Mice in the House

Image via flickr by twoshortplanks

Mice in the house are a common household problem. They can live for a year or more in the sheltered conditions of your home, and breed up to ten litters a year, each with five to six babies. In just six weeks, these new mice are old enough to reproduce on their own. If you have a mouse infestation, it’s essential to act quickly.

Hazards of Mice in the House

Mice are more than just a nuisance in the home. They can cause some severe problems, including:

  • Increased risk of house fires due to gnawed wires
  • Damage to the home
  • Spread of bacteria
  • Spread of illnesses
  • Worsening of asthma and allergy symptoms

Identifying a Mouse Infestation

Watch for signs of a mouse infestation that will let you know these rodents have infiltrated your house. Mouse droppings are dark pellets about the size and shape of a grain of rice. You’ll typically find these in trails around the perimeter of the room, where mice like to run. These trails may show dust pushed aside from the mouse’s activity and can include urine and grease marks.

Mice will often leave behind destruction; they may gnaw through cardboard boxes, plastic bags, or paper candy wrappers. They will also chew into pillows and upholstery. In some cases, you may hear mice skittering through the walls or around the attic. A musty, stale smell is another indicator of mice in the house.

Don’t forget to check your garage for signs of mice and include this part of the home in your treatment plan. The warmth of your vehicle may attract mice and encourage them to curl up under the hood. Here, they can gnaw on wires and do extensive damage to your car.

It’s rare to have just one mouse in the home. If you notice signs of an infestation, you probably have several mice.

How to Get Rid of Mice With Traps

The best way to get rid of mice is with traps. Follow these steps to choose, set up, and utilize your traps properly.

First, select your traps. There are several options available, including:

  • Snap traps
  • Live capture traps
  • Glue traps
  • Electronic traps

It’s best to use a variety of mouse traps in your home. Some mice are better at evading a particular type of trap than others. Using several different types of traps will increase your chances of catching all the mice in your house.

Second, add the bait. Peanut butter is one of the most popular choices for mouse trap bait. It’s inexpensive and very effective. You need only a pea-size dollop in most cases to attract the mouse. The stickiness of the peanut butter forces the mouse to stop and eat, which makes it more likely that it will trigger the trap.

Other foods that will effectively attract mice include dried fruit, oatmeal, butter, chocolate, and bacon. If you use food like fruit that the mouse can quickly run off with, you should affix it to the trap with a piece of string or a small application of hot glue; this will keep the mouse in place until it is appropriately captured.

Third, place the traps. Place your mouse traps in areas where you’ve seen signs of the infestation. A mouse’s territory is typically limited to an area that is 10 to 20 feet away from their food source and nest. Move your traps every two to three days to increase your chances of catching all the mice.

Mice like to travel along walls, so it’s best to place traps flush with a wall. Place the bait end of the trap against the wall so the mouse encounters the food first and can’t run through the trap backward, triggering it ineffectively.

Other Types of Mouse Control

Mousetraps are the easiest option for homeowners to use independently. Other mouse control methods are best handled by a pest control professional. A professional can set up bait stations in your house that will safely eliminate the mice in your home. These bait stations consist of a package of edible pellets that mice will feed on. These pellets are poisonous and will kill any mouse that feeds on it.

It’s important to let a professional place the bait to ensure that it’s well away from pets and children, and positioned in the most effective place for your infestation.

How to Keep Mice Away

Exterminating the mice in your home isn’t practical if you don’t address their entry points. A mouse can squeeze through an opening the size of a dime. Inspect your home for possible entry points and carefully seal these areas. Mice can’t get through caulk or steel wool, so these are effective methods for plugging troublesome openings.

Use weather stripping to create a good seal along the bottom of doors, and caulk around pipes and wires where these fixtures enter the house.

How to Discourage Future Infestations

Dealing with mice can be an ongoing battle, especially if you live in a rural area where they’re plentiful in the wild. Take steps to make sure you’re not unintentionally attracting mice to your home.

  • Keep the house clean. Mice can survive on just a few crumbs. Leaving even a small amount of food out will attract them.
  • Pick up pet food. Place pet food out for a limited amount of time and pick up any uneaten food promptly. Leaving a food dish out all day provides a constant source of food for mice.
  • Clear your landscape of weeds and shrubbery near the house. Mice can hide in this foliage.
  • Place gravel around the foundation of your house to stop mice from burrowing into the soft ground around your home.
  • Consider getting a dog or cat. These pets will often catch mice for you, mainly if they’re kept active and not overfed.

If you’re battling a mouse infestation, a pest control professional can provide a home assessment and give you detailed information on how to proceed. Don’t let mice linger. You should address this issue as soon as possible.

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