Mice may not have the same bad reputation that rats do, but they have many unfortunate similarities. Just like with various kinds of rats, the house mouse can damage your home, overpopulate quickly, and contaminate food. If you are having problems thanks to house mice, check out the complete Bulwark guide on these pests. You'll learn how to get rid of mice in house areas like garages and basements, as well as what to do if the problem has spread to other areas.

What Are House Mice?

The house mouse is a common rodent species with a wide distribution throughout the world. They have grown so common and so connected to human civilization that the average person is more likely to find them as pests or as pets than in the wild. True to their name, house mice often find and eat food meant for people or their pets. They particularly enjoy sweets and nuts, but will also eat grains, such as bags of rice or dry dog food. The common signs used to detect them are droppings, tracks, and fresh gnawing on nearby objects or walls.

What Do House Mice Look Like?

Image via Flickr by Dunleavy Family

Like with most mice, these animals are smaller than rats, usually less than 7 inches from the nose to the end of the tail. Their fur is smooth and a mix of gray and light brown. Their ears are large and mostly hairless, and their tails have a bald and scaly texture or are slightly hairy. Compared to field mice, their hind feet are fairly short.

Where Do House Mice Live?

House mice are well-distributed throughout the world wherever humans build shelter. Because they tend to rely on human shelter, they can even survive in climates that would normally kill them, such as hot and dry deserts. Unlike rats, which are very cautious rodents that don't venture very far from their nests, house mice will explore and do not settle in one place. They create nests out of shredded material, especially paper.

Problems With House Mice

The house mouse has an unpleasant, musky odor that becomes more pronounced as the population grows. The issues with these rodents go far beyond smell, however. House mice are dangerous and costly household pests for two key reasons:

  1. House mice gnaw on anything in sight, causing damage to walls, furniture, and even important pipes or electrical systems. Damaged wires could even lead to a fire.
  2. House mice are carriers for fleas and mites, which in turn spread diseases like rickettsial pox and typhus. Both a mouse and its droppings can potentially spread salmonella and other dangerous bacteria or viruses, as well as parasites like tapeworm eggs. Their exploration could spread dangerous pathogens to your entire home.

What's more, the house mouse is one of the most prolific home pests, breeding frequently. A homeowner should take pest control measures at the first sign of these pests, which usually means mouse droppings. Otherwise, their population could burst and controlling them will be much more difficult.

House Mice Control Solutions

The most important way to control a house mice problem is through keeping them out. They are skilled at slipping through narrow crevices or holes, so take a thorough look at any potential entrances into your home through the foundation, damages latticing, improperly sealed windows or vents, and other places. 

Because house mice are naturally curious, traps are an effective way to curb their presence. Be sure to put traps anywhere you see signs of them, not just where you saw the mice themselves, and put the traps in covert places that they have passed over, such as inside a sink cabinet or in the corner of a closet.

It may be best to contact pest control experts early if you suspect or know that you are dealing with house mice. The team at Bulwark have the experience needed to diagnose your pests, what caused them to get inside, and how to keep them out for good.

Common House Mice Questions

Why Do Mice and Rats Gnaw on Things?

Mice, rats, and other rodents have teeth that constantly grow. In the wild, these animals would chew on old wood or other tough materials as a way to whittle their teeth down. If they didn't do this, their teeth would grow too large and interfere with eating and drinking. Gnawing also helps with their nests, providing material and chiseling a space to build if they cannot burrow a hole in the ground.

How Do House Mice Reproduce?

One of the reasons why house mice breed so quickly is their brief pup stage. Adults reach sexual maturity after only two months, and gestation after mating takes only three weeks as well. Each female gives birth to a litter of four to seven pups. House mice also live fairly long for rodents, around two to three years. In that time, a single female house mouse can give birth to eight litters.

How Agile Are House Mice?

Although the house mouse isn't known for being especially quick, it has excellent agility. They can climb rough surfaces such as concrete walls with ease, even when completely vertical. They also have excellent balance and are able to run along a thin rope or wire cable without falling. They can leap up to 13 inches in the air and can slip through cracks as thin a half an inch. Combine that with their extremely good hearing, and they are quick to detect threats and escape.

Were Pet Mice Bred From House Mice?

Yes, the house mouse was selectively bred into the fancy mouse, the most common pet mouse, in the same way that Norway rats were bred into the fancy rat. Laboratory mice are also a separate species bred from the house mouse.

If you ever see what you think might be rodent droppings, let alone a mouse or rat, contact Bulwark and get a thorough assessment from an expert. Knowing what kind of pest you are dealing with will help you fix the problem early and with minimal damage.

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