How To Get Rid of Mice In Your Attic (7 Step Guide)

Do you want to know the best way get rid of mice in your attic?

You're in the right place!

In this article, you will learn how to…

  • Identify exterior mice entrance holes and cracks
  • Seal outside holes to stop mice intrusion (miss this step and you will never get rid of them)
  • Place traps in your attic and home interior
  • Trim trees and bushes to stop mice bridges
how to get rid of mice in the attic

I have seen many attics with terrible mice infestations. Some of my clients have walked away from million dollar home purchases because the attic was used as a dumping ground for these little critters.

The most common virus associated with mice in attics is hantavirus. This potentially deadly virus can be inhaled by humans that go into an attic, and breath in dust contaminated by mice feces or urine

Let’s get started with this guide!

About The Author

This article was written by Arie Van Tuijl founder of HomeInspectorSecrets.  Arie is a professional home inspector licensed in the state of Virginia and Maryland.

He has countless war stories helping homeowners avoid potentially $1,000s in hidden damage (including mice!).

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Exterminator For Your Mouse Problem?

Click here to check out our exterminator search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) exterminators in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Step 1: Seal The Exterior To Get Rid Of Mice

In my view as a home inspector, the most important step is to seal the exterior holes and cracks that a mouse can enter. Setting traps in your attic without sealing the exterior is like plugging a single hole in a water bucket while you ignore the other hole in the front.

It is well-known fact that the house mouse, one of the most common mammals on earth, can enter extremely tiny holes---about the size of a quarter inch. If a mouse can fit in its head, it will then be able to get in his whole body.

And at the speedy reproduction rate of mice, it can only take one pregnant female to start a massive mice population. The average female mouse can have 8 litters in a year, with about 4-6 young in each litter, so that is up to roughly 50 mice from just one pregnant female mouse.

During my home inspections, one of my most frequent recommendations is to “seal all wall penetrations”. These are generally the pipes, vents, cables, and other items that are attached or go through the wall such as the...

  1. Gas line
  2. Power line
  3. Power meter
  4. Vent covers
  5. Network cables
  6. Hose bibs

I recommend that you carefully and thoroughly walk along the outside of your home and look at everything sticking out of your wall. Frequently during my home inspections, I find sizable holes adjacent to vent covers, power lines and other pipes.

When you seal a hole, the EPA recommends that you insert steel wool into the hole, and then keep it in place with exterior caulking. Mice cannot chew threw metal which is why using steel wool or some similar metal is so important. If you only use caulking to seal the hole, it will not be effective in keeping out mice.

how to mice get inside your attic

For larger holes along the foundation, you can use cement or mortar to easily fill it in. You can also install either sheet metal, hardware cloth, or wire mesh --- and screw or nail it in place. Remember, any wire screen shouldn’t have holes larger than a quarter inch!

If your home has vinyl siding, make sure to repair any holes along the walls. There are vinyl siding repair kits, or you can replace a single vinyl siding panel. I find that vinyl siding corner posts are frequently damaged at the bottom, and mice will naturally use it to climb into your home.

See below image for example hole.

vinyl siding corner post hole for mice entry into attic

Since mice are prolific climbers, you also want to thoroughly inspect the upper reaches of the house such as the roof overhangs, chimney, gable vents, soffit vents, rake boards, and the fascia.

In my experience as a home inspector, deteriorated gable vents are one of the most common areas where mice can easily enter. I recommend simply installing a metal screen over the gable vents.

Step 2: Trim Trees & Shrubs To Stop Mice

It’s important to inspect and trim all trees and shrubbery away from your home. Mice are incredible climbers and can climb almost anything. Also, they can jump up to about a foot in height --- true athletes of the animal world.

In my home inspection reports, I always recommend trimming bushes at least one to two feet away from the home. Not only do bushes hide rodent activity from human eyes, but these bushes can help the little buggers sneak into your home. Shrubbery and other debris such as wood piles also give mice shelter.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your trash cans are well-sealed and off the ground.

In addition to shrubbery, I recommend trimming any tree limbs several feet away from your home. Tree limbs are great ways for mice to enter your home, and trees can also damage your home during storms leading to even more mice entrance holes.

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Exterminator For Your Mouse Problem?

Click here to check out our exterminator search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) exterminators in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Step 3: Choose The Mouse Trap In The Attic

There is a little ecosystem on the internet of people catching mice with ingenious homemade inventions. However, there are just two primary ways to get rid of mice in your attic, and they are through traps or poison.

One benefit of having mice in your attic is that you can trap and poison to your hearts content because there is no danger of pets or children messing with the traps.

For these traps (even the glueboards) it is a good idea to place a bit of food in the middle such as peanut butter.

The Indiana State Department of Health recommends using a tiny bit of bait (the size of a pea) because it is really used just for the smell. If you place too much bait, it increases the likelihood of attracting insects, as well as feeding multiple mice without triggering the trap.

Snap Traps

The most common way to get rid of mice in the attic is by using snap traps. These are the traps that bait the mice, and then snap close when the mouse moves a trigger --- killing it.

The classic snap trap is made from wood, and it uses a metal trip pedal and wire trigger. When the average homeowner thinks of a snap trap, the classic wood-based trap is usually what they imagine.

The classic snap traps are powerful and effective, but they do have drawbacks. For one, it is necessary to manually set the trap, putting your fingers in danger. In addition, touching the mouse is required in order to get rid of it after its trapped (always wear gloves when handling mice).

There are quite a few new snap traps on the market nowadays. These traps tend to be safer---less likely to hurt your fingers---and with some, you can even dispose of the mouse without touching it.

Live Traps

Live traps are very similar to snap traps, except that it catches the mouse alive. If you are hesitant about killing mice and want a more humane option, then this is the trap for you. There are even multi-catch live traps on the market that can live catch up to 12 mice at a time.

Just like with snap traps, you place a bait in the trap, and when the mouse moves the trigger, it quickly closes and captures the mouse.

When you release a mouse in the wild, I recommend releasing it at least 1-2 miles away from your home so it can’t find its way back to your home and nest.

Glueboards

Another very common type of trap is called a glueboard. These are plastic rectangles with glue on it so that when a mouse walks over it, it gets stuck.


If you are squeamish about mice at all, you may want to skip this type of trap. There is a decent chance that you will come across a struggling mouse with this trap, and you may have to finish it off.

It’s not likely that you will be able to release it to the wild either. The mouse will likely have broken bones and other bodily damage just trying to break free from the glueboard --- so killing the mouse will be more merciful.

If by chance the mouse is still okay, you can soak the glueboard in vegetable oil, thereby loosening its grip on the mouse.

Bait Blocks

These are cubes or blocks that are extremely tasty to attic mice, and they will even chew through packaging to get to them.

As stated by the National Pesticide Information Center, most bait blocks use some type of anti-coagulant which basically causes internal bleeding in mice. These mice bait blocks can be lethal to a mouse from just a single day feeding, unlike rat poisons which can take much longer.

Read Also: How do rat poisons work?

I have heard of some people recommend just throwing these bait blocks into the insulation, but I think that is a very bad idea.

For one, the mice have already ruined some of the insulation with their mice tunnels if the insulation is blown in fiberglass (or cellulose) which most attics have. Any time insulation is compressed, it loses insulating effectiveness and is largely damaged.

See below for a couple images of mice tunneling through insulation.

mice tunnel fiberglass insulation2
mice tunnel fiberglass insulation3

The downside of bait blocks is that the mouse will eat the bait block and go back to its nest hidden somewhere in the attic and die --- you will never find the corpse.

There are many homeowners who never smell rotting mice carcasses, but others do claim to smell it. Supposedly, bait blocks emaciate and dehydrate the mice body, and helps to prevent smell --- but actual odors may have a few different factors and hard to predict.

If the bait blocks are very successful, and kill a lot of mice, I think you can expect to smell a stench and it may become a problem.

In addition to free standing bait blocks, they can also be inserted into plastic “bait stations”. Using bait stations is much more child and pet proof that free standing bait blocks and is highly recommended for interior home use. Frequently, they have triangular shapes so they can fit neatly in a corner or some other inaccessible area.

Electronic Multi-Kill Trap

This is a new and revolutionary type of trap that uses electricity to shock and instantly kill mice. These traps can kill multiple mice at a time without having to be reset. I think this type of trap tends to be more humane than other trap types because of its instant kill method.

CO2 Powered Multi-Kill Trap

Another new type of mouse trap that can kill large number of mice without having to be reset is the CO2 powered trap. This device uses carbon dioxide to instantly kill a mouse in the attic. It lures the mouse to its opening using scent such as an irresistible chocolate smell.

Read Also: What're the best traps to catch mice?

Step 5: How To Install Traps In The Attic For Mice Removal

You want to place these traps primarily along walls and corners in the attic if possible. Mice can’t see that well actually, and they largely use their whiskers to help them sense objects. Mice like to stick next to walls and objects as the move.

You should place these traps lengthwise along the walls of your attic --- on top of ceiling joists, storage platforms, or on ceiling drywall (if there is scant insulation there). Another great area to place traps for mice removal are in attic corners. In addition, if there is clear evidence of mice in a certain area of the attic, this is a prime place to insert mouse traps.

Regardless of where you place your trap, it is a good idea to obstruct both sides of the traps with some object. It is a common frustration of trappers that mice in the attic eat the bait from the side, and never trigger the trap. If you obstruct both sides, then the mouse has no choice but to enter the trap from the front.

For all the traps (even the glueboards) it is a good idea to place a tasty bait. The best baits are high protein substances such as the classic peanut butter which mice seem to love. Remember to place a very tiny amount of bait, is used more for the scent, and a pea-sized amount is suitable.

I don’t recommend placing any type of trap on top of insulation. For one, the trap is more likely to fall over because the insulation isn’t a solid surface. Another reason is that you don’t want to ever compress insulation since it greatly reduces its effectiveness as a thermal barrier.

If your attic is missing significant areas of insulation, and you think mice may be running along ceiling drywall, then it is a good idea to place traps on the drywall. However, if you have a lot of insulation, I don’t recommend removing insulation just for mouse traps. Having inadequate insulation in the attic is one of the biggest reasons for higher HVAC costs. Also, if you have significant insulation, the mice will be using tunnels THROUGH the insulation anyways, and not walking along ceiling drywall.

Step 6: Check Traps Daily To Kill The Most Mice

It is important to check these traps regularly in your attic which quite frankly can become quite a chore especially if you don’t have built in attic stairs. If you forget to check your traps, the decaying mice can cause a big stink all throughout your home especially if you trap quite a few. The smell may even make the house temporarily uninhabitable.

Another reason is that you want to consistently reset these traps so you can kill more mice. There is no point to set one of these traps and just kill one mouse. In addition, sometimes mice set off these traps without getting caught.

And if you aren’t catching any mice, you will want to mix it up and place them in different attic locations.

Want To Just Skip All This Research And Hire A Decent Exterminator For Your Mouse Problem?

Click here to check out our exterminator search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) exterminators in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Step 7: Place Traps In The Homes Interior

In addition to installing traps in your attic, it is a good idea to also place traps in your home’s interior at the same time. The mice may be frequent travelers from your attic to your home and back.

The same considerations of attic mice trapping apply to your home’s interior, except for the fact that you should be mindful of possibly harming children or pets. Only place traps in inaccessible locations if that is a concern and if you will use poison, make sure to use child and pet resistant bait stations rather than free standing bait blocks.

Read Also: How much does a mouse exterminator cost?

Good areas to place traps in a home’s interior are…

  1. Behind Appliances: Insert behind kitchen oven, washer, dryer, water heater, and furnace.
  2. Along Walls: Place traps lengthwise along interior walls, preferably in little trafficked and hidden areas.
  3. Corners: Quiet corners are a great place to install traps.
  4. Cabinets: Mice are frequent travelers in our kitchen cabinets because of our tasty food. Place a few traps in the far corners.

According to the University of Kentucky, it can also be very helpful to have good food practices such as not leaving food out at night and making sure all food is well secured and air tight.

What’s The Deal On Attic Mice Removal?

Having a few mice may be a small nuisance, or barely noticeable. However, mice can also make mousy metropolises right above our ceilings --- ruining insulation with their tunnels, contaminating insulation with feces, chewing on electrical wiring (fire hazard), annoying scratching sounds at night, and even spreading diseases such as Hantavirus.

It’s important that we don’t let an ember ignite into an unstoppable mousey inferno.

When I have seen bad mice infestations, just the whiff of urine in the attic is almost unbearable. Mice contamination in certain cases can make a house even unlivable.

Fortunately, with modern traps, and sealing exterior entrance points, you can stop a mice problem from becoming a rodent nightmare.

If you have any doubts about stopping mice on your own, it may be a good idea to hire a qualified pest control company to set traps, as well as a qualified home inspector to look for entrance areas. You can always just pay for a consultation and implement their recommendations yourself.

Arie Van Tuijl is a licensed home inspector in the state of Virginia and maintains a home maintenance blog www.HomeInspectorSecrets.com. He also does specialty inspections such as for radon gas, termites, water intrusion, and commercial real estate.

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