You’ve had some strange happenings around your home lately, including noticing weird grease marks on your walls and your pets acting strangely. Your normally-calm dog starts barking and growling at your walls out of the blue, and you’re not sure what the issue could be. Then, you spot it: a mouse. But you just saw one, so it can’t be that bad of a situation, you tell yourself. But in reality you’re thinking: If you see one mouse, how many do you have?
Unfortunately, locating a single mouse on your property is not that different than finding a needle in a haystack. These small rodents keep to themselves, and they’re relatively quiet. With their main predators being adept hunters—including cats, snakes, owls, hawks and foxes—they have learned how to be excellent hiders and know how to get around without being detected.
So, if you’ve seen a mouse, especially during daylight hours, it likely means that there are (at least) several more that you aren’t seeing. Mice are nocturnal, so if you’re seeing them during the day, it usually means that their nests have become overcrowded and they’re looking for a new place to live. Which brings us to our next point: A single female mouse can produce up to eight babies in a single litter and consistently produces six babies per litter.
Moreover, gestation periods are very short for mice. In one year, that lone mama mouse can produce up to ten separate litters! That quick math adds up to sixty babies in one year from just one mouse. Before you know it, you may unknowingly be feeding more mice than you can possibly keep track of, and having multiple mice in your home can result in serious damage.
So, should you get professional help if you see a single mouse?
In short: yes. The sight of one mouse is enough to take action. Be proactive and contact trusted rodent control professionals as soon as possible to prevent putting your property and family at risk. Why at risk? Mice and other rodents can spread disease, contaminate food, damage your belongings because of their incessant chewing and even introduce other pests into your home, including fleas and ticks.
With the realization that you likely have a mouse infestation, you probably have a lot of questions going through your head, like how many mice is considered an infestation? In this post, we’ll review everything you need to know about these creatures, including where they hide, your chances of getting sick from them and how to prevent having mice take up residence in yours. But first, let’s start with why mice may choose to live in your home.
Why (And How) Do Mice Take Up Residence In Our Homes?
Like most animal visitors, mice are just looking for a safe and secure place to live and breed when they nest in our attics, crawl spaces, garages, sheds and other areas. They need food, water and shelter, and your home can provide it to them if they are able to gain access.
Mice are highly adapted to invade our property in search of a viable place to raise a family. For example, mice can crawl through the smallest spaces in your foundation or entryways to make themselves at home. They have an uncanny ability to find cracks and openings previously unknown to homeowners. Even if you built a moat around your house, this likely wouldn’t be much of an obstacle to mice because they are great swimmers, jumpers and climbers.
If you are diligent about covering up potential entry points, you may still be susceptible to a mouse infestation, because mice can chew through all kinds of materials, including:
- Soft Concrete
- Power Lines
Once mice get into your home, where are you most likely to find them hiding?
Where Do Mice Hide?
Mice will hide anywhere that they believe is safe for them and their litters. Anywhere they have warmth, food nearby and can generally live undisturbed is a great spot for these rodents to stick around.
Some of the most common mouse nesting spots include:
- Inside or beneath kitchen or bathroom cabinets
- Inside or behind drawers
- In your walls, particularly near heat sources
- Behind kitchen appliances
- Under furniture
- In secluded areas of rarely used rooms, such as in the attic, basement or garage
- In old cardboard boxes
Obviously, mice don’t just live indoors. A family of mice can easily feel comfortable in shrubbery, woodpiles, sheds or other areas that provide adequate shelter for their families. Mice living outdoors will happily settle for the food scraps you keep in your garbage bin and compost pile. The small size and dietary flexibility of mice make it easy for them to take up residence around and inside your property.
Previously, we mentioned that mice are great at going undetected for long periods of time. They’re great at this, because they don’t just run around in your hallways—mice can travel through your walls, as well.
How To Tell If You Have Mice In Your Walls
Hearing scratching noises inside your walls is one of the most obvious signs that you have a mouse infestation. Even if you don’t see droppings or physical rodents yet, those noises are a good sign that it’s time to call in a professional.
If you have pets and you have noticed them staring, barking or growling at the wall, that is another sign of mice nesting in your home.
Any of these additional signs are indicators that you have unwanted guests:
- Mouse droppings
- Musky odor of urine and droppings
- Gnawed marks on furniture, food packaging or walls
- Worn-down “runways” where mice tend to move back and forth
- Nests made out of shredded paper, string, rags or other home materials
Unfortunately, some homeowners are unaware of the dangers that come along with these creatures, including dangers that can stick around even after all of the mice are gone.
What Are My Chances Of Getting Sick From Mouse Droppings?
Mice tend to be depicted as harmless little creatures who enjoy a nibble or two of cheese while they pop in and out of a hole in the wall. Unfortunately, the real story of these creatures isn’t quite so positive. While they certainly will eat cheese, mice don’t mind eating virtually anything else that’s put in front of them. In desperate situations, mice will even eat each other. Yikes!
Moreover, their squeaks can keep you up at night, and as we already mentioned, they can contaminate your food and chew through just about anything, putting your family at risk of disease and electrical fires. One of the most serious risks of having a mouse infestation in your home is an illness you can get from mouse droppings: Hantavirus.
People catch Hantavirus when they inhale air that has been contaminated by mouse urine and droppings. Thankfully, it’s relatively rare, although a third of victims of this condition don’t survive. The first case appeared in the U.S. in 1993, and as of 2017, there had only been 728 reported cases.
If you see small, brown, cylindrical droppings around your home, these are likely mouse droppings, which should be cleaned up using gloves to protect yourself and bleach to sterilize the area.
Unfortunately, Hantavirus isn’t the only way you can get sick from mice. Homeowners should worry about catching other illnesses, such as Salmonella and Rat-bite fever, as both of these sicknesses have been tied to consuming food that has been contaminated by mice. This fact can be unsettling, especially considering that mice like to eat 15 to 20 times a day.
Rodents can also indirectly transmit Colorado tick fever, Lyme disease and a handful of other diseases when they bring fleas and ticks into your home.
Other than diseases, there are additional risks of having mice in your home. Like many rodents, mice teeth don’t stop growing, and so they are constantly chewing to try to shorten them down. If the mice in your home decide to start chewing through your electrical wiring, over time this behavior can lead to expensive damage. In the worst case scenario, the exposed wires can spark and lead to a house fire.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can prevent mice from living in your house.
How To Prevent Mice From Living In Your Home
The first step in keeping mice from spending time on your property is learning how to get rid of rodents, which typically involves hiring a pest control professional with experience in wildlife and rodent removal. Then, take the following steps around your home to avoid future visits from these rodents:
- Seal up or screen any openings that could be a potential entryway for mice. This includes the chimney, windows and weather stripping that may have become worn. Remember, mice are tiny and nimble, so don’t skip over any holes you see, no matter how small they are.
- Don’t tempt mice! Seal food in airtight containers, even if it’s already in a package. That includes pet food and birdseed.
- Take out the garbage regularly and set up bins so that they rest 18 inches above the ground and away from your house. Move your compost pile, woodpile and any other natural hiding spots away from your home.
- Dehumidify the attic, basement, crawl spaces and anywhere that could be dark and damp. Fix leaks and eliminate any sources of moisture that could attract rodents.
When it comes to something as serious as a mouse infestation, as we have already suggested, the most effective option is calling in a professional who understands the habits of these pests.
ABC Can Control Your 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.