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How Do Mice Get in My Attic? Rodent Proofing 101

A mouse scurrying around in an attic

If you’ve noticed signs of mice in your attic—such as droppings, piles of shredded paper or insulation, scratching or squeaking noises coming from within the walls or actual mouse sightings—you’re probably wondering how the mice got there.

Mice, rats and other rodent pests normally get into attics, garages and homes through gaps in exterior walls that lead to interior spaces. Even a seemingly tiny gap around a dryer or bathroom vent, for example, can be a good entry point for a mouse, since mice can squeeze through holes as small as the size of a dime. Yes, you read that right! These creatures are incredibly well-adapted to contort their bodies to fit through extremely small holes.

The reason why mice infiltrate people’s homes is the same as that of any animal trying to get inside: They are seeking warm, dry shelter; food and water and a good place to build a nest for breeding. Mice are more likely to try to get into your attic, garage or home when it’s either very hot or cold outside, or during seasons when outdoor food sources are scarce due to drought or freeze.

Mice may be small, but these wild animals can cause big problems when they infest any area of your property. Like other rodents, mice have constantly growing front teeth that must be filed down through frequent gnawing. Mice have been known to gnaw through drywall, wood framing, PVC piping and even electrical wiring in people’s homes—sometimes to get inside—causing extensive structural damage and even danger from exposed wires.

These rodents’ urine and feces can also damage homes as it soaks through ceilings or drywall. Furthermore, mice (as well as their urine and feces) carry infectious diseases that can be harmful to people as well as dogs, cats and other household pets. For all of these reasons and more, it’s important to keep mice away from your home, attic and garage.

Preventing mice from getting inside your home or garage is a very important part of keeping them from infesting your attic or making their way into your living space. The best ways to do this include making your home less appealing to mice as well as cutting off any potential entry points they may use to get inside. Here are some steps any homeowner can take to reduce the chances of a mouse infestation in their home or garage:

  • Repair any small holes or gaps in the eaves, around vents, or around door or window frames on your home and garage. Alternatively, stuff openings with steel wool or cover them with wire mesh to keep mice and other small pests from using them to access your home.
  • Inside, fix any leaking pipes or faucets so mice won’t have a readily available water source.
  • Cut off pests’ access to food by keeping your kitchen clean, including crumbs swept up, counters wiped down and food in the pantry stored in airtight containers.
  • Store pet food in airtight containers as well, and empty out pet bowls after your dogs or cats have eaten, so leftover food doesn’t sit out and tempt mice.

Incidentally, the above measures will help prevent all types of pests from infesting your home or garage—not just mice.

If you are already dealing with a mouse infestation someplace inside your home, attic or garage, the mice will need to be removed before you close off any entry points. If you were to seal these access points when there were still mice nesting or breeding within, they would become trapped inside. This would not only prevent them from leaving but could also potentially put you at risk of having dead mice in a hard to reach area, which can result in strong odors and other issues.

Many people who try to address a mouse infestation on their own often find this to be an extremely frustrating and ultimately fruitless endeavor. It’s difficult to eradicate mice once they have built a nest and started reproducing, partly because they are such prolific breeders. Mice typically breed year-round, and females can have between five and ten litters per year, with six to eight babies per litter. This means their populations grow exponentially if they aren’t dealt with quickly and thoroughly.

Many people who try to get rid of mice on their own use a combination of preventative measures plus mouse traps and poison. The trouble with these methods is that mouse traps can be difficult to set and monitor in the hard to access spots where rodents tend to nest, and rat or mouse poison can be dangerous for other species besides just the rodent pests—including household pets or even children that might accidentally come into contact with these substances. Furthermore, even if you know what to put in a mouse trap, it takes extensive knowledge of pest behavior to set these traps up strategically.

The best way to remove mice that have infested your attic, garage or home is to reach out to a wildlife control specialist for help. These pest control professionals have access to specialized products and techniques, plus the know-how and experience necessary to remove pests from the premises before sealing off potential entry points. That way, pests can’t use those spots to infiltrate your home in the future.

Before deciding to enlist the help of a wildlife control specialists, some homeowners wonder if there are any other effective methods of rodent control that they can use on their own. Keep reading to learn the effectiveness of other available rodent control measures.

a whit kitchen that has ultrasonic pest repellers plugged in

Do Ultrasonic Pest Repellers Work on Mice?

Ultrasonic pest repeller products have been gaining popularity as people search for easier, more effective ways to keep their homes pest-free. These devices plug into electrical outlets and supposedly emit sounds that humans can’t hear, but pests can—and pests supposedly hate them. Infomercials and online ads will tell you these products work on everything from cockroaches to ants, spiders and more, but do ultrasonic pest repellers actually work on mice?

Unfortunately, the data on whether ultrasonic pest repellers work on mice is limited and variable at best, and mostly anecdotal. Some people report success with using these products to keep pests away, but others invest in these devices—which can be quite expensive—only to find that they make no difference in controlling pest populations inside the home or garage.

Among people who do find that these devices help keep pests away, it seems that they only help for a limited time, and then their effectiveness starts to wane. Furthermore, location matters—meaning, where you plug them in. These products emit soundwaves at a certain frequency, but the waves don’t travel far, so multiple devices must be placed all around the home if they are to have any chance of working.

In short, ultrasonic pest repellers might help in keeping mice away if they are used in conjunction with other pest-control methods, but they will need to be replaced every so often, and aren’t likely to be effective if used on their own. The best approach to pest control, whether you’re dealing with mice or any other type of animal or insect pest, is to make your home less attractive to pests by eliminating food and water sources, and to cut off entry points so pests can’t physically get inside.

If you are using these methods and still dealing with any type of pest infestation, it’s time to reach out to a pest control specialist who has access to the best products and technologies to deal with your pest problem once and for all. Without this type of targeted professional help, the problem is likely to get worse as you struggle to manage it on your own.

Some pet owners wonder if having a cat could be a possible method of rodent control. Cats hunt mice after all, right?

a cat hunting down a mouse

Do Cats Keep Mice Away?

Countless stories, movies and TV shows portray cats as nature’s best pest control, and anyone who’s ever had a cat as a pet has likely experienced the dubious joy of their furry friend proudly displaying a dead lizard, bird or rodent that was hunted down and killed—presumably for your benefit. But do cats keep mice away? Or is this mostly a myth based on felines’ predator instincts?

The short answer is that, while cats do occasionally hunt down mice and other small animals, they can’t be relied on for regular, effective pest control because they simply don’t catch and kill enough pests to make a difference. Breeding mice can produce enough babies to have their population increase tenfold in just a few months. This means even seeing one mouse could mean there are many, many more. Even the most avidly predatory house cats simply can’t keep up with those numbers!

There is good news about using cats as pest control, however. Scientific studies have shown that mice fear the scent of cats—an evolutionary development based on these two species’ long relationship as predator and prey. This means that having cats around may repel mice to a limited extent. And since cats can successfully hunt down mice from time to time, they can provide at least a bit of assistance in keeping mouse populations down around your home and yard.

Still, the best way to keep pests away, including mice and rats, is by cutting off their access to your home as well as to any food and water sources inside, and by contacting a pest control specialist if you suspect that mice are nesting or breeding anywhere in your home or elsewhere on your property, so the problem can be addressed quickly and completely.

ABC Can Effectively Control Your Rodent Problem

Mouse problems shouldn’t be taken lightly. These pests are capable of damaging belongings, contaminating food, spreading diseases and causing house fires by chewing through electrical wiring. If you’re struggling with a rodent problem, the specialists at ABC Home & Commercial Services are here for you. Our specialists will be able to answer any questions you might have, such as whether you have deer mice or house mice, and can create a customized pest control treatment plan for you. With our rodent control services, you can feel comfortable at home again.

Holt Myers

Holt joined ABC in 2021 as the Electrical & Appliance Operations Manager before transitioning to Division Manager for Pest Control. Before ABC, Holt worked as a Project Manager and Superintendent in Construction. Holt also served in the US Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007. Holt is a member of NPMA’s PestVets, Stewards of the Wild and Texas Wildlife Association. Holt is an avid outdoorsman, who loves to travel and spend time with his wife and daughter.

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