Mano a Mano, Man vs. Mouse: Hand Trapping Tips

By , March 2, 2016

Michelle is currently waging war against garden raiders. Some rodents, either voles or mice, have been nibbling the shoots off her flower bulbs, and, amazingly, eating our horse radish! Her first step to start the garden this year seems to wreak havoc among the crop spoilers.

Her trap setting and calling down curses upon the small furry heads of her nemeses reminds me of when we used to trap mice by hand.

We learned how to trap mice by hand before moving to the homestead. One winter mice invaded our suburban home while we were between cats.

Mice are like terrorists in that their reputation is much larger than reality. Stripped of the assumption that they are unstoppable, Mice are small and fast. They do their best to remain invisible. We watched for movement out of the corners of our eyes, especially along baseboards and edges of furniture. We rarely saw a mouse run across an open floor, unless they got truly desperate, or complacent.

Eye contact is key. We’ve all heard stories of mice and other small animals being mesmerized by snakes. This actually happens, probably because snakes don’t blink! I’ve found that once a mouse makes eye contact, it will hold completely still. The first, slightest shift of your gaze, and they’ll vanish. We learned not to talk to each other while hunting, because our eyes involuntarily flicker toward a speaker, breaking eye contact long enough for a mouse to escape! If you can keep your eyes locked on it, you can often approach a mouse very closely.

We either grabbed mice with heavy work gloves, or scooped them up in a square-mouthed bucket. If we tilted the bucket up quickly, they couldn’t escape.

Herding improved our chances. One Yuletide we blocked the living room doorway with a line of Christmas gifts to prevent a mouse from escaping! Any barrier more than 4 inches high should keep them from “going over the wall.”

Mice have weak hearts. Experts say “timid as a mouse” rings true. Apparently, if a cat catches a mouse, and it escapes, it may be so traumatized that it will move its family out of the cat’s home! Likewise, the sounds of a mouse being trapped or hunted can scare other mice into leaving. Loud noises, sudden moves, even unsuccessful chases through the living room can have a positive effect, even if the method itself seems to have failed.

Here on the homestead we see deer mice now and then, although we don’t see as many of them as we see of voles, which seem to have a rather different temperament.

Luckily, we have at least one mink living up near the wind generator, and ermines patrol the property. Both love to eat the rodents that love to eat our produce. We still set traps for them, but we rarely have to hunt them by hand anymore.

4 Responses to “Mano a Mano, Man vs. Mouse: Hand Trapping Tips”

  1. Jon Marshall says:


    One of the things that worked for us here in Utah. We live in an old house from the 20’s and we live in an area that has lots of mice. We used the home remedy of one part sugar, one part flour and one part baking soda. We mixed it together and put it on some paper plates in separate areas of the house and we did see tracks in it and their little droppings, we have not seen or had any sign of mice since. Its a non toxic pesticide. What we were told the flour makes them thirsty and when they drink the baking soda expands and well you know the rest. Worked for us. These ones would not hold still with eye contact.


  2. Terri says:

    I have heard that mice do not like peppermint oil. The article stated that a cottonball with peppermint essential oil will repel them. I haven’t tested the theory but I am sure I will in the future.

  3. Mark Zeiger says:

    Interesting, Jon! I’ve heard of the same thing with potato flakes, not baking soda. Your method sounds easier, as I’d rather have baking soda tracked around the house than dehydrated potatoes!

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    I’ve heard that, too, Terri. Actually, it seems all the world is repelled by peppermint oil. It’s supposed to work on just about every household pest.

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