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Feb 6, 2014 07:18 AM

Mice in apartment


We've been in our apt for 10 years. Several months ago, the tenants next door to us were evicted because their place was a disgusting, filthy mess. They had pets and didn't let them out to do their business, just for starters. The apt went through major renovation to get it ready for new tenants, and there have been new people in there for a while now.

I noticed mouse poop under the sink. We don't keep any food there, but the trash is in there. We moved the trash out and got a trash container with a lid, and I cleaned everything out with bleach but they are still coming in. The apt complex put steel wool around the openings, but that's done nothing. They put down glue strips, and the next day we found one covered with mouse hair and poop where one had obviously pulled himself off the strip. I have things pretty well sealed and don't see any signs of them chewing or being anywhere but ground floor level (we live in a ground floor apartment), but it bothers me they are there. I complained about the glue strips' ineffectiveness and they are going to get some kind of box traps, but they refuse to do anything to the rest of the building (11 other units in my building) because according to them, if the other tenants don't complain, they're "only in my suite." I think that's ridiculous. If you don't exterminate the whole building, they will still be there. No?

I'm wondering what the danger to my food is, if any others have had experience with getting landlords in apartment units to treat this problem, any other feedback/suggestions you have.

  1. R & R, "pretty well sealed" isn't good enough as mice can squeeze through very small spaces in your walls. Having had the problem too, here's what I did.
    1. Got a cat, a mouser, nothing too pure bred. Leave the area under the sink open for the cat. The cat's scent might be enough to persuade the rodents to set up housekeeping elsewhere.
    2. Sealed around all wires and pipes with foam insulation. Mice can tear and chew through steel wool.
    3. Get better glue boards. Good ones hold forever. Put them right flat against a wall where you have signs of mice intrusion. Mice are almost blind and travel by feel along walls.
    3. Store your bread, flour, cereals, etc., in your oven or some other sealed vessel.
    4. Ground level apartments are vulnerable. What's under you? Check around your waste/drain pipes and electrical wiring entry points. That's where my mice got in.

    The cat eventually got the upper hand and we have been rodent free for years.

    7 Replies
    1. re: iamafoodie

      I disagree on a couple of points.

      Mice can chew through foam much more easily than steel wool -- they really don't like metal on their teeth!

      Glue traps are cruel. The mouse will struggle for minutes or even hours before it dies. Even if you don't care about the suffering of the mouse, do you really want to deal with the live stuck mouse or wait for it to die, listening to the sound of a dying mouse? Use a snap trap.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Agree with Ruth. The previous owners of our house filled every crack with foam, and seven years later the mice are still chewing through them.

        And mice on glue traps scream. For a long time. They scream and scream.

        1. re: NonnieMuss

          I used steel wool covered with foam. They eventually chew but it works until they do.

          1. re: NonnieMuss

            I had the old-fashioned snap-wire on wood traps in my garage. On more than one occasion, the mouse was trapped but not killed, leaving me having to drown or freeze it. I prefer humane traps and releasing them(hopefully) far enough away that they don't return.

            A friend swears by mothballs tossed in vulnerable spots.
            If there are kids or pets, the mothballs should be tied up in window screen mesh. I used to hear rustling at the bottom of the stairs at night. I threw some mothballs down and that very night, there was frantic squeaking from this spot, as though a mouse was cussing me out.
            Never heard it again, though I think there are still some mice in the garage.

            Some people think mint oils repel mice, others say it's an old wive's tale.

            1. re: greygarious

              I have had fantastic results with mint, lavender, and clove essential oils as I mentioned above.

              I have never had a mouse that survived a wire trap. I use a mix of peanut butter and flour as bait, molded around the bait platform.

          2. re: Ruth Lafler

            wool/foam etc are band-aid measures. a few years back, sewer work in my old hood got the rodent residents active and exploring. casually ask other tenants if they've noticed increased activity. w/o ID'ing my house I posted a question like that on my block's listserv and got corroboration from the other houses - I really was just verifying it wasn't my habits. my landlady's crew (thankfully she was great about all things pest) sealed the opening around the pipes with some sort of really foul smelling concrete mastic compound. THAT worked like a dream.

            glue traps suck - but if you do... keep a drowning bucket nearby to cut its suffering short or stock up on ear plugs. better to just snap the little bastard's neck fast and clean.

            ovens aren't mouse proof. not conventional ones anyway - the shits only need 1/4 of an inch to squeeze through and can jump as high as the cooktop. maybe a m/w or a cooler would work better, but it's still an intolerable situation for a tenant and in some cities vermin are grounds for withholding rent. and you are right, they're like cockroaches, once they're in, they can be anywhere in the building, often for no good reason (ie no food in that room).

            I hate that period of compulsively wiping and twice washing and general paranoia.

            food safety - unless you or guests are infants, elderly or immune-compromised I wouldn't freak out TOO much, unless it's an event like I had once as child pouring my cereal into the bowl and a mouse came with it. THAT went into the trash. but check the boxes/wrappings/bags carefully for gnaw marks before using.

            1. re: hill food

              "...better to just snap the little bastard's neck fast and clean..."
              - Likey

              I was going to reply to Nonnie about the length of screaming: not too long after squashing their head with your bootheel...
              But erred on the genteel side.

        2. Call the landlord and tell them you want a professional exterminator STAT and if they don't oblige then call whatever authorities you have to call in order to get the job done.
          Let the exterminator tell you what you need to do and then go rescue a cat whose pheromones don't allow rodents within a city block from your residence.
          It's amazing to me how many people are willing to put up with this problem for various reasons, one being the inability to comprehend how the 'poor mouse' dies.
          I had a friend who thought the same thing until she found one in her daughter's crib. Things changed quite rapidly after that.

          1 Reply
          1. re: latindancer

            I eventually started taking pictures in case I ever decided to call the authorities. It was getting awful. I now have a cat and they were still roaming around for a while. In fact, there was a very entertaining cat-mouse showdown one night that I witnessed but now I think perhaps his smell keeps them away but I never actually feel like they are gone completely.

          2. The cheep snap traps with peanut butter. If you see mouse droppings in the area, put out a couple. Freshen the peanut butter every other day. Throw out the whole trap when a "catch" is made and replace with a fresh trap (around here they are 50 cents each)

            Put all of your food in plastic containers at least. They can chew through rubbermaid, but they look for easier pickings first. And keep your kitchen spotless. During mouse season, I keep a spray bottle of clorox on hand to clean everything

            3 Replies
            1. re: autumm

              Agree about the snap traps and peanut butter. It's worked for me.

              1. re: Bob Martinez

                It's worked for me too. It worked great for a few weeks and then stopped working all of a sudden.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  they ain't stoopid. seriously, they are clever little critters.

            2. I don't live in an appartment, but in a house in a small town. Some years, we get mice, some we don't.

              Perhaps you can complain to the landlord and perhaps something will get done. In the meantime, take charge and get traps (a cat is a lifestyle change).

              I think glue traps aren't very effective (and I don't like cats), so I use old fashioned, Viceroy traps (dollar store traps tend to fail more that the Viceroy).
              Some people swear by peanut butter. Me? I romantically use sliced cheese.
              Buy about four or six (traps, not slices of cheese) and set in out-of-the-way places where you see their turds. Check them in the mornings and when you come home from being out. If you get one, un-snap the carcass in the garbage and re-set.

              Continue setting traps day and night until you stop catching them.

              12 Replies
              1. re: porker

                Porker -- my dad will reuse the traps. I ... can't. It all goes out -- the mouse and trap. I'll spend the extra dollar not to deal with it.

                1. re: porker

                  "I romantically use sliced cheese."

                  Why do I immediately draw a picture of you setting a tiny table, with a lit candelabra and perhaps some tiny sliced grapes to compliment the cheese?

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    That is a good picture, maybe some Venetian opera as background music?

                    Everyone says to use peanut butter, that its the best bait. I'm not arguing the fact, just that +/- 40 years of Looney Tunes has SOME effect.
                    Every time I have to set traps, I kinda wish we had yellow swiss cheese with holes, but alas, I have to pilfer the mother-in-law's processed, individually wrapped, plastic cheese....

                    1. re: porker

                      While I've successfully used peanut butter, my original bait on my first mouse hunting expedition, was bacon.

                      Yes, bacon.

                      I'd cut off a tiny piece and put it on the metal trigger. Then I'd hold a lighted match under it until the bacon released its scent and fused on to the metal.

                      I caught a bunch of them.

                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                        You and porker really like to get my imagination going. So correct me if I'm wrong please. You took a very small uncooked piece of bacon, but it on the arm of the trap, then cooked it with a match, too allow the aroma flow to the mice?

                        No offense but it sounds to me like you and porker should join up and do some table side service for mice. He set's the table and ambiance then you come out and cook for them table side. It's really a hell of a way to serve them their last meal.

                        Memo in Mice New's Letter;
                        New Restaurant it's to Die For !!!

                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                          " first mouse hunting expedition..."

                          Mrs Porker is terrified by mice and she hates the fact that I get satisfaction out of catching them.

                          I explained that its a primal thing. I used to fish and hunt a lot, but with our life today, these are but rare occurrences. So whats left? I hunt down articles in the grocery store (big deal...), or the best parking spot (well there is some thrill in getting the spot next to the handicap parking), or once a year, mice.

                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                            I have had great success with pieces of bacon mixed into peanut butter.

                      2. re: porker

                        The advantage of peanut butter is that the mouse can't grab it and pull it off the trap.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          But I like the challange of getting the cheese just right to snap the little bastard.
                          Sometimes the cheese is gone and the trap not triggered. Well, its mouse 1, porker 0 and I respect the mouse's cunning.

                          1. re: porker

                            If the mice are stealing cheese from the traps, bait as usual, then set the traps in the oven for a few minutes. The cheese will be melted onto the trap, and the mouse working to get it off is guaranteed to snap the trap.

                      3. Great advice so far.

                        Anything you have in a cardboard box, consider storing in glass. Draconian, I know, but it works. Or get a large, thick Rubbermaid tote that snaps shut (a big one, big enough for comforters) and put your boxed stuff in there. Stop gap, but better than exposed. Don't store anything that is merely wrapped or boxed on counters or in cabinets.

                        The mice are reproducing (not to be dramatic). Get your landlord on this now. INSIST on it. This is a health concern. If s/he doesn't follow up by the end of the day with a professional exterminator visit appt time for you, tell him you're snapping photos of the poop to email to the Board of Health/whatever the appropriate body is in your city or town. That email will go out tomorrow without a firm date.

                        Meantime, yes, snap traps. Peanut butter and spray cheese work wonders.

                        And seriously consider a cat.