My house is under attack by mice. Droppings everywhere, holes in boxes and plastic bags. I'm not a killer, so, I decided to use a humane trap. With it, I caught 8 mice in 2 days, not bad. But I only decimated them, not eradicated them, so more to go. I can hear them at night.

I'm quite happy with my traps and bait; the problem is now the weather is 10F degrees outside, and 20" of snow. I won't put the mice out there until it's a bit warmer, but I can't just not trap them, either.

I've got a mouse now that I've trapped and placed in an empty fish tank, I just lined the bottom with paper towels and placed a dish of water and bait for food.

I know next to nothing about keeping mice, my intention is to release any that I catch as soon as the weather turns; but how do I care for them in the meantime? Do I have to worry about disease, or fleas, or getting bitten? What happens if I do get bit?

The mouse, by the way, is having a temper tantrum, ostensibly from getting caught. He (or she) has already torn up all of the paper towels into confetti, after one night, and seems to be testing the best choice places to eliminate his/her bowels. That includes in the water bowl and food dish. And everywhere else. So, how often do I have to change the linings, food, and water?

And for posterity, I might as well learn how to sex the mouse... how do I do that?

And if I manage to catch more, should I keep them together or put them in separate tanks? I don't want babies. (I have one more tank suitable for this purpose, the others I have are not large enough or don't have adequate covers on top).

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    I don't have enough info for an answer, so pending a good answer. Here are a couple of pointers.Yes you should worry disease. Shredding paper is a natural thing. Much like cats, you can tell mature males easily, but everything else could be female or a young male. Mar 16, 2017 at 9:46
  • Thanks for the help James. Actually, I don't intend to keep the mice, only just long enough to wait for the weather to calm down, which could be several weeks away. My problems grow, as my daughter is now growing a liking to it right now, so will have to deal with anxiety from her when I get rid of it.
    – Andrew Jay
    Mar 16, 2017 at 10:53
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    One bit of advice for the future: When you do release it, take it far away from your house: several miles at least. Otherwise, you may have a repeat visitor.
    – jalynn2
    Mar 16, 2017 at 13:09
  • Miles?? Oy, I've been taking them about 200-300 yards. When should I expect them to come back?
    – Andrew Jay
    Mar 16, 2017 at 13:48
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    @Wigwam, they are probably back before you get your shoes off. You might only have one mouse, that you have caught and released 8 times. Mar 16, 2017 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


Hantavirus from their droppings is no bueno - potentially lethal. Sanitize, fortify and secure the home to rid the presence of them and prevent their re-establishing habitation there. Consider ultra-sonic and predator scent abatement. If you are catching that many mice, then you need to establish a perimeter, clean the inlets into your home from the foundation to the roofing. Remove attracting scents, plug the holes which they get in through and remove existing nesting and food sources, other remains and especially their droppings.

That said, do not domesticate wild animals by trapping them. You may have sequestered a mother from her nursing babies. Whatever the case, you have a trapped, terrified animal you are effectively torturing. Kill it (and then eat it) and be done with the pest, or release it. The mouse has made it this far in life and can fend for itself in inclement weather. I don't think you are doing it any favor by sequestering it. If you want a pet mouse, just buy one from a reputable dealer and research mouse care.

In the comments, you mention your child's attachment. This is a great opportunity to learn together about making a safe home, the liabilities of wild animals (fleas, bites, disease) and the humane treatment of wild critters. Also, yes: release them miles away. You could make it a picnic or hiking excursion with your family? That way your child will have a goodbye ceremony to commemorate the end of an emotional attachment. This might also be a good time to broach the subject of pet mortality if they are old enough.

I don't mean to come off as judgmental or disapproving. I know "torture" is a strong word, but a trapped wild animal is in a very high stress situation without any pattern of contact as a ground for establishing trust with what is otherwise a captor (you). This might also be a great time to buy a kitten or re-home a good mouser of a cat. I would imagine this would be very effective in ameliorating any separation anxiety your child has after the mouse is gone.

  • Thanks for the tips. Re hantavirus... it seems I have a bigger problem than the mice, my attic and basement show presence of mice. I know it needs to be cleaned, I just don't know methods. Re plugging holes... done that already, not much to do anyway, only one hole is garage door and requires a fox I can't do on my own. Re trapping... I don't want them, although the teaching moment for my kids is a great idea. Re nursing... they're separating anyway, whether I hold them for release, or release them. Re eat them. The only recipe I have for mouse is ratatouille - does that count? lol
    – Andrew Jay
    Mar 17, 2017 at 15:08
  • Re good-bye ceremony, good idea - but my daughter is a teen and would just as soon have a good-bye ceremony for me, and would follow the mouse before coming back home with me, unless I hid her phone :-( Re kitten/cat - we have 3 already, and are good mousers - they've killed at least 4 in the last 2 months, leading me to get the traps. However, they have their own issues, and are sequestered for different reasons.
    – Andrew Jay
    Mar 17, 2017 at 15:09
  • Good idea on the picnic. We have regular business that can take us away, so that's a good idea.
    – Andrew Jay
    Mar 17, 2017 at 15:13

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