Add to Your Mouse Management Bag of Tricks


March 24, 2015

Photo: ©

Photo: ©

More than 70 years ago, there was a popular cartoon strip called “Felix The Cat.” He had a magic bag of tricks for arising challenges.

Allow me to share with you my magic bag of tricks. Each item has equal importance, and might be needed in particular situations.

Expect to inspect
⦁ Go beyond where the mice are a problem 30 to 50 ft., including nearby office complexes, apartment buildings and the exterior around all structures — particularly those with flat roofs.

⦁ Think 3D, including in suspended ceilings, wall voids and below floors.

⦁ Look for warmth, quiet, lines and shadows for areas of mouse activity.

⦁ Look for mice in live plants burrowed in potted soil.

⦁ Use an infrared camera to observe mice in walls.

⦁ Witness where the mice are active at night. This can be right after dusk or 10 minutes after an office complex closes for the day.

⦁ Move large objects from their stationary locations to force mice to reorient themselves and locate your traps better.

⦁ Flush mice hidden in a hollow door with a pyrethroid-based product containing piperonyl butoxide. Keep in mind, though, that in some states, you must have the target pest on the label to do so.

⦁ When providing an initial service with a known mouse problem, don’t set up the program and wait until normal service is due in one to four weeks. Return daily. Observe and modify your program.

A better mouse trap
⦁ Pre-baiting for mice might be practical in non-living areas such as crawlspaces and attics. Pre-bait snap traps for about four days, then set them. In most cases, you’ll achieve a higher initial trap count and avoid trap shyness. The same is true with glue boards: Leave the paper on for four days before removing.

⦁ When using snap traps, use many.

⦁ In difficult-to-reach areas, such as inside the bases of wooden pallets, slide in a 3- or 4-ft. board with six to eight snap traps attached and set. Record where you put them, and check them daily.

⦁ Three-inch-diameter PVC pipes make good protective devices for glue boards. To keep small birds out of glue boards on the exterior, place caps on both ends of the PVC pipe with small holes cut into each cap. Remember, mice can get through openings as small as a dime.

⦁ Try not to place glue boards and snap traps in corners. Come away from corners about 6 to 10 in. Normally, if mice are running along a wall, their vibrissae alert them a wall is coming up and to slow down. You want the mouse to be moving at a faster speed when it hits your control device.

⦁ Before setting snap traps, wait for them to reach room temperature. In very warm areas, the metal will expand; in colder areas, it will contract. If you set the trap too soon, it could go off by itself because of a temperature change.

⦁ There are usually two settings on a snap trap: “F” for firm and “S” for sensitive. In areas where vibrations are prominent, don’t set it on the sensitive side.

⦁ Insert a snap trap into a glue board in such a way that a mouse can reach over the glue and touch the board. Set the trap once pressed into the glue.

⦁ In very cold environments, such as commercial storage areas, mice grow thick coats of hair to survive. Put glue boards inside a box with a small light bulb to keep the glue from freezing. If you really want action, warm up chicken (or other food) and insert it in the glue in the box.

⦁ Young mice are caught more easily on glue boards than their elders because they have shorter vibrissae and less experience. Adult mice can teach juveniles to avoid glue boards, and even throw debris on the boards to make them ineffective.

⦁ Try plumber’s putty on the underside of glue boards and snap traps to keep mice from dragging them away if caught by a foot or tail.

⦁ If mice are running on the tops of low-profile, multiple-catch traps, place a glue board on top.

⦁ A wax candle is great for lubricating the lid on a multiple-catch trap so it can move more easily.

⦁ Don’t overwind a multiple-catch trap, because it might zing a mouse so quickly that it gets caught in the mechanism — which enables mice already caught to get out.

⦁ Mice communicate via urine. If the first mouse in a multiple-catch trap is an alpha male, it will repel other, less-dominant mice.

⦁ Regardless of the mechanical device, place it in such a manner that the mouse’s maneuverability around the device is minimized. It gives the mouse fewer options to avoid the device.

Fatal attraction
⦁ Find out what mice are feeding on, and use it on snap traps.

⦁ Avoid baiting snap traps with peanut butter because of potential allergy problems.

⦁ Mice in the wild are seed feeders. Look for such sources in birdseed, lawn seed and seeds for planting flowers.

⦁ Soap and crayons are good materials to bait snap traps. They provide lipids.

⦁ Dry oatmeal flakes are a good trap attractant.

⦁ Use cotton as an attractant, especially if nesting material is in short demand.

⦁ Most mice love the taste of chocolate. Excel Kittymalt Hairball Remedy Paste in a tube works well when baiting snap traps.

⦁ Dental floss makes a good snap trap lure. Dental floss dipped in melted chocolate that hardens on the floss makes a great one.

⦁ When baiting traps, use small amounts that don’t stick out far from the baiting surface. If too much is present, the mice can carefully obtain the bait without setting off the trap.

Foolproof follow-up
⦁ When removing a dead mouse, wear protective gloves. Use an inverted plastic or paper bag and slip it over the dead rodent and/or glue board. Carry it out of the account discreetly.

⦁ Record, map and analyze mouse counts. You’re looking for a location where mouse traps need to be set. If juveniles are caught, you’re close to the nesting area.

⦁ Clean up the droppings in an area to help determine whether you still have activity.

⦁ Sprinkle cornstarch to form a small patch to help determine whether mice are in an area.

⦁ Look into effective exterior door sweep and dock-door proofing.

⦁ Tell the client to keep grass low and debris at a minimum around the exterior. If you end up doing these tasks, charge accordingly. 

Pep talk for pipe placement
Dead mice on a heating pipe can emit foul odor. Initially, when mouse populations are high, don’t use rodenticide. Try to capture as many as possible through trapping. If mice are using ceiling or floor pipes as runways, bend glue boards to fit on top of the pipes and attach with tape.

As for pipe-chase areas, keep in mind you might need to cut access ports into them. You have to be able to observe inside these areas to inspect and eliminate any mice that are present.

Contact Dr. Austin M. Frishman, a PMP Hall of Famer, at


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