Mice might be smaller and less unsightly than their ancestral siblings, the rats - but they are just as much of a nuisance. Fuelled by hunger and curiosity, these "cute" creatures can cause a whole host of problems; spreading over 35 diseases and destroying houses and homes by over breeding. Here are some handy tips on how to deal with a mice infestation:
Identifying a problem
Mice can breed incredibly quickly with just one female mouse capable of producing up to 10 litters a year! So, it's very important to spot an infestation early. Here are a few tell-tale signs that might indicate whether there is a problem:
- Droppings: 1/8 to 1/2 inches long, dark in colour and pointed at both ends, similar to a sesame seed.
- Markings: Mice have oily fur and leave grey smears on surfaces they come into contact with.
- Mice are particularly active at night and can often be heard running, gnawing or squeaking.
- A distinctive "musky" smell usually associated with their nests.
- Visual sightings: mice are nocturnal but have a flashlight handy and you might spot them after dark.
- Finding a nest: Nests are often found in garages, attics, outbuildings and cellars. They build nests from wool, cloth, foil and paper and are usually the size of a tennis ball.
Super-mouse! Mice can jump an incredible 3-4m without injuring themselves in the process - handy for getting down the stairs or on top of a fridge freezer unit.
How to deal with mice
Mice are scavengers and their rodent instincts allow them to find food very easily. With access to a food source they will breed, rapidly but if you can shut off access to that food you have a chance of slowing them down. After all, less food equals fewer mice!
Mice can settle in even the cleanest of homes but here are some tips on how to make your home less attractive to them:
- Sweep leftover food away from kitchen tops and hoover your floors regularly.
- Mice have a real knack for finding their way out of a tight spot. One way to limit their access to your home or work place is by sealing off entry points.
- Keep food in metal and glass containers as mice will gnaw through most other materials with relative ease.
- Seal rubbish in a tight lidded bin and keep it closed when not in use.
- Rub peppermint oil or place a cat litter tray near known problem areas. Mice are known to dislike the smell.
If your mouse problem is already underway you could have a go at tackling it yourself:
- Mice traps can be helpful way of catching rodents and they don’t always have to be inhumane.
- Bait stations can be set up in pipes and boxes can be placed in a known mice travel-route.
- Poisons are also effective when used in the right way (mice have been known to cause a foul smell under floorboards after being poisoned.)
If you have any doubts over which method will work best for you or you just can’t seem to stop the infestation then you should contact an experienced pest controller who will be able to advice you how best to proceed.
Slim Fit: Mice can squeeze through gaps as narrow as the width of a pencil! So, once you relieve yourself of a mice problem it is worth investigating how it started.
The winter months are a particularly active period for pest controllers as rodents will invade dwellings to take shelter from the cold. Mice are nocturnal creatures and they will generally keep out of the way of humans but not if food is involved. Like rats, mice will appear in places where this lots of shared waste, so it is worth keeping an eye on your neighbours' waste disposal habits if you want to keep your street rodent-free.
Did you know? It is widely accepted that peanut butter and chocolate are more effective in trapping mice than cheese.
Problems caused by mice
Once a mouse finds its way into your home, you can be confident that more will follow. Rodent over breeding can cause structural damage, disease, damage to electrical goods and lead to the soiling of food stocks. From burrowing through walls and biting through electrics to destroying loft insulation, mice can be a destructive force when provided with the right conditions to survive.
Rats and mice are reputed to be the cause behind the bubonic plague also known as the "Black Death". A highly deadly disease it killed one-third of Europe's population during the middle-ages. Admittedly, healthcare was much worse then but there have been several cases in the past 20 years reported including one death in Kazakhstan in 2013.
Mice are known for gnawing their way through anything in their path, whether its walls or flooring rodents can cause serious structural damage to properties.
Food contamination is another big issue caused by mice. They urinate and leave faeces everywhere they go which means they can often contaminate food stuffs meant for human consumption. With their daily search routes being limited these tracks can be incredibly close to food sources meaning the risk of eating damaged food can be great.
Mice Fact: Creature of Habit
Mice will only forage short distances from their nest (usually no more than 8 or 9 meters) so they can often be found quite easily with the right know-how.
More facts about mice:
- Tiny mice: the world's smallest mouse is the African Pygmy. Adults are between 1.2 - 3.1 inches.
- Ultrasonic: mice talk using both regular sounds and ultrasonic. This is why some pest controllers have tested ultrasound as a preventative control measure.
- Mice can cough: according to scientists in China, mice can cough. They measured the abdominal responses of selected mice in hopes of improving cough medicine.
- A big appetite: the average mouse consumes around 4g of food per day and they are responsible for the destruction of a whopping 5% of the world's food stock per year.
- Mouse stroke: not only can mice survive jumps of up to four meters but they are also known to be efficient swimmers.
- Endless mice: scientists in Japan made 581 mice from just one tissue donor - that's a rat catcher's worst nightmare!
- Nice gnashers: mice's teeth never stop growing - up to five inches a year and perfect for gnawing through material.
- Against the wall: mice are known to prefer travelling adjacent to walls and other edges when on their daily explorations.
- Taking the pee: like a not so pleasant version of Hansel and Gretel, mice leave a trail of urine as a way of knowing where they have been.
- Double or quits: female mice are prolific in their child birth. One female mouse can have as many as 150 children in a single year (another reason to get rid!).
- Ancient criminals: the word 'mouse' comes from an ancient Sanskrit word meaning "thief" which is presumably due to the amount of food that they steal.
Read about Rats here.