Mouse Infestation

This page outlines the steps for getting rid of a mouse infestation.  Follow all of the steps to deal with an infestation.  We also recommended traps that can be purchased on Amazon.

Here an outline of the topics covered:

How Do I Know if I Have Mice?

Mice are perhaps the most alarming pest to be spotted in the home. Seeing the rodent is not always the first indicator of an infestation, though. Droppings, footprints, gnaw marks, and sounds may all be observed before a rodent may be sighted. Homeowners want to familiarize themselves with these signs in order to prevent damage to the home and spread of disease.

Droppings

Mouse droppings are usually the first sign of mice in the home. Even small populations are capable of leaving enough droppings for inhabitants to detect. Measuring about a quarter of an inch, mouse waste is rod-shaped and tapers at one or both ends. Mice explore their habitats, and droppings can be found anywhere they visit in the home. The greatest number of droppings will be found around their nesting areas. The rodents prefer cluttered areas, like garages, basements, attics, closets, and voids behind appliances. Homeowners should investigate these areas first if a mouse infestation is suspected.

Tracks

After their travels, mice may leave behind distinct footprints. Typically left in dusty areas, mouse tracks have a front footprint with four toe marks and a back footprint that shows five toes. Footprints often appear jumbled, as mice do not always move in linear patterns.

Gnaw Marks

Mice gnaw for nest building and to maintain their teeth. Due to their continual gnawing, chewing marks are a major indicator of mouse infestation. Mice primarily gnaw along their main travelways, which are usually walls and corners. The pests can also chew nesting holes, which are about one and a half inches in diameter. In addition to leaving marks on the spots they chew, mice can leave bits of wood shavings and insulation along their paths. Rough holes chewed into containers storing food also indicate the presence of mice.

Sounds

Mice are nocturnal in nature, and their activity can mainly be heard at night. When an infested house is quiet, it is possible to hear rustling or quick pattering of feet. Scratching and gnawing at the materials of the structure may also be heard. The rodents may also make squeaking noises that are audible to humans.

Why are Mice in My Home?

The pests are likely to infest houses when scavenging for something to eat, such as grains, seeds, and sugary goods. When rodents discover sources of food, like cupboards and pantries, they often build permanent nests indoors.

Drawn to homes during bouts of cold or wet weather, mice invade buildings most frequently during fall and winter.

What Problems Do They Cause?

One of the main problems caused by mice includes the overgrowth and rampant surges in colony sizes if left unchecked. The rapid maturation of baby mice into full-grown adults allows the mammal to reproduce at alarming rates, which may result in mice overrunning infested areas.

Chewing, biting, and burrowing, which are typical behaviours of both deer mice and house mice, often lead to property damage and food contamination. Mouse feces and urine, in addition to the tracks of detritus the rodents regularly leave behind, serve as the primary means of contaminating surfaces in living areas.

Common diseases spread through rodent droppings, urine, and hair during this process include Hantavirus and salmonellosis. In addition, mouse infestations can carry various kinds of roundworms and tapeworms into the home, further risking residents’ health

How Do I Get Rid of Them?

Once homeowners establish the presence of an infestation, several options exist to eliminate mice from the home.

Step 1: Sanitation

Proper and diligent sanitation inside the home also helps prevent infestations.

Homeowners with mice must eliminate all sources of water, food, and shelter.

Seal pet food in rodent-proof containers, relocate stored water bottles, and keep houses free of clutter and dusty debris.

To stop the pests from feasting on trash, ensure that garbage bins have tight-fitting lids and no holes in their sidewalls or near handles.

Routine yard maintenance deters deer mice, as well. Cut overgrown shrubs and trim tree branches that hang over the roof; otherwise, mice could walk across the overhanging limbs and gain access to the house.

Similarly, keep woodpiles away from the perimeter of the home and regularly clear debris from the lawn to avoid inadvertently giving pest rodents ideal places to hide.

Step 2: Exclusion

Keeping mice out of the house can be a difficult task.  Make mouse infestations less likely by locating any openings around the home that are larger than 1/4 inches and sealing the rodent-friendly entry points.

This includes:

  • foundation cracks
  • holes in screens
  • any areas around pipes and wires coming into the home

Plugging the openings with steel wool can be an easy temporary solution, as deer mice can gnaw through screens, rubber, insulating foam, and similar types of barriers.

Step 3: Trapping Them

Glue Traps

Another type of widely utilized trap uses glue boards to catch and hold mice in the same way that flypaper catches flies. Glue traps do not necessarily kill mice right away, as the mouse instead gets caught in the trap, typically struggling against the glue.

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Catchmaster Glue Trap

  • Contains 10 scented, non toxic trays
  • Place multiple trays in areas of activity

Glue traps are ineffective outdoors when moisture, dust, and pollen interfere with the adhesive. Further disposal may become necessary in order to completely resolve the issue.

Glue traps also pose potential threats to children or pets if left unattended in a home and lose effect as the glue remains consistently exposed to heat or dry areas. Additionally, certain species of mice are known carriers of hantavirus, which causes a sometimes-fatal respiratory disease called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. Trapping infected mice in glue traps and failing to dispose of the rodents properly may lead to the spread of the virus.

Snap Traps

A common way to snare mice entails the use of a snap trap.  The most common designs feature spring-loaded metal bars that snap closed when the lure is moved.

A mouse becomes attracted to a food-based bait, tries to eat, and causes the trap to spring and trap the rodent.   Peanut butter, cheese, and oatmeal are often used to bait traps, but nesting material such as cotton can also be used.

A snap trap typically kills the mouse by breaking the animal’s neck or spinal cord. There are several variations of the snap trap, as both plastic and wood may be utilized in the construction.

Victor Snap Traps

  • Classic metal traps
  • Scented (pre baited)
  • Reusuable

Large Snap Traps
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Large Snap Traps

  • Plastic traps
  • Can be set with your foot or hand
  • Reusuable
  • 8 pack

Baits

Homeowners may also choose to use rodenticides, or toxicants, to remove mice from dwellings. Available in several varieties at many home improvement and big box stores, most rodenticides come in either grain or block style.

Placement of the baits becomes crucial for effectiveness and safety purposes. In order to work successfully, baits must be placed where mouse activity appears most frequently, such as in purported nesting areas, along baseboards, and in garage and storage areas.

Mice either actively eat the rodenticide or take it back as foodstuffs for the nest.

Victor M925 Rodent Poison

  • Weather resistant
  • Place along walls or other areas of activity
  • Place the bait balls 8-12 ft part

Problems that may arise include pets or children getting into rodenticide baits, constant replacement if the infestation becomes larger than anticipated, and in extreme cases secondary poisoning when predators eat the poisoned rodents.

Electronic Traps

Although more expensive, electronic traps are preferred by some homeowners. House mice are caught and hidden inside the device, making this a safer choice around kids and pets

Electronic traps consist of battery-operated traps that kill rodents by electrocution. The trap may find use in commercial settings when business owners wish to eliminate larger numbers of mice without having to purchase single-use snares. Electronic traps, which are reusable, send high voltage shocks to rodents who enter.

OWLTRA Indoor Electric Rodent Killer

  • Can kill 60 mice
  • No need to touch dead mice
  • Kills quickly

Catch and Release Traps

Another type of trap is the catch-and-release variety. Catch-and-release traps humanely catch mice in receptacles in order to release them back into the wild.

HAVAHART Trap

  • Humane
  • No direct contact with rats
  • Easy to use and carry

Though humane, catch-and-release traps allow mice populations to continue to grow and re-infest homes if the animals are released too close to home.

Mouse Repellents

These deterrents can help control small groups of mice. Since chemicals are only effective and safe when used correctly, many people like to try natural mouse repellents.

Some of the most common include:

  • Mothballs: Mice dislike the smell of mothballs. However, they are toxic to children and pets, so placing them around the house can be hazardous.
  • Dryer Sheets: These have a similar effect to mothballs but have the advantage of fitting into small cracks where mice are likely to enter homes.
  • Peppermint Oil: Some people believe cotton balls soaked in this essential oil make homes smell repulsive to the pests.

Common Invaders

House Mouse

house mouse outside
house mouse

Habitat

The rodent prefers to live in close proximity to food. During the summer months, house mice are often found in fields eating crops. The pest moves indoor during colder seasons, when possible. House mice enter buildings easily due to their ability to squeeze through cracks slightly bigger than 1/4 of an inch. The creature nests in small spaces of houses or barns that experience less foot traffic from humans. Specifically, house mice often find shelter inside walls, under furniture, or in boxes, shoes, clothing, and other items left untouched in storage spaces for long periods of time. Nests constructed from cloth, paper, or other soft materials typically contain spaces for nursing, living, and food storage as well as several avenues for entering and exiting. In outdoor settings, house mice may burrow into the ground to create nests. The nocturnal house mouse tends to forage within 30 feet of the nest in order to transport and store food for future use.

Diet

House mice consume anything humans eat but tend to stick with grains and seeds when available. The rodent finds plants, select insects, and even meat attractive food sources when outdoors. Fatty and sugary foods like butter, chocolate treats, and other soft candies prove optimal selections when house mice obtain access to human foodstuffs. More obscure food items may include glue or rubber. House mice can survive without the presence of fresh drinking water, as the rodent gets most of its hydration from the food it consumes.

Reproduction

Male house mice may mate with several females multiple times throughout the year, barring optimal indoor shelter and extensive food sources. House mice typically mate during the spring or fall when living outdoors. A single female house mouse may produce up to 10 litters annually. A typical litter comprises five to six mice; however, some females give birth to as many as 12 mice at a time. A resilient creature, the female house mice may become pregnant again just two days after giving birth to its young. Pregnancy lasts approximately three weeks, and after giving birth, the mother nurses the young for three more weeks. Most mice reach adulthood/sexual maturity within 50 days and leave the care of their mother. The entire life cycle of a house mouse typically lasts no longer than nine to 12 months.

Deer Mouse

deer mouse
deer mouse

Habitat

A wide-ranging rodent, the deer mouse survives and thrives in many different ecological regions and typically lives in both grassland and forested areas in New England. Deer mice remain indiscriminate in the nature of forest homes, as both deciduous and coniferous forests serve as ideal nesting areas for the species. The small rodent constructs nests both underground in new or existing burrows and near the ground in stumps, brush piles, and tree cavities. The species primarily forages at night, spending most of the time on the ground but also demonstrating proficiency in climbing. Deer mice do not hibernate over the winter and continue to scavenge for food throughout colder months.

Diet

Omnivorous in nature, the deer mouse eats a wide variety of both animal and plant matter, based on availability. Focusing on seeds, fruits, nuts, and other plant products, the mammal also helps control insect populations by eating small insects, arthropods, invertebrates, and spiders. The rodent hoards food underground or in tree cavities.

Reproduction

Deer mice breed throughout the year, though prime propagation time normally occurs during the warmer months. The species reaches sexual maturity within 35 to 60 days of birth, and females may produce between two and four litters each season. Gestation periods typically last 24 days on average, with litters ranging in size up to as many as 11 newborn mice. The young are born hairless and with closed eyes, which open after about 14 days. Newborn deer mice are typically weaned by the third week and leave the nest to establish home boundaries of their own. The lifespan of an adult deer mouse usually does not last beyond two years.

Difference Between a House Mouse and Deer Mouse.

Dealing with Mouse Droppings

Please read carefully cleaning as mouse droppings are a major hazard to your health.

Cleaning up mouse droppings involves safe, proper methods.

Read tips for how to clean and remove feces below:

  1. First, put on a face mask.
  2. Second, protect your hands with heavy duty gloves made from rubber, plastic, or other chemical resistant materials…this is crucial.
  3. All waste must be doused with a mixture of bleach and water, or some kind of major disinfectant. You cant over do the amount of disinfectant that you use.  Let the droppings soak for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Wipe up the feces with paper towels, rags, old t shirts, etc. and throw them in a garbage bag.
  5. Wash the area again with a disinfectant.
  6. While the gloves are still on, wash your gloved hands with the disinfectant or bleach solution before taking them off.  Or spray them with a similar solution.
  7. Throw the gloves in the garbage bag, and then double bag the same garbage bag.
  8. Scrub your hands with soap and water.

You cant be too safe when it comes to dealing with mouse droppings.

IMPORTANT: Do not stir up dust while cleaning by vacuuming or sweeping, as the particles can go airborne and spread dangerously.