I am not ashamed to admit that we had mice in our house last fall. We got so frustrated that eventually we called my exterminator, Glenn Buggs (yup, that is his name!). He came out and did a great job of placing poison around the building and we never saw another mouse. During our discussion, he gave me some great advice that I am going forward with at all my rental properties.
Mice typically live outside in holes, but come into your house to look for food. Occasionally they make a nest inside, but if you catch/kill them early you will prevent that. Wet years seem to be the worst for mice. Last year was terrible and everyone I spoke to had mice. Nice houses, old houses, new houses, city, suburb, it didn’t matter!
Glenn said that I should deploy a couple of bait stations outside my properties as a way to prevent mice from ever entering. These plastic boxes are very simple. It has a hole at both ends and it is filled with mouse poison (the box is well secured to prevent pets and children from accessing poison). These boxes are placed against the foundation. Mice find the box, eat the poison and then best of all, they craw into their hole outside and die.
Our goal in managing and maintaining properties is to minimize calls from tenants. I strive to properly repair things the first time so it eliminates future calls. As I have written here many times, preventative maintenance is also an excellent way to reduce those calls. So this year, I am putting two of these boxes at each rental property I own. I fill the bait box in the spring and fall.
My favorite box is one made by Tomcat. You can get them at Menards or Fleet Farm. The boxes cost about $15 each and huge bucket of bait is $10 (which should last you at least 12 months).