Ask Anthony: How to Deal With a Mouse Problem

Sheri Reed

anthony gilardi

It's Ask Anthony day again! That's right. Anthony Gilardi of HGTV's Myles of Style is back today with answers to your home repair questions.

Have a home repair question? Ask Anthony your questions in the comments below. Anthony is one helpful handyman.

This week, Anthony answers a CafeMom's question about her problem with mice. Eek!

Q: Dear Anthony, we have mice again. Every time I think I've sealed up the basement, they find a way to get in. I won't go into the gory details of how we're getting rid of them, but if you have some great suggestions, I'd love to hear them! And what I'd really love to know is how to mice and rodent proof the house without having to call an exterminator. We just can't afford that right now. Thanks.

Cafe Cynthia

A: Hi, Cynthia. Thanks for writing in.

Oh boy, mice... I can see you on top of the chair with a broom in your hand, LOL. Well, I have some good news and some questions.

Let’s assume that you’re sure that you have mice and not baby or small rats. NOTE: Rats will usually not be seen after dawn and before dusk unless they are sick or dying. Mice are more likely to be seen in cabinets and other places where food is stored at any given time. Mice have rounded ears and a smaller tail where as rats have pointier ears and a longer tail (oh yeah, and chisel-like teeth).

But enough about the disgusting details. The good news is, rule of thumb, if you have mice, you don’t have rats. Now I know that sounds like an old myth, but there is truth to it. The logic is: mice and rats don’t coexist because mice will become prey to the larger rodent.

Okay, let’s do some “Gilardi Home Detective” work:

Judging by the info you gave me, it sounds like the mice are coming in from the outdoors, leading me to believe they are field mice and may or may not be nesting in your home. Can I also assume you live in a rural area opposed to an urban area? BTW, I consider a rural area home to be a structure where there are no other structures attached. And, assuming this info to be true, am I right by saying this is a seasonal problem (seeing that we are in February, I’m guessing you live in an region where you have seasons)? I’m gathering this from the statement: “we have mice again.” This statement also leads me to believe that you never quite “took care” of the problem (properly at least).

Here are a few things we can do ourselves without paying for an exterminator. Let’s make these mice an offer they can’t refuse.

  1. We’ll start in the basement with the usual suspects. We are going to seal every visible and obvious crack, hole, opening, seam, etc, in walls, ceilings, and floors with steal wool. THEN, properly cover those areas permanently with a piece of thin sheet metal. Seal the entire perimeter of the sheet metal with weather resistant silicon or caulking. You can cover the area with any material you want from there, such as drywall, wood, plaster, concrete…whatever the area calls for.
  2. Now, I’m not a big fan of traps and poison, particularly if you have small children (MOMS!) or pets. However, there are some “family-safe” alternatives. I found a website for you with more info:
  3. Now, let’s move to the kitchen, pantry, and every other area where we store food. Do some snooping around looking for more holes, cracks, etc, and repeat the same process as we did in the basement. Another thing that I strongly suggest is not storing your food in perishable boxes or containers. I know this may be a lifestyle change, but you might want to start getting used to storing items like cereal in Tupperware. I know, I know...but mice are looking for warmth and food. If we take these things away, your mice will have no use for you.

Let’s start there and see what happens.

And repeat after me: M- I- C- K- E- Y- please- just- go- a-way!

Sorry, Moms, couldn’t help myself.

Talk to you soon.


As always, we appreciate your help, Anthony, especially when it means getting rid of tiny rodents!

+++ Ask Anthony your home repair questions in the comments below. He'll be back in two weeks with an answer for at least one lucky person!

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