ramp” or ruler against the side of the bucket to help the critter climb up and get inside. Alternately, you can put a piece of cardboard, such as an empty toilet paper roll, on the edge of a kitchen counter, with the part containing the bait sticking out over the edge. Once the mouse tries to retrieve the food, they’ll fall off the edge and right into the bucket below.
If the bucket’s interior is a hard, even material like plastic, it will be pretty much impossible for the mouse to climb back up and escape. If you really want to make things difficult for them, you can lightly coat the inside with petroleum jelly or a cooking oil of your choice. Another idea is to take the bucket or container, turn it upside down with the bait underneath, and slip a couple of coins under the edge to raise the lid of the bucket off the floor, just slightly enough for a mouse to wriggle under. Once they’ve succeeded in getting underneath, their movements will cause the lid to come down all the way, preventing escape.
Whether you choose to make the trap or buy one is ultimately up to you. Just be sure to empty it out somewhere far away from the apartment once you’ve caught the mouse so that there’s virtually no chance that it can come back.
There you have it. You can rest assured knowing that these humane solutions will go a long way towards keeping your apartment mouse-free, and your conscience crystal clear.