As the weather warms up it may not be surprising to find evidence of a mouse in your house.
But that’s one tenant you don’t want. While they might be cute, they carry parasites and diseases such as salmonella – something you don’t want to affect your family or pets. Their droppings can also worsen the effects of allergies or asthma. They may have been in your home all winter seeking warmth and a food source, but in spring they become more active as they’re getting ready to breed.
Pest control experts say the following are signs you may have a mouse infestation:
- Gnawed plastic or furniture but the best evidence might not always be scattered on your countertops. Another tip-off could be boxes in your pantry that have been chewed through. If you suspect an area is being frequented by rodents, try placing a very thin layer of flour or baby powder there. If rodents are active, you are likely to see their trails in the powder.
- Mouse droppings, which look like dark grains of rice, about a quarter-inch long. Trails of little pellets are considered a major sign. Droppings are most likely to be found near food packages, in drawers or cupboards, under sinks, in hidden areas.
- You hear scratching noises.
- House mice emit musky odors. Cats and dogs may become excited or active in a certain area. If you see your pet pawing at an area in which it had previously had no interest, get a flashlight and examine the area
- You find nests. Mice typically make from shredded fibers and other found materials. They are common in undisturbed areas such as shoeboxes and storage crates. You will find the greatest number of droppings near a nest.
If you see signs of mice you most definitely have more. Mice multiply very quickly. A female mouse is a breeding machine: it gets pregnant about 5 to 10 times each year and can give birth to a litter of 3 to 14 pups each time.
As a result, if you have signs of mice in your home, it’s time to take action to prevent the problem from becoming worse. Home remedies, unfortunately, have no basis in science and don’t work.
How to get rid of them:
- Find their entry point. Determine where they're living and building nests.
- Set store-bought traps. The tried-and-true mousetrap still works, but there are other no-touch options, which conceal the dead rodent and can just be thrown away. Place traps in areas where there is high mice activity. Good places are along baseboards behind appliances, behind objects, and in darkened corners. Use a high protein bait, such as peanut butter, fried bacon, salami, or other mice favorites such as oats, and chocolate. The success of your bait depends upon the availability of other food, so be sure to clean thoroughly before setting traps. Professional-grade traps for an improved catch rate. If a mouse is only trapped by their arm, leg, or tail, they can run off with a trap that isn’t secured to the floor. A sticky putty is an acceptable way to do this without using nails.
- Use calk and steel wool to seal up the house. Mice cannot chew through calking or steel wool. Mice can get through the area the size of a dime, not to mention chew to make the opening larger. Pay really close attention to where pipes enter the house and along the basement foundations. Be sure to replace weather stripping, and make sure you've screened the vents and the openings of your chimneys.
- Check the garage.If they get into the garage, they might just decide to live under your vehicle’s hood, where the engine is nice and warm. Once they're under there, they can start eating wires and cause serious damage.
- Prune shrubbery away from the house. Trim branches back from the exterior and keeps stacks of firewood – where mice like to nest – at least 20 feet from the house.
- Seal food in airtight containers. Such containers are less attractive to mice. Don’t leave dog food out all day which offers rodents another source of food.
- Know when to call in the pros. Ensure they are licensed and it’s a good idea to get a consultation which is often free.
If you don’t notice have a mice problem, you’ll still want to take the opportunity to prevent and protect your home. That includes keeping your home free of crumbs or debris. Even a tiny leak from an under-sink pipe can be enough to keep a mouse hydrated.
Remember, mice are looking for food, water, and shelter. Cut off that access and mice likely won’t move in.
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