You’ve just gotten out of bed. Maybe you’re hungry and grabbing a midnight snack or a glass of water. As you’re entering the kitchen, you catch a glimpse of a small dark creature scurrying across the floor.
Depending on your level of awareness, maybe the sight gives you a start. Or maybe you scream at the top of your lungs and wake everyone in the neighborhood. Either way, you realize that you have mice in the house and suddenly, so let’s dive into and find out how to get rid of mice.
You’ve come to the right place. You’re going to want to start by figuring out if you have a family of mice living in your house, or if you just have one mouse that happened to get lost and wander inside.
Once you’ve figured out if you have a lone house mouse or an infestation, you’re going to want to figure out how you want to get rid of it (or them). In this article, you’re going to learn how to identify the number of mice in your house and how to get rid of mice.
How to Get Rid of Mice
Identifying a Pest Problem
Ideally, if you’re going to have mice in the house, the best case scenario is that you only have one. If you have an infestation, there will be other clues.
For starters, you might hear scratching noises in the walls and ceiling. Mice are nocturnal creatures and tend to do their work after dark, so you’ll hear them in the walls and ceiling late at night.
Mice tear up fabric because they use it to create their nests. If you notice chewed clothing or upholstery, especially if it’s shredded, you might have an infestation. And speaking of mice eating things, if you see chewed holes in furniture or cabinets, there’s a good chance you have an infestation. Mice make holes in structures to create hideaways for their nests.
Like any other creature, mice have to eat. They like the same food that humans like, so you might find chewed food containers and inexplicable crumbs around the house, as mice can raid your pantry.
And of course, creatures that eat need to defecate. If you find tiny black pellets in out-of-the-way places, you might have mice. If you have a black light, you’ll also be able to detect urine.
Rats vs. Mice
House mice are one of the most common pests, so chances are if you have a rodent problem, you’re dealing with mice. However, variations in the above signs can tell you if you have a mouse problem or a rat problem.
Visually, you can see the difference between a mouse and a rat. Rats are much bigger than mice, and this shows in their droppings and homes as well. Rat droppings are larger than mouse droppings, at least half an inch. While holes mice gnaw into furniture are small and neat, about as big as a dime, rat holes have jagged edges and are about the size of a quarter. Rats will also make their home either outdoors or in attics, while mice prefer to be closer to their food source.
Dangers of Having a Mouse Infestation
As mice move around in your home, looking for food and places to make their nest, they have no qualms about relieving themselves as they go, including on and around food and food prep surfaces.
Unfortunately, mice can carry diseases and bacteria. One of the dangers of having mice in your living space is contracting Lymphocytic choriomeningitis. In layman’s terms, Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is a condition you risk contracting if you come in contact with mouse urine, droppings, saliva, or the materials used to nest by infected mice. As you can probably imagine, transferral via saliva means a mouse bite can cause an infection as well.
The initial symptoms are similar to those of the common flu (lack of appetite, headache, nausea, vomiting) but it can escalate to a neurological condition.
Even though you don’t see them, mice could have walked all over your kitchen counters with their dirty paws and used the bathroom on those plates in the cabinet. That’s a health risk if your house has a rodent infestation.
Besides health problems, mice can cause a fire if they decide the wiring in your house looks like a tasty snack. They’re also destructive, if they choose to use pieces of your clothing as part of their nest, or make their nest in your expensive furniture.
If you suspect that you have mice in your house, your best bet is to deal with it as soon as possible. Mice reproduce quickly; if you see one mouse, you could have up to five dozen mice in a year, and that’s just one generation. Those five dozen can start having litters themselves in only six weeks.
Home Remedies for Getting Rid of Mice
If you love animals, including mice, you might not want to think about having to call an exterminator who will set lethal traps. Additionally, if you lay out poison for them, you don’t want them returning to their nests in your walls and dying, leaving you with a terrible odor.
There are a few tactics and home remedies for getting rid of mice you can take to get rid of mice humanely without setting live traps or poison.
Find Their Entrance
Search inside your home for any access holes and make sure they are closed up. It’s important to work from the inside out to drive the mice out of the house. You can caulk small holes and put steel wool in larger ones to deter the mice. It’s important to make sure to close off every hole since a mouse can squeeze through a hole as small as a quarter of an inch.
How to Best Catch a Mouse
Instead of the typical traps that trigger and squish the mouse, there are types of pest control that are humane. They consist of a small box with a weight-sensitive plate, and when mouse steps on the plate to access the bait inside, the box closes.
The mouse can then be released far from the house in the outdoors. The live trap method is the best way if you’re only dealing with one or two mice, but it would be ineffective against an infestation.
Don’t immediately go to cheese for trap bait. A sweet treat like chocolate or peanut butter will work better.
Remove All Food Sources
Chances are, your mouse problem started because they thought your house was a good source of food. Similar to when you want to get rid of ants, discourage your mouse visitors by cutting off their access to food.
Put food away instead of leaving it out overnight.
Close your trash cans tightly.
Transfer your pet food from paper bags to plastic containers that mice can’t chew through.
Make sure all food is sealed and store it in hard containers whenever possible.
Clean up all spills quickly and sweep the floor on a regular basis.
There are also ultrasonic devices you can use in your home to drive mice away. They send out electronic pulses that drive them crazy and cause them to find another home. These pulses are safe for humans and larger pets.
Killing Rats and Mice
Mouse traps are classic for a reason, they work. Place them in areas you are sure the mice travel, bait them, and they’ll do the rest. Once the mouse trap snaps, you only have to get rid of the carcass and reset for any other mice.
Glue traps are also useful. The glue trap is a small piece of cardboard covered in very sticky glue. Place it along baseboards, and once rodents step on it, they get stuck and eventually suffocate.
Poison is not recommended for mice infestations, as all of the mice might not eat it as they start to die, and then you have dead mice in areas of your home that you might not be able to reach.
Cats are also a common way to get rid of mice. If you have a pet cat, you are less likely to have mice in your house. The mice can smell the presence of a cat and will usually stay away.
It is recommended to call an exterminator if you have an infestation, as they will tailor a removal method to your situation and home.
Keep Mice Out of Your House
Whether you’ve gotten rid of a mouse infestation or you want to prevent one before it starts, it’s important to keep mice out of your house. Here are a few ways to keep mice out of your house for good.
Exposed food gives mice reason to enter your house, so store food in sturdy containers.
Make sure no tree branches are within six inches of your house.
Keep your outside area free of garbage, old appliances, old cars, or any places mice could easily hide. Piles of wood or brush should be far away from the house and separated by clean, mowed grass.
Close all cracks and holes, both inside and outside.
Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and place them in any areas that mice might try to get in, as peppermint oil is a natural mouse repellent.
Not a Creature Was Stirring, Not Even a Mouse
You’re probably familiar with mice — they’re small and cute, but they can also be a nuisance. The last thing you want to do is find one in your kitchen at two in the morning. Use the tips suggested in this article to keep your house free of mice or, if you already have mice in your home, use the tips to get rid of them.
In this article, you learned how to get rid of mice. You learned how to tell if you have an infestation, some home remedies for getting rid of mice, and how to keep mice from entering your home in the first place.
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