Dealing with mice and rodents in your home can be a daunting and terrifying experience.
Mice not only make a mess of things but can also bring with them a host of diseases that humans can contract very easily.
Having mice in your home can throw a variety of problems at you so the first sign of mice in your home is when you need to act. There is no time to waste if you spot a mouse in the house. Either give a call to the local exterminator if you feel too overwhelmed to do it on your own or get down to work and start setting the bait and mouse traps.
In the following article, you will learn more about the behavior of mice and identify if you have mice in your home. You will be able to get rid of mice and also keep them out of your house using this article as a guide.
But first, let’s learn something about mouse behavior and how they can enter your home.
Can Mice Climb?
Do mice, rats, and other rodents have the ability to climb things?
The terrifying answer, in short, is, ‘yes’.
Mice have the ability to climb walls, climb water pipelines. If you are sleeping peacefully on your bed, unfortunately, mice can also climb on top of beds!
In fact, mice can conduct this upward mobility easier than rats and other big rodents can as they are lighter and quicker on their feet. Their claws are tiny and they have nails that are sharp which allow them to climb vertical surfaces without any trouble.
If this news is too upsetting for you, you may take solace in knowing that a rat or mouse will only climb onto your bed if you have a serious infestation.
Under normal circumstances, they like to be reclusive and stay in areas they will not be seen in. The bed, naturally, is a very conspicuous place for a rodent to hang out. So if you have prevented an infestation, there is a good chance that the mouse will not come visiting you on your bed. But they can climb pipes, walls and even jump a certain distance so an elevation will not necessarily keep you safe from mice.
It is, however, easier for mice to climb surfaces that are not completely smooth. If there is some texture on the surface, it is easier for the mouse to establish a grip and climb.
For example, if there is a flat metal surface, the mouse may have more trouble climbing it. Even when it comes to vinyl siding, there is a good chance mouse cannot climb that as it may be too smooth to get a grip on. But other than that, mice are good climbers, given the right surface.
If you live on an upper story, there is a very good chance that the mice can climb through the window, the wall, even the water pipeline, and get to your house. This is certainly not good news but it is something that is in your control and you can prevent mice from getting into your home if you take adequate measures.
How Mice Can Get into Your Home
There are several different ways in which mice can get into your home. It can be an open window, a tree outside your verandah, a water pipeline that is easy to access, or simply a door you left open – some of these less well-known methods of entry are the first to be checked by professional exterminators. The following are some of the common ways in which mice can get into your home.
If a mouse can climb the walls of your home, reaching the roof is no big deal.
There are several access points that mice may find on the roof, especially vents.
You can put a mesh screen on the mesh or a net to prevent mice from coming in or to prevent debris from falling but mice are small enough to manage to wade through even these screens.
Remember, they also have extremely sharp teeth and are expert nibblers so unless the net or the mesh is extremely resilient in quality, there is a good chance that the mice can chew through and make their way into your attic.
Roof vents are one of the most common entry points for mice to gain access to your home. But there are a few different ways in which you can handle this which will be discussed in more detail in a few sections ahead.
Door and Window Frames
Doors and window frames are also very common entry points for mice to use.
If the door and window frames are not sealed properly, the space it leaves is enough for a small mouse to get in. Mice can squeeze themselves into the tiniest of crevices so a gap in your window or door frame is large enough to let a mouse in.
Often, if the door is hanging unevenly or if there is too much of a gap underneath the door, a mouse can surely enter, no matter which story of a building you live on.
You can prevent door and window frames from becoming entry points for mice and other rodents by simply ensuring that they are sealed properly. If you are using a sponge, cloth, or rubber strippings as temporary measures to seal this gap, it will not last long. You need to get a permanent fix as soon as possible as mice can chew through all of these things in a matter of minutes. Keeping these gaps sealed is extremely important.
Gaps between Building Material
Gaps between building materials are also a very common access point for mice.
There are often gaps that exist between bricks or soffits.
This gap, no matter how small, is large enough for a small mouse to crawl through. Once they are in your home they may binge on all the leftovers and other sources of food they may find in your home and become bigger. This is also where they can sometimes get trapped and die in crawl spaces, often the cause of unwanted smells as the dead mouse decomposes out of sight.
To prevent this from happening, you need to take care of sealing all these gaps while the house is being constructed or at least when you are carrying out a renovation. If you live in a rented apartment or home and these issues in the construction of the building are not in your control, you can find makeshift ways of ceiling this gap, either with cement or nail a plank of wood against the gap to block a potential entry point.
Utility lines, water pipelines or HVAC lines running across the walls of the exterior of your home are very easy to access points for mice.
Often there are holes cut out for an exhaust vent or for a water pipeline. These holes are also large enough for mice to climb into and make their way into your home.
Pipes and vents are actually the easiest way that mice can travel from one part of your home to another so check your vents and ensure the openings in your pipes are adequately covered to prevent mice from getting in. The pipes also make it easy for mice to climb up a building and into an open window or a balcony.
Since you cannot do without pipe fittings in a modern home, it is important that you keep the area outside your home inhospitable for mice and other rodents. There are several different ways of doing this but more on that later!
How Do You Identify a Mouse?
Not every rodent is a mouse. If you have lived anywhere near some foliage or even in a city, you probably know what a mouse looks like. But some rodents may be more harmful than others and mice are certainly a big category of rodents that need to be kept out of your home at all costs.
Mice are generally very small and slender and can fit into the smallest of crevices and holes. They often weigh less than even an ounce, which makes it extremely easy to climb things as there is no weight pulling them down. They will typically be in a light brown or light grey color and are easy to spot if they are not scurrying away.
Mice are nocturnal and they will come out to forage for food in the night. There is little chance you will be able to see a mouse being active during the day unless you have an infestation at hand.
They are good at concealing themselves and will not make themselves visible easily. Mice can also swim for about half a mile and easily climb 13-inches up on a smooth, vertical surface. It can also jump as high as a foot so there are several things that may work against your favor if you have already let a mouse enter your home. Once it is in, it can sometimes be tricky to get rid of them. They can also move at 12 feet per second so you need to be extremely agile and clever when dealing with a house mouse.
Signs You Have a Mouse in Your Home
There are a few different signs that you may want to notice or keep track of to see if there are mice in your home. Again, as has been mentioned above, mice are unlikely to be seen during the day unless you are dealing with an active infestation. The following is a brief list of the signs that a mouse has paid a visit to your home:
- Holes in the insulation, in stored food containers, papers, etc.
- Nesting material collected in corners
- Food scraps or empty wrappers on the floor or in dark corners
- Mice droppings, typically 1/4-1/8-inches, dark and with pointed ends
- Fine hairs
- Signs of them running — for example, a clear trail in the dust, grease marks or urine trails (can be seen under black light)
- The sound of feet skittering on laminate floors or inside the drywall
- The smell or odor of a large infestation or of dead mice
Mice typically do not like to move through open spaces and will try as hard as possible to confine themselves in crawl spaces, dark corners, vents, etc.
They are also attracted to human food of any kind — they are not picky eaters. So any food you leave out on the kitchen counter or table is easy to access to food. Mice will also find their way into your kitchen storage if it is not secured properly. They are also so small that they can fit into a crack that is 1/4th of an inch! So there are several things you need to take care of in order to keep your home hygienic and devoid of pests.
Why Are Mice a Problem?
Some people may find mice harmless. They are small, typically sweet looking and can even be kept as pets. But your pet mouse is not the same as an everyday garden mouse.
A pet mouse has been kept in the confines of your home. You control its diet, you control where it goes and where it does not go, so the aspect of hygiene is still something that you can manage on your own.
But having mice in your home (that are not your pets) can be a big problem of hygiene and can make you very sick in different ways.
Mice and rats can spread a variety of different diseases to humans through handling. Mice excreta, urine, saliva, etc, all could potentially carry diseases that are extremely detrimental to human health.
Especially if you have children at home, you need to be careful about keeping mice and pests out as their immunity is likely to be weaker than a fully grown adult.
There is also a chance that you may come face to face with a rodent or it may venture out at night and nibble on your toe while you are sleeping!
Rodent bites can be extremely dangerous and need to be treated immediately. You do not know where the mouse or the rodent has been and what kind of infections and diseases it may have picked up.
Rodents, especially rats, are notorious for hanging around garbage and waste in the hope of finding something to eat. There is a very good chance it would have picked up several unsanitary diseases from these places. You can also contract diseases from rodents indirectly, through flies, mites, ticks, etc, that may have interacted with or fed on an infected rodent.
Some of the common diseases that you can contract from mice include:
- Rat-bite fever
- Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (aseptic meningitis, encephalitis, or meningoencephalitis)
- tapeworms and ringworm-causing organisms
Apart from the potential diseases mice may spread in your home and among your family, they will also create a lot of mess which may become difficult to clean up after if it is not controlled in time.
There are a variety of things that mice do which will simply mess up your home and can cause damage even structurally.
To begin with, they do not have bladder control.
It is not like a mouse will determine when they want to urinate and then go find a corner to relieve themselves in. So they will leave a trail of urine even as they are scampering away which can ruin your floorboards and leave stains behind. They also leave behind about 50-75 droppings a day, which, as mentioned earlier, is a good indicator of whether you have a rodent living in your home.
If, in case, you have a family of mice living in your home you are in for trouble. It will take the mice no time to reproduce more and they can produce about 35 offspring in a year!
So think of the number of rodents that could potentially be crawling in your home if the problem is not tackled in time! They can also cause structural damage to a building by gnawing or chewing on important fittings and by building nests that may damage the strategic corners of your home’s structure. Other than that, they are bound to mess up your kitchen, feed on your food, and contaminate everything that you put in your mouth with their hair, urine, and droppings.
Getting Rid of Mice
The last section may certainly have been a bit graphic and overwhelming to digest. But hold back the bile and take a deep breath. Even if you are dealing with an infestation, you always have the resources to deal with it.
There are several things you can do to get rid of mice and then keep them away. The following are some of the common practices you should try to start at home:
Mouse Traps and Baits
The minute you see a mouse in your home or suspect there may be a mouse scampering around in your house, start laying out baits and mouse traps immediately.
You need to be smart and quick about how you do this. Keep the traps in dark corners and crawl spaces where mice are likely to hide. Look for signs of nests and trails they might have left to keep the traps in the appropriate places. You may want to leave some trial baits out initially to give the mice more confidence to go into the trap for the food without any consequences. Once the mice are not suspicious of the trap, you can set the final trap.
Apart from that, ensure the safety of your children and other family members so they do not accidentally step on the traps. Keep them away from places where your children or pets might venture but keep them in places where the mice might be seeking refuge.
Board up Any Openings
Comb your home for any openings or access points.
If there is a gap in building materials or your door and window frames are not properly sealed, ensure you close those access points. Get your doors and windows fitted properly, cover pipe openings with a mesh filter so mice can’t get in. Do the same with roof vents. It has been mentioned earlier that mice may not find it terribly hard to nibble through the mesh or wire filter.
So it is your responsibility to install something that is resilient and cannot be waded through easily.
You can also use cement, plaster of Paris, or wood to board up any gaps or openings that may be access points for mice. It is really important to keep the house sealed and block off all access points. This is going to be a laborious process so you may even need to enlist professional support to get this done.
Besides, if you have an infestation at hand, it is best to call a professional pest control company.
Rodent-Proof Your Surroundings
Closing off the access points in your home is not enough.
You need to ensure that the surroundings of your house are also rodent-proof so there is no threat of mice climbing the exterior of your house or the pipelines that run along the wall outside.
Keep your yard clean and remove any vessels that may become refuge spots for mice.
If there are bird feeders in your yard, check it frequently to see they have not become abodes for mice and other small rodents. If you have grass in your yard or in the area around your house, ensure the grass has been trimmed. If the grass is long and unkempt, it is perfect for mice to travel through without being detected.
Remember, mice do not like to travel through open spaces where they may be seen. So if you can put hurdles for the mice in your yard that may make it easy for you to rodent-proof the area around your home.
A natural method of keeping rats out of your home and especially out of your bed is peppermint oil. Peppermint oil is a natural repellent and can do a great deal to keep mice away. But again, if you have an infestation at hand then you may require something stronger.
A lot of people also advocate for using poison to exterminate the rodent population entirely. The mousetrap is only an additional measure but the real antidote for a rodent infestation is to use poison. This may not be everybody’s cup of tea. You may want to practice more humane methods of getting rid of mice so simply a mousetrap, when placed correctly, should do the trick.
Get a Cat!
This is not a solution that may work for everyone but if you can afford to get a cat and take care of it, it is the only solution you require to keep small mice out.
Of course, not every cat is predisposed to catch mice.
Some just like to laze around and spend some leisure time, without putting in the work to catch their prey. Sometimes domesticated cats can also let you down but it is still a fairly reliable way to keep the mice out. Even if the cat does not actively go after mice at least they will be scared coming into your home knowing there’s a feline lurking around. So it is a good bet that you can place your trust on.
The above was a brief guide to how mice behave and what you should do if you spot a mouse in your house.
There are a few natural remedies you can use or you can go the poisoning the rodent and killing it way, though this is not something that people who believe in more humane ways would endorse.
After reading this article, you may have learned that mice can certainly climb and climb quite well, provided the surface provides their claws some friction to make a grip with.
When the surface is not completely smooth, mice can climb it quite successfully and quite rapidly. Even if it is a completely smooth surface, they may be able to climb it at least up to 13 inches high. Mice are also able to jump at least a foot high so that is certainly bad news for people who live on the bottom floor and have low windows.
Naturally, you cannot completely change the structure of your house so if you do have a design that would make it easier for mice and other rodents to gain access into your house, there are other things you will need to do in order to ensure that does not happen.
The facts you learned about mice above will be able to help you make your home more secure and also help you decide if you can take care of the rodent problem on your own or if you require professional support.
If the mouse has been scampering about in your home for more than a month and you have not been able to catch it, you need to call on professionals to take care of the job for you, before it is too late and the mouse has started a prosperous family.