ABC Blog

House Mouse: Identification & Control Tips

a mouse in a house

A house mouse may look cute and fluffy, but an infestation in your home is not something to take lightly. House mice carry dangerous diseases that can harm humans and pets. They can also cause severe property damage both indoors and outdoors.

It’s important to know how to identify a house mouse from other mice species so that you can deal with the problem correctly. This guide will break down their appearance and how they differ from other types of mice species.

Additionally, let’s discuss how to control a house mouse problem and prevent the annoyance from returning. Since house mice can cause outdoor property damage and destroy your gardens, this guide will also go over how to keep them out of your beds.

Finally, you’ll learn about an interesting method that mice use when they feel threatened: playing dead.

As a homeowner, learning about the behavioral patterns, appearance, and dangers of the house mouse will equip you to deal with a troublesome infestation. You should always consult with a rodent and pest control specialist to deal with your particular house mouse colony.

How to Identify a House Mouse

If you have a house mouse problem, you aren’t alone. House mice are the most commonly encountered rodents in homes. You can identify them by their small and slender gray-brown bodies. Some house mice are only one color, while others have a sand-colored underbelly.

Another way to distinguish a house mouse from other types of mice is by their facial features. These mice have pointy noses, large black eyes that jut out from their face and big ears that do not have much hair.

House mice bodies measure between three and four inches, and their tails are between two and four inches. Their tails are almost hairless and have scale rings that are easy to spot.

Distinguishing House Mice From Other Mice

The easiest way to distinguish a house mouse from other mice species, such as harvest, deer, white-footed and jumping mice is by their fur color. Unlike house mice, other mice species have bright white bellies.

You can also identify a house mouse by its high-pitched squeak. However, if you do not see or hear house mice in your home, that does not mean that you don’t have an infestation. Other signs of their presence include droppings, gnawing marks, urine, odors and nests.

You will find house mouse droppings near their nests and feeding areas, as well as their path in between those two destinations. The droppings are a quarter of an inch and have squared-off edges.

You may notice gnawing marks on your doors and walls, along with other surfaces near the house mouse nest. If you notice loose wood shavings and pieces of insulation, it is likely from the mice gnawing them away.

House mice leave small droplets of urine around the runway between their nest and their food. They are hard to see, but a fluorescent light will illuminate them. A musky odor may also indicate a house mouse colony.

If you suspect a house mouse infestation in your home, you should look for their nest in your garage, attic, closets and basement. They use natural and synthetic fibrous materials to build their nests.

Finally, you may suspect house mice if you hear them scurrying through your walls. Homeowners often hear them running above the ceiling and gnawing on their surfaces.

How to Control a House Mouse Problem

A house mouse is not only an annoying visitor; it can also pose dangerous health threats to your household. Mice can spread salmonellosis, rat-bite fever, hantavirus and other bacteria. Their fecal matter is dangerous when breathed in, and their presence can cause severe allergic reactions. They can also pollute your food and cause anxiety for your pets.

Additionally, a house mouse colony can cause property damage requiring expensive repairs. There are several methods to prevent and control a house mouse problem. You should always consult with a pest control specialist rather than try to control the problem on your own.

A house mouse problem is not a sign of poor sanitation in your home; however, good sanitation can help make your home less accommodating for them. Learning what house mice eat can also help you control an infestation. Store all food in airtight containers and do not leave out pet food when your pet is not eating. You should also keep your kitchen surfaces clean and avoid leaving food sitting out, such as on dirty dishes.

Mouse traps are the most effective way to eliminate a house mouse colony. There are several types of traps, from traditional snap traps to electric shock traps. A pest and rodent control specialist can advise you on the best traps for your home.

Once the house mouse population is under control, make sure you know how mice get in the house so you can ensure they cannot reenter your home. Inspect your house for openings and patch any holes that are a quarter of an inch and larger.

a mouse in a backyard

Does Mulch Attract Mice?

Despite their name, house mice do not only make their homes indoors. You can also have a house mouse problem on other parts of your property, and they can do severe damage to your gardens, flower beds and landscaping.

Gardens are especially appealing for house mice because they are full of food sources and materials they can use to build their nests. If you grow vegetables on your property, nothing is more discouraging than discovering that a house mouse has claimed the fruits of your labor.

A common misconception about house mice is that they are attracted to mulch, which makes homeowners feel hesitant about fertilizing their gardens and flower beds. The mulch itself does not attract mice; however, it is an ideal material for nesting. A house mouse could easily hide in a thick layer of mulch and go unnoticed.

You can still fertilize your property without causing a house mouse infestation. When you mulch your beds, only use a thin layer of mulch so that mice cannot use it as shelter. Termites can also hide out in mulch, so you should only use it a small amount of it on an as-needed basis.

You should also remove other excess materials that a house mouse could use to build a nest. Keeping your flower and garden beds neat is the best way to prevent house mice from making their home in them.

If you spot rodents in your garden and flower beds, call in a pest control specialist to eradicate the problem. You should not use mice poison outdoors since it can harm other animals and children.

a mouse and cat in a garden

Do Mice Play Dead?

One reason why getting rid of a house mouse problem can be a challenge is that mice play dead when they feel threatened. However, it is rare to catch a house mouse playing dead inside your home.

Mice play dead as a last resort when they do not think they can run away from a predator. This tactic is typically reserved for outdoor predators such as snakes and hawks.

If you have indoor pets that threaten the house mouse, they may play dead until they feel like they are out of danger. However, even that is a rare occurrence. As small rodents, house mice are used to living in danger and are extremely good at being discreet. Their small size also gives them many escape routes.

If a dog or cat catches a house mouse and it has nowhere to escape, they know that playing dead will cause the pet to lose interest in them. They will do it for a few seconds or a few minutes depending on how long it takes your pet to leave them alone.

Most pets, specifically cats, are more interested in the chase than the prize, so they lose interest quickly. When the threat is gone, the house mouse will quickly scurry away to safety.

If you see mouse bodies that appear to be dead, it is more likely that they are actually dead rather than playing dead.

Get Rid of Your House Mouse Problem for Good

As you can see, having a house mouse infestation inside your home can cause several problems for you as a homeowner. If you suspect an infestation in your home, contact a rodent control specialist right away.

Mice are sneaky and discreet, so you should not wait to see a house mouse before you act. Remember that there are other signs of their presence, such as droppings, urine, odor, nests, gnaw marks and more.

A house mouse colony can also make its home in your garden and flower beds. Keeping your landscaping tidy is the best way to prevent them from hiding in mulch and other materials.

Your home and property can remain house mouse free if you follow the tips outlined above and enlist the help of a pest control professional.

ABC Can Control Your House Mouse Infestation

Unfortunately, getting rid of mice requires an in-depth knowledge of how these animals eat, breed and move around, and there are risks that come with setting bait traps and even cleaning your home after an infestation. If you’re dealing with a mouse infestation, avoid the risks associated with battling the problem on your own. Get in touch with the professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services. We’ll help you get rid of your mouse infestation and work with you to create preventative measures so you don’t have future unwanted houseguests.

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.

Learn More

Comments are closed.