Frugal Methods for Getting Rid of Field Mice

by Reader Contributors

Frugal Methods for Getting Rid of Field Mice photo

Need to eliminate field mice from your home? Try these frugal methods for getting rid of field mice that do not require poisons or a cat.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I live on one acre in the country and am having big problems with field mice getting in the house. I have trapped 20 in the last three weeks and they are driving me crazy.

Any suggestions from you or your readers on getting rid of field mice inexpensively? Can’t have a cat, the dog won’t allow it! I’d rather not use poisons. Won’t they die in the house (yuck!)? And I don’t want poison around the dog.

Carbonated Soda

I saw this on TV once. Put sweet, carbonated soda in a saucer and place where the mice can drink from it. The carbonization kills the mice; that way you won’t have to use poisons or traps, especially if you have small children or pets around.
Karen S.

Instant Potatoes

I have a rather frugal option for getting rid of field mice that an old farmer told me about and it really does work: Use instant mashed potatoes; they are much cheaper and a lot safer than rat poisons.

Place a few tablespoons where the mice are seen most often; try to keep them out of reach of the dog, just to be safe. The mice will eat the instant potatoes and die because the potatoes will expand in their stomachs before they can fully digest them. Most likely, the mice will die in the house if that is where they are living, but it’s better to have dead mice than live ones!

As for the dog and his/her intolerance of a cat: you may be very surprised! We now have 5 cats (1 indoor, 4 barn cats) and I would have never thought my dog would tolerate cats. She actually enjoys them and plays with them for hours. Since getting the cats, my mouse problem is over!

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Control Mice With Steel Wool

Mice can squeeze up through the holes where plumbing and electrical wires come through. We had a similar problem so we filled all the nooks and crannies with steel wool. We also filled in any small openings in the outside walls with steel wool. So far, we have no more mice.

I would also suggest putting everything in the cupboard into plastic containers to make absolutely sure there is nothing to attract them (reuse margarine tubs and ice cream buckets).

Lastly, get a good trap and use peanut butter to attract them to the trap.

Easy Field Mice Control

Many people have told me that if you put out Bounce softener sheets, the mice won’t come around because they don’t like the smell. You will need to change them out every so often.

I currently don’t have a mouse problem, but know someone that does and this is what has worked for him.

Attract an Owl

As a wildlife rehabilitator, I see many cases of animals suffering from secondary poisoning and would highly recommend that you find an alternative to using pesticides. You see, any rodent suffering from these poisons is an easy prey item for other animals including: birds of prey such as hawks and owls, domestic cats, and even your own dog (The dog that lives on the farm where my husband works nearly died this year from eating rodent poison). These animals will most likely suffer from secondary poisoning and die.

One possible alternative to using poison is to attract a natural enemy of the rodents to your property. Owls, such as screech owls, eat rodents. You can attract an owl to your property by putting up a nest box for it to roost and nest in. Not only will this rid you of some of the rodents, but it is completely natural and probably cheaper than chemical pesticides. Nest boxes can usually be found at a garden center or wild bird store. The rehabilitation facility I volunteer with also sells them, if you cannot find any in your area.
Melissa A. G., Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator

Chocolate Plaster of Paris

This tip was passed along to us by a woman who lived in a Catskill Farmhouse for years, and even though we were suburb dwellers, it turned out to be the only thing that helped get rid of our mice.

Take Plaster of Paris (dry) and mix it with chocolate milk powder and set it so the mice can eat it. It will be a dry powder. The good idea about this mixture is that the mice will leave the house to find water after they eat it so they will not die in the house. It is also basically non-toxic, having no poison in it.

It worked for us, and we had quite a few mice that we could not get rid of other ways. I guess mice love chocolate, too.

Controlling Field Mice Entries

Field mice can get into a hole as small as a dime. Check around the attic and outside the attic for small holes and droppings. Then buy the snap traps to catch them. Put the traps at the sides of walls laced with a thin layer of peanut butter so they have to work to get it and easily spring the trap.

We have had problems with field mice and this is the advice given to us by the pest control people.

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Resettable Traps

Do you keep the dog indoors or is it an outside dog? If you keep your dog indoors, you could keep a cat outside. If you keep your dog outside, you could keep a cat indoors.

If you are absolutely set against getting a cat, you could use one of those resettable mousetraps. You wind it up, and it catches (and keeps) up to 20 live mice at a time. At the end of the day (or whenever you choose), you simply dump the mice into a deep bucket of water. It takes about 30 minutes for them to drown. I know that this sounds yucky, but it’s better than having your house run over by mice. These resettable traps can be kept indoors or outdoors.

The problem with poison is that once the mouse dies, predators will eat the poisoned mice and die. BTW, dogs *do* eat mice (or at least my dogs do).

Seal the Holes

Try getting a few cans of foam insulation and plug up all the holes around your foundation, the holes around the base of your siding, and so on. It worked for me, back when I had a farm house.
Andrea B.

Creative Field Mice Control

This sounds strange but get some Chocolate Ex-Lax and put little chunks of it where you think they are coming in. If you want to get fancy, dip a small amount of it in some peanut butter and put it in the area. The Ex-Lax will give them the runs and they will not want to come back.

I was skeptical of this but tried it, and it works. It won’t totally get rid of them, but it’s a good start.

Riddex Electronic Repeller

I would highly recommend the Riddex Electronic Pest Repeller. I know, you’re probably saying, yeah sure, those things don’t work. I’m a pretty cynical person myself, but my apartment building has roaches and I’m scared to death of them. So I figured, for $30 bucks, it was worth a try. It’s been two years and I haven’t seen a roach yet. My apartment is inspected by a pest control company every few months and they have found no evidence of roaches either.

All you do is plug it in. It works with your electrical wiring and it aggravates the pests nervous system so they just go somewhere else. It doesn’t kill them. They just don’t like it so they leave and don’t come back. It’s perfectly safe for your dog. He will never know it’s there. I have two cats, no problem. You don’t have to worry about chemicals, or the stench of dead mice in your house. There are many of these products on the market but I wouldn’t recommend you buy them. The Riddex, in my opinion, is worth it’s weight in gold!

Expect a Battle!

We had a similar problem last year. We trapped over 2 dozen little critters and were still finding them everywhere. I finally called a pest control company and this is what I have learned from them.

You need to do as much as possible to eliminate their method of entry. Take tubes of “expanding goo” that you can purchase in any home store and seal any and all cracks into your home. If you have a garage, focus a lot of attention there.

Remove the food source. Mice love to eat grass seed. Many people store this in their garage. If you have some, put it in an airtight container so the mice aren’t attracted. Same goes for dog food. Dog food is VERY popular with rodents. If your dog is fed outside, be sure only to feed him when he is hungry and only feed him the amount he will eat at one serving. Don’t leave dog food lying around the house. Also, be sure to store your dog food in an airtight container as well. Rodents can smell through the paper and will eat through the bag to get to the food.

After following the above recommendations, we saw 2 mice earlier this fall in the garage, but none penetrated into our home.

You may have some success with baiting and trapping (peanut butter makes excellent bait). Eventually, though, the mice learn to avoid the traps. They will leave an appetizing piece of bait alone because they have seen what happens to foolish mice who take the bait. This was the point where I brought in the professionals.

I was worried about poisons because of two small children and two small dogs. The poisons used by pest professionals are wonderful. The type used in my traps – which are left year round in my garage as it is the first point of entry – contain poisons that make the mice thirsty. They leave in search of their water supply and die outside. After all the problems I initially encountered, I never saw a single dead mouse in or around my home. The bait/poison is very effective. Also, the traps are closed so that a pet or a child cannot get at the poison.

Also, sticky pads work wonderfully. These are typically scented like peanut butter. The mice are attracted by the smell and when they run over to see what smells so good, they get stuck on a substance like thick goo. In their attempt to free themselves, they end up killing themselves (sorry to be so unpleasant) by flipping around. These pads are also nice for trapping stray insects or lizards, both of which we have caught. These can be purchased in a home store as well. Here’s a hint. These pads are extremely sticky. If you use them and something gets stuck that you don’t want, cooking oil will enable you to remove the item.
Lisa P.

Bacon Fat High Wire Act

Years ago, our weekend cabin in the woods was overrun by field mice. My father used an old galvanized water tub (2 to 3 feet across, depth doesn’t really matter), and stretched a wire across it, securing the wire to the handles of the tub. Strung on this wire was a tin can with a hole punched in each end so that it would spin on the wire. Coat the can with bacon fat and fill the tub with water.

The mice would go crazy trying to get the bacon fat – of course, if they made it across the wire to the can, the can would spin them into the water and they would drown. After a week away from the cabin, we would often find dozens of mice in the tub.

Reviewed August 2021

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