Mouse Control: Protect Your Home
Scientific Classification: Various species
The most common rodent pests found in the Mid-Atlantic region are house, 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
Second only to humans as the largest mammalian population within cities, house mice are native to Central and Southeastern Asia and arrived in North America by way of European settlers. As the most common home invader among rodents, the house mouse populates a large portion of the world. Indigenous to North America, white-footed and deer mice are found throughout most of the continent.
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 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.
Signs of Infestation
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.
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.