Most Common Mice

Some of the most common rodent pests found in North America include white-footed, and deer mice. In addition to evoking emotions of fear in many people, mice regularly chew and destroy various household items and can carry life-threatening diseases easily contracted by humans.

What Do They Look Like?

Size: Weighing roughly 1/2 an ounce, adult house and deer mice are about 3 to 4 inches (7 1/2-10 cm) long, with a tail that extends the length of the body. White-footed mice are 4 to 8 inches (10-20 cm) long, weigh about an ounce, and have a tail that ranges from 2 1/2 to 4 inches (6-10cm) in length.

Color: The house mouse ranges in color from brown to black. White-footed and deer mice are often confused with each other due to similar coloring. Both types display white underbellies and darker tones on top. White-footed mice tend to have a dark brown stripe stretching from head to tail and reddish, light brown colors. Deer mice, on the other hand, are darker brown in color with white tails.

Characteristics: Mice exhibit small, beady eyes, whiskers, and four legs with small protruding toes. In contrast to their hairy-tailed counterparts, house mice possess scaly, semi-naked tails. White-footed mice have larger ears with tufts of hair and typically display white feet. Deer mice also have white feet and are aptly named for their close resemblance in coloring to white-tailed deer.

More identification help

What Do They Eat?

Mice are opportunistic foragers. While seeds and grains represent preferred food sources, mice regularly supplement their diet with insects and other invertebrates, fruits, fungi, flowers, and nuts. Easily reachable foods in houses, like cereals and chips, also attract mice. The rodents readily chew holes through various materials to gain access to food sources.

Mice in Homes

Many types of mice, such as the house mouse, are frequent visitors to urban areas. The pests often enter homes to nest and breed. Since they do not travel great distances to find a meal, where mice live in houses depends on their food source.

Where Do Mice Live in a House?

In general, mice live in wall voids, attics, basements, or under floors and cabinets when they infest a home. Being near kitchens and living areas gives rodents access to pantry goods or crumbs from meals.

While they prefer to stay close to food, the pests do not usually build nests out in the open. Dark and secluded places, such as inside walls, attic insulation, clutter, and stored furniture, are common locations. Following trails of tiny, rice-shaped droppings may indicate where mice live in the house.

Life Cycle & Reproduction

Mice thrive in male dominated colonies which can include many females and other subordinate males. Offspring typically mature within 35 days of birth, which makes them very prolific breeders. House mouse infestations can be particularly troublesome, as females may produce 35 to 40 offspring in a year. Generally, the offspring will inhabit the same house and continue to produce their own litters over the course of their lifetimes. The average lifespan of a mouse is generally around 18 months; however, the rodents may live as long as five years in captivity or other places unaffected by the perils found in the wild.


  • House mice often build nests in attics, walls, basements and other areas away from people.
  • Look for mouse nests in walls, chimneys, and basements.
  • White-footed and deer mice usually nest outdoors in vacated bird nests, tree stumps, and other hollow spaces.
  • Mice are commonly active at night, when human activity is at its lowest level.

Problems Caused By Mice

As active scavengers, mice sometimes enter homes to look for food. In addition to consuming crumbs and other dropped food items, the rodents can chew through containers and ruin the food stored within. Additionally, mice may gnaw on wires, which creates not only financial problems, but potentially dangerous electrical issues.

Mice sometimes serve as transmitters of disease. For instance, the Hantavirus, contracted by inhaling dust contaminated by urine or droppings, is found in the white-footed mouse species. Other afflictions, like Lyme disease, can be contracted through bites from ticks that have used mice carrying the disease as a secondary host. The possibility of disease is a real threat and should be taken seriously, especially if children are present. Mice continuously urinate and defecate in areas where children play and consume food, and infestations should be taken care of immediately.

Learn how to get rid of a mouse infestation.

Signs of Mice

Chewed wires and small fecal droppings signify mouse infestations. Gnaw marks on food or other materials, like cardboard, also indicate the presence of the invasive rodents. Mice may be seen nimbly scampering around wall edges and behind other objects.

While house mice usually seek refuge within homes year-round, expect to see an increase in their frequency when cold weather approaches.

Nests are made with shredded paper or other soft materials with similar insulating qualities.

Prevention Tips

Before removal efforts can take place, all openings as small as a quarter-inch leading into houses or buildings must be sealed. Newly purchased or rented buildings benefit from this preventative measure, even if no infestation is present. As mice can go without water for a considerable amount of time, focus on eliminating possible food sources by cleaning spills and crumbs. Maintaining a clean and sanitary household by vacuuming and regularly cleaning dishes also helps to deter mice. In addition, keep cereals and grains locked away in glass, plastic, or metal containers and out of reach of the various acrobatic feats mice are capable of performing.

Tips for Removal from Home

Classic snap-traps are a popular DIY method of mouse removal. The traps take advantage of the tendency of mice to attempt to procure food from any available source and prevent the rodents from perishing in hard-to-reach places, where the cadavers would create an unwanted odor. Despite the potential effectiveness of snap-traps and similar solutions, professional pest removal remains the best option to deal with large mouse infestations. With a level of expertise that untrained individuals lack, pest control professionals can quickly help you eliminate your problem.

Mouse control becomes a big priority in fall and winter, but rodent pest control is actually an all-year concern. Much like you, mice and rats move indoors when the temperature drops, but sources of food and shelter bring these pests to your home year round.

Mice Leave Calling Cards

Mice and rats do more than elicit high-pitched screams when scurrying across a room. These pests leave behind evidence in the form of droppings, gnaw marks, and more – all of which can have negative health effects on you and your family.

  • Tracking of bacteria, including salmonella
  • Potentially harmful diseases such as hantavirus
  • Damage to stored goods
  • Go around your home in the fall and make sure there are no holes or gapes in the foundation or screen doors and windows. A mouse is able to creep through a hole the size of a coin, so even the smallest gaps count.
  • Something else you can do when it comes to tick and mice prevention is making the right garden choices. You should consider planting crops, veggies, or flowers that will not attract deer because if deer are being attracted to your yard, mice and ticks may be as well. Deer can actually be tick carriers, and young children can easily pick them up when playing outside.
  • At the end of the season, dig up your garden remains and dispose of them properly.

Mouse Control Solutions

Mice are very tenacious in their ability to enter a dwelling as they only need an opening no larger than the size of a dime and can easily climb interior walls making exclusion very difficult. Thorough examinations need to be made periodically to assure that all points of entry (foundations, utility pipes and wires passing into the house) are secure.

Baby powder or talc can be sprinkled along the inside perimeters of walls and thresholds which can show tracks where mice are active and can be instrumental in helping decide where exclusion efforts are needed.

In those areas that are not secure, wire mesh or quick-drying cement can be used to plug cracks around drainpipes and other small areas of entry. Also, galvanized window screening can be balled and stuffed into larger openings that are then finished with caulking or cement. Expanding-foam insulation can also be used for filling small to medium size openings.

Habitat Modification
Good housekeeping procedures need to be in place in order to keep these pesky critters out of your house. Removal of all food sources is essential, and all foods that are accessible to mice should be stored in metal or plastic containers. To keep mice at bay, you need to keep the perimeter of your house free from weeds and vegetation at least 18 inches away from your foundation.

Early fall or winter is the time of the year when mice move in as part of their normal movement patterns. Mice can be humanely live-trapped and put back in their own environment but would probably not do well, but many people are willing to try.

Live-catching devices are sold to make this transition possible. The Victor® M007, M313, the Tin Cat, and also the HAVAHART® model 1020 cage trap can be used to effectively exclude mice from your premises. When placing these traps, put them along a wall or other barrier as mice travel along walls. These traps should be set before going to bed and checked early in the morning so that removal can be made safely for the mouse.

Suggested baits: Bread and butter, small nuts, cherry pits, oatmeal, sunflower or similar seeds. Mixed peanut butter and oatmeal, gumdrops.

Of course, an exterminator is still another exclusionary method that can bring good results.

Lethal Control
Good management control in many cases can only be attained by the use of killing devices such as the Victor® snap trap. Sticky traps are also another method of control and work very well when there is the presence of children or pets. Again, these devices need to be placed along a wall where the normal traffic pattern of mice occur. Rodenticides are another effective form of lethal control. They are convenient to use and can provide both indoor and outdoor control.

Rodenticides are a convenient and effective method of rodent control. Rodent bait packs can be used for indoor and outdoor control and can be placed along walls, by gnawed openings in or beside burrows, in corners or in locations where rodents and their signs have been seen. Victor offers a variety of rodenticide bait solutions.

Ultrasonic devices can also be used to keep mice out of a designated area. These products produce sounds that are inaudible to humans or non-rodent animals. The Victor® brand Sonic Pest Chaser can be very effective.

More Information About Mice