Should I Hire a Mice Exterminator or Get Rid of Mice Myself?

This stone foundations is vulnerable to mice infestation. All stones must be perfectly repointed outside and in.

Before trying to get rid of mice on your own, consider what a mice exterminator can do.

A mouse in the house can create a mix of fear, disgust, and filth, and left unchecked, will quickly turn into dozens or hundreds of mice. It is possible to get rid of mice yourself as a DIY owner/manager, but there are definite advantages to hiring a mice exterminator as well. This article reviews the basics.

Know Thy Enemy

According to Wikipedia, mice are — along with humans — one of the most successful groups of mammals on the planet. They are remarkably adaptable to varying food sources and environments. They reproduce quickly and in large numbers.

In the wild, mice eat fruits and grains from plants. In manmade settings, they will eat anything, including pet food, chocolate, peanut butter, and meat scraps.

On a per-weight basis, mice eat ten times more food than people. NPR reported that the average American eats close to 2,000 pounds a year, and the CDC reported an average body weight (men and women) of 182 pounds, which equates to eating 1.5% of our body weight each day. A mouse eats 15% of its bodyweight each day.

Mice are fertile when they’re about 50 days old. Gestation of a new litter takes 20 days, and under optimal conditions, produces 10 to 12 pups. Weaning takes three weeks, and then two to five days later the female can conceive again.

Well cared-for pet mice can live for approximately two years (the record is four years, see the rodent link below). This means a single breeding pair could theoretically produce approximately 150 offspring. This figure is highly dependent on temperature and food availability.

Mice teeth (like the teeth of other rodents) have evolved to grow continuously so they can continually be filed down and sharpened. This is partly why mice can destroy moldings, casings, walls, and electrical wiring.

Get Rid of Mice Yourself

Mice are inside to look for nesting material in the early fall and food sources throughout the winter. As an owner, there are many things you can do to get rid of mice yourself.

First, eliminate access to loose fluff, fiberglass insulation, blow-in insulation, old carpet, and other nesting materials.

Second, close off interior chaseways like holes for electrical wires and pipes. If  you have forced hot water heating, pay special attention to the holes around those pipes. They should be blocked with a copper wool mesh and black PUR foam. If you seal up all the chaseways in all your units, it will take an hour or two per unit. You will want knee pads, a flashlight, a butter knife or dowel, more copper wool than you think you need, tin snips, a trash bag, and PUR foam gun with a can or two of foam.

To close a chaseway, use the tin snips to cut off an appropriately sized piece of copper wool. Do this over your open trash bag to catch metal shards. Shape the copper into a donut, place it around the pipe and against the hole, and use the butter knife to jab the copper wool firmly into place. Squirt black foam around it. Don’t use “great stuff,” which is easier to chew through, and don’t do this when the heat is actively working , which can cause the foam to run. Repeat for every hole, no matter how small.

Third, close off exterior access. Pay attention to the lower corners of exterior doors, stone foundations riddled with holes, and the sills between the foundation and the frame. These must all be sealed perfectly to prevent rodent access.

Fourth, seal the interior foundation. Mice can burrow, so sealing the foundation above ground-level is not adequate. Seal the wall from inside the basement down to the basement floor. If you have a dirt floor, it is hopeless; put in a slab.

Fifth, once the place is sealed up, place traps and check them regularly. A mouse that is alive in a trap should be killed immediately for humane reasons. Place your thumb and index finger behind its skull. With your other hand, grab its tail and draw sharply back, holding the head in place. You will feel the spine snap and the mouse will be put to rest.

These forced hot water pipes are inadequately sealed against mice. They need copper wool, more of it than the steel wool pictured, and an application of PUR foam.

Hire a Mice Exterminator

Exterminators are licensed and trained to use lethal rodenticides in a safe way. For instance, under 333 CMR 13.08(1), rodenticides must be placed in tamper-resistant bait stations and secured so as not to be lifted. The bait station must also be labeled to identify the person or company who placed it there, the date it was placed, the EPA registration of the product inside, and the active ingredients of the product.

Applicators are also required to keep logs of where they applied baits, and share those logs with any person upon reasonable request.

As an owner/manager in a litigious age, hiring a licensed exterminator solves several problems beyond mice.

First, there is no question in a court’s eyes that you have taken appropriate action to address a vermin infestation. If it takes a long time to get rid of all the vermin, you won’t have liability the way you might if you were doing it yourself.

Second, you cannot be liable for improper or unlicensed application of a pesticide or rodenticide.

Finally, there’s a good chance that the mice exterminator knows more about mice than what can be learned in a newsletter article.

Whether you decide to hire a mice exterminator or get rid of mice on your own, don’t wait. Mice are one problem that multiply.

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