Just Saw a Mouse in Your Apartment? Here’s What to Do

Lilly Milman

By Lilly Milman

Jul 27, 2023

If a mouse just scurried across your kitchen floor, resist the urge to jump on a table. The task may seem daunting, but it is more than possible to get rid of mice in your apartment. We’re here to help.

In this guide, we cover:

Keep reading for our full guide on how to identify mice in your apartment, how to get rid of mice and avoid rodent problems in the future, and more.

How to Know if You Have Mice in Your Apartment

If you haven’t actually seen a mouse but suspect that there may be one (or, more likely, a few) in your apartment, there’s a few ways of finding out for sure.

Mouse Droppings

One of the most common ways of finding out that there are mice in an apartment is through their droppings. Look for droppings that look like brown or black grains of uncooked rice. Mice like to stay near a food source, so check any cabinets, pantry spaces, closets, or drawers where you store food.

Chewed-Up Food Packaging

If there’s a mouse raiding your pantry, they won’t be subtle about it. Paper, thinner plastic, or cardboard box packaging will likely have holes in it and will show signs of being eaten. If a package of flour that you’ve hardly used is half-empty, then it was most likely a mouse’s dinner.

Foul Odor

You might smell the mouse in your apartment before you see it. The area with mice droppings may have a foul odor, and mouse urine has an ammonia-like smell.

Your Pets’ Behavior

It isn’t a myth that cats are natural mouse hunters. If your normally docile cat seems like they’re pacing, sniffing around your cabinets or baseboards, or pouncing a lot, they may be on the hunt for a house mouse. Of course, this could be playful, but if they suddenly start to be hyper-focused on hunting, you may have a mouse problem.

Just Saw a Mouse in Your Apartment? Here’s What to Do

Noises at Night

During the day, it’s likely going to be too loud in your apartment to hear a mouse squeaking. However, at night, when the rest of the home is quiet, you may start to hear some scurrying or scratching noises. Pay close attention to the ambient noise in your apartment at night to try to hear some evidence of mice.

How to Get Rid of Mice in Your Apartment

If you find any evidence of mice in your apartment, you may be grossed out, but don’t panic. This is a common issue that you and your landlord should be able to solve relatively quickly. Take the following steps to get rid of mice in your apartment.  

1. Call your landlord or property manager.

If you noticed any of the above signs in your apartment, then it’s time to call your landlord. Pest control usually falls under a landlord’s responsibilities — but even if it doesn’t in your case, you’ll still want to let them know. They may call a professional exterminator or have a process for ridding the apartment of mice themselves. Plus, this will let them know that there are mice in the building, which will allow them to make sure the whole building is taken care of rather than just your unit.

2. Find the source or nest of the mice.

To get rid of mice, you and your landlord will likely need to set up a humane trap or natural repellant. For this to be most effective, though, you’ll want to know where the mice are congregating in your apartment. To do this, you’ll need to put your detective hat on and follow the evidence. Identify the areas where you saw the most droppings, urine, tracks, bite marks, or holes in food packaging. A mouse nest may also be in a dark corner or behind furniture, so be thorough in your search.

3. Set humane mouse traps.

At this point, you, your landlord, or the exterminator will need to set the traps. There’s a few different options for humane traps, and you can decide together which is the right choice for your apartment. Snap traps, electronic traps, and poison traps will kill the mouse, while live traps and glue traps won’t (although glue traps are considered inhumane.) While live traps are the most humane, they allow the mice to continue to possibly spread bacteria and disease while caught in the trap. Poison and pesticides should also be considered a last resort because it can be dangerous for children or other pets. If you are setting the traps yourself, make sure to wear gloves to prevent human scent from getting on them and deterring the mice.

4. Check the traps regularly.

While you are in the process of eliminating the mice, you will need to check the traps set regularly — at least a few times a day. You’ll want to put some gloves on and dispose of the mouse immediately. Do not dispose of dead mice in any trash receptables inside of your apartment; not only will it smell, but it will continue to be a danger to your health if it’s inside your home.

Once you’ve caught the mice in your apartment, you’ll want to prevent any more from coming in. You’ll also want to clean up and disinfect any area where you think the mice had been. Read on to learn about preventing mice from getting into your apartment.

How to Prevent Mice in Your Apartment

Effective pest control involves proactive and preventative measures as well as reactive ones. So, it isn’t enough to trap the mice that are in your apartment; you’ll need to take some steps to prevent future infestations as well.

1. Store your food properly.

Mice carry diseases, so you’ll want to make sure that you don’t eat anything they might have touched. If you find any suspicious holes in any food products, you’ll want to discard those immediately. Then, store any goods that come in paper, cardboard, or thin plastic packaging in sturdier food containers. This may include cereal, flours, sugar, pasta, and even dry pet food like kibble. Consider getting glass jars or airtight plastic containers for this type of food and grains.

Store any goods that come in paper, cardboard, or thin plastic packaging in sturdier food containers. This may include cereal, flours, sugar, pasta, and even dry pet food like kibble. Consider getting glass jars or airtight plastic containers for this type of food and grains.

2. Vacuum regularly.

Food is what attracts mice in the first place, so to prevent them from coming back, you’ll want to eliminate all potential sources of food in your apartment. So, it’s time to vacuum up all of those crumbs. Create a cleaning schedule that is doable for you and will allow you to vacuum and sweep your apartment regularly, as well as clean your countertops and kitchen often. Try to avoid leaving lots of clutter around as well, as clutter creates hiding spots for mice

3. Cover your trash can.

Your kitchen garbage may be a source of food that’s attracting mice. Get a can with a secure cover if you don’t already have one, and keep it closed at all times to prevent the future spread of mice.

4. Find and close any cracks, holes, or gaps.

You may be wondering how mice even got into your apartment. Likely, there’s a little hole, crack, or gap in the wall or by a window sill somewhere that you haven’t noticed. Check by doorways and windowpanes, as well as by the baseboards around your floors for entry points. You can try to identify how the mouse got in yourself, but you’ll probably need help from your landlord to fill the holes or make any repairs. An exterminator can also help you figure out where the mice got in.

5. Use natural repellants in at-risk spaces.

Did you know that the smell of peppermint is a deterrent to mice and other pests? If you put some peppermint oil on cotton balls and place them around the areas where you found a lot of evidence of mice, this can be a DIY solution to deter future pests from returning.

Tenant’s Rights if You Have Mice in Your Apartment

To find out what your rights are if mice get into your apartment, you’ll need to start by checking your lease. All states have warranty of habitability laws, which outline the rights of renters to a safe and habitable living environment, but the exact terms of those laws vary; so, some states may not include clauses on rodent control. However, the terms of your lease will likely have a clause about who is responsible for pest control and extermination fees.

In many states, your landlord will be responsible for helping you get rid of a mouse infestation; and in any case, it is in their best interest to keep their buildings pest free. However, if the mice infestation was caused by your actions (like if you left crumbs or lots of dirty dishes out), you may be responsible for paying for the extermination.

If your landlord has been notified of the mice and is not addressing its removal, then check your states laws about rodent removal. If it falls under your landlord’s responsibilities, then you may consider meeting with a legal professional who will advise you further. In some states, you may even be allowed to deduct the cost of pest extermination from your rent or withhold rent until the issue is fixed.

The Bottom Line

Finding signs of mice in your apartment may be your worst nightmare, but you shouldn’t panic. If you think you spot mice droppings, tracks, bite marks, or hear any mice, then don’t hesitate to contact your landlord and start the extermination process. Once you’ve started to take care of the mice in your apartment, also make sure to keep it clean and take preventative measures to ensure the mice don’t return.

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