You may experience a moment of dread when you first see mice droppings in your home, but you'll need to overcome any revulsion you feel regarding the presence of mice to take action to mitigate the damage they can cause. The longer mice have access to your home, the more difficult getting rid of them may be.
Assume There Are More Mice
Mice scent-mark their areas, and other mice may follow these established trails. In addition to finding droppings, you may hear their scratching and squeaking or find shredded material the mice have used to nest.
You may never actually see the mice moving around your house. Mice move quickly, darting for cover along baseboards and beneath appliances, and they usually come out at night. With heavy infestations, mice may become more visible or daring, running across your bedding at night.
Act Quickly to Address the Problem
Mice are known carriers of several types of disease and parasites. Their chewing can cause damage to structures and furniture. One female mouse can have up to 10 litters of five to six young in a year. With the average lifespan of a mouse ranging from nine months to a year, one pregnant mouse has the potential to create a severe infestation.
Eliminate Food Access
Prevent mice from getting into your food supplies, pet food and garbage. By eliminating their food sources, you may starve the mice out or cause them to go elsewhere looking for an easy meal. Mice may get into foods stored loosely, in cardboard boxes or bags. Place any vulnerable food items into cabinets, the refrigerator or freezer -- where mice are least able to gain access -- or store these food items in glass jars or other containers mice cannot penetrate. Keep your counters, stovetops, oven and floors clean and free of food scraps.
Cover your trashcan and recycling bins both indoors and out, and remove trash from your home daily. Do not leave pet food sitting out after feeding time. If you feed the birds, move your feeders away from your home, or switch to a feeder or type of seed less likely to end up on the ground where mice will have access.
Prevention and Treatment
Take a multi-pronged approach to getting rid of mice. Seal all possible entrances. Mice can fit through openings just over 1/4-inch-wide, climb wires and jump up to 12 inches. Pay particular attention to gaps around plumbing. Use steel wool to plug holes where mice have been chewing. The extension suggests using metal or concrete to plug larger openings.
Set traps and place baits for mice in areas where you find signs of their presence but out of the reach of pets and children. Treat your basement, attic and crawlspace in addition to your living area. If you live in a rural area or an area prone to rodent infestations, do not leave the door to your home open for any length of time. Mice may walk right in while you perform a quick errand.
Cleaning up from an infestation can prove problematic because of the potential for disease.
The Orkin website suggests you air out the affected area for two hours before attempting any cleaning, and wear protective gloves and a face mask to collect mouse droppings and other debris. Orkin also suggests using bleach and water to disinfect surfaces where mice have been present.
- University of Missouri Extension; Controlling House Mice; Robert A. Pierce; November 1993
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension; Controlling House Mice; Stephen Vantassel, et al.; August 2005
- Cooperative Extension System; House Mice Damage Assessment; February 2008
- Cooperative Extension System; House Mice Damage Management; February 2008
- Orkin: How to Clean Up After Mice Infestation
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension; Don't Put the Welcome Mat Out! Pest Proofing; Soni Cochran
- Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images