Have you ever had friends who wouldn’t leave your house, no matter how much you hinted that you wanted your own space? Perhaps you even subtly moved the snacks from the coffee table to the cabinets to discourage them from hanging out longer. You may have felt guilty for wanting them to leave since they were super-sweet and didn’t cause any trouble. The worst thing that they’d do is leave little crumbs on your countertops and occasionally deposit some poop in a corner of the room.

I’m talking about mouse “friends,” people! Even though mice are absolutely adorable and more afraid of you than you are of them, it’s understandable that you may not want a family of them calling your home their own. But removal methods like glue traps and poisons are exceedingly cruel and cause animals unimaginable suffering.

Not only that, they’ll also backfire. When rodents are killed or removed, more move in to take advantage of the newly available resources. That’s why you should follow this easy step-by-step deterrent guide if you ever find a mouse in your house:

1. Eliminate access to food.

Mice are less likely to hang around if you make it harder for them to get to their favorite thing: food. Keep counters, floors, and cabinets crumb-free, and store dry food, including pet food, in chew-proof containers.

2. Seal your trash.

Remember the scene in Charlotte’s Web when Templeton the rat has a full-on fiesta in the trash after the carnival closes for the night? No? Well, picture it, because that’s what your garbage might look like when you’re asleep if you don’t make it impossible for rodents to get into it. And I don’t mean that you should tie a pretty little bow with the trash ribbons: I’m talking sealed shut with a bungee cord, people.

3. Don’t leave out your companion animals’ food.

Think mice discriminate when it comes to human food versus animal-companion food? Well, they don’t. Be sure not to offer them a feast by leaving your cat or dog’s food out—pick it up once your animal companions are done grubbing.

4. Repel rodents with unpleasant scents.

You may be thinking, “Oh, come on. Bad smells? Mice like trash.” But here’s a secret: Mice hate the scent of peppermint. So buy peppermint essential oil (you can get it on Amazon.com or ask your yogi aunt for some), soak cotton balls in it, and put it in the infested areas. Ammonia-soaked rags work even better. (Ammonia can be purchased at any grocery store in the cleaning section.)

5. Find the mouse’s point of entry.

You need to go full-fledged private investigator on this mouse. Determine where the animal is getting into your house by using a flashlight to check for holes and cracks in the walls and floor and for gaps around pipes and doors, etc. Mice can squeeze through dime-size holes, so be diligent.

6. Seal off entry points.

Once animals have been repelled, seal off all the holes and cracks larger than a dime with steel wool, and then cover the area with foam sealant.

7. Buy a live-trap.

If animals are accidentally sealed indoors, they can be live-trapped during mild weather. Live-cage or box traps are only humane when they’re checked hourly. You can’t leave them out while you go to school or work since mice and rats can die from stress-induced disorders, exposure, or dehydration in just a few hours. Be sure to clean the traps thoroughly when not in use to get rid of any food smells so that you don’t attract more little “friends.”

You can find these at many hardware stores—just be sure to ask for live traps. Follow the instructions on the back of the box to use them.

8. Make a DIY trap.

In a pinch, you can make a humane mouse trap by placing dry oatmeal and peanut butter (I guess mice and I share the same favorite snack) at the bottom of a wastebasket. Stack bricks or books along one side so that the rodent can climb up and jump into the basket—once the animal is inside, he or she won’t be able to get out. Captured mice can be kept calm by placing a towel over the trap.

9. Release mice outdoors during mild weather.

Mice can die in unfamiliar areas because they won’t be able to find proper food or water and aren’t resistant to foreign parasites and diseases, so be sure to release them within 100 yards of where they were trapped. Since you’ve already sealed off the points of entry, you don’t need to worry about them finding their way back inside your house.

*****

Rodents like mice have the ability to feel a wide range of emotions and are as highly intelligent as dogs. They deserve our compassion and respect, so thank you for using this humane trapping method.

Are mice not the issue? Here’s how to remove bugs humanely from your home!