Don't Let Maryland Mice Get The Best Of You
With winter well on its way, mosquitoes
plaguing your yard are a thing of the past. With the cooler days and nights, insects have practically disappeared. Unfortunately, there is no off season when it comes to pest infestations. Even if insects aren’t a big threat in the winter, mice are frantically looking for respite from the cold.
What are House Mice?
Although there are several species of mice that infest homes, the most common type, by far, is the house mouse
. As their name indicates, they enjoy making themselves at home inside structures, and as the weather continues to cool off and outdoor food sources become scarce, they’re eagerly looking for a warm place to lodge.
House mice have round bodies that are usually between two and four inches long. Their tails are typically a bit longer than their bodies, doubling their total length. House mice have pointy noses, dark eyes, and large ears. The color of their fur varies from gray to brown, depending on where they live, and they have cream colored underbellies.
House mice prefer to live in dark, secluded areas. When they get into homes, they typically build their nests in the attic, basement, or within the walls. They’ll gather materials from the house for their nests, including paper, insulation, fabric, packing materials, and more.
House mice that live outside feed mostly on seeds, but they will also eat fruits, insects, and nuts. Although they like to live in secluded areas, they are also curious creatures and will explore your home to find food, warmth, and nesting materials. Once they get inside, they’ll eat almost any edible morsel they can find, although they prefer grains. With their large incisors, they can easily chew through packaging to access the food in your cupboards and pantry.
As social creatures, house mice like to live in groups, and they have a well-established social hierarchy with one dominant male at the top of the pecking order and other males within the territory ranking lower. Family units within a territory typically consist of one male and several females.
House mice breed rapidly. One female can give birth to up to six babies every three weeks. As a result of their high fertility rate and short gestation period, what begins as a small infestation can quickly grow in size resulting in a mouse population that is out of control.
What are the signs of an Infestation?
Although they can sometimes be seen during the day, house mice are nocturnal creatures. As a result, it’s possible for home or business owners to have an infestation without actually seeing any mice. Therefore, it’s important to recognize secondary signs of a mouse infestation.
Finding mouse droppings in your home or business is an indicator that mice are living somewhere inside. Mice typically explore at night and leave their droppings in their wake, and some of these droppings will likely end up in your living space. They produce an average of 50 to 75 droppings per day. Mouse droppings are dark in color and shaped like a small grain of rice. You are most likely to find them inside your cabinets, on your counter tops, and in your pantry, as mice will spend a fair amount of time in these locations as they look for food.
As mice explore, they forage for food damaging boxes and packaging in their quest for a snack. Mice are excellent chewers and can easily break into a box of cereal, crackers, pet treats or other tempting food items.
Furthermore, if you find other damaged items in your home or business, it could be an indication of a mouse infestation. Mice may chew through storage boxes, clothing, and other fabrics gathering materials to build their nests.
Mice are rodents. One thing all rodents have in common is that their front incisors never stop growing. This means they must constantly chew on things to keep their teeth at manageable lengths. If you find gnaw marks around your home or business on cabinet doors, baseboards, drywall, or food packaging, they may be from mice.
You won’t find mice showering in your bathroom, and their lack of bathing facilities leaves them with a fair amount of residual oils on their fur. When they travel from place to place, they stick close to walls for safety reasons, often rubbing some of these oils off in the process. If you find trails of greasy markings along your baseboards, they’re likely the result of scampering mice.
Tracks, though less typical than fecal matter or gnaw marks, are also a sign of a mouse infestation in your home. If you suspect an infestation, try sprinkling some flour along the edges of your walls, as well as in your cupboards. If you find tiny prints with four toes in the front and five in the back, you’ll know that you have a mouse problem.
Finding a mouse nest is a sure sign that mice are around. Mice build their nests in secluded spots, so you’re most likely to find them while cleaning up a storage area or the attic. They make their nests out of a variety of soft materials they find in their travels.
Why are mice such a danger to your Maryland home or business?
Mice will cause damage to your home or business by gnawing, however, the damage mice cause to your home extends far beyond the aesthetic. With their constant need to chew, they’ll often chew holes through your walls finding their way to your insulation. They also chew through wires, pipes, and duct work.
Mice also damage and contaminate areas with their urine and fecal matter. Their urine gives off a strong smell that will eventually become unpleasant. Furthermore, saturated insulation becomes moldy from urine. This damage is not only costly, but it also poses threats to your health and well-being.
Mice cause an enormous amount of damage to structures when they get inside. They damage your belongings as they look for nesting materials and a suitable place to call home. They damage and contaminate your stored food as they make snacks of available items in your cabinets or pantry.
They also damage the structure of your home or business. Their droppings and urine are unsanitary. If enough urine soaks through insulation, it can lead to mold and mildew within your walls. Furthermore, they chew on pipes which results in water leaks and increases the risk of undetected mold. Lastly, they chew wires which, if undetected, could result in an electrical fire.
Mice also cause health problems. They spread a number of illnesses, primarily through their feces. Their droppings contaminate food sources and food preparation areas. Without a proper cleaning, these contaminants transfer bacteria such as salmonellosis to humans. Once mouse feces dry out, the emit harmful particles that human beings unknowingly ingest as they breathe. These particles may cause hantavirus, a serious disease that can lead to death.
Although uncommon, mice can also transmit diseases through bites and scratches.
Lastly, mice also introduce parasites, such as fleas, ticks, and tapeworm, into your home. These parasites transfer a variety of illnesses to their hosts, including Lyme disease.
How Can Mice Be Prevented From Getting Inside?
The best way to avoid a mouse infestation is to ensure that you safeguard your home against them. Preventing them from getting inside is far easier than dealing with an infestation. The following prevention tips will help keep mice out of your home or business:
- Make your property uninviting to mice. The more uninviting it is, the less likely mice will come close enough to your home or business to get inside. Do this by keeping the grass trimmed short and removing lawn debris, like leaf litter and fallen branches. This helps eliminate hiding spots that mice use to get close to your residence.
- Eliminate outdoor food sources. Mice know homes or businesses potentially provide a steady supply of treats. If you have a bird feeder, mice scavenge for fallen seeds. If you leave pet food outside, they’ll help themselves when nobody is around. If your outdoor garbage bins are easy to get into, they’ll find a treasure trove of food items in your trash. By removing these food sources or storing them with mouse-proof lids, mice will find the outside of your home or business far less attractive.
- Make entry into your home or business difficult. Mice will exploit any weak spot they can find. These include damaged siding and roof shingles, exposed eaves, gaps around your doors or windows, and even cracks in your foundation walls. Mice can squeeze through openings as small as a dime, and since they have excellent chewing skills, they can often make a tiny hole big enough to fit through. By finding the areas around your house that could act as entry points and fixing or sealing them, you’ll help prevent mice from getting inside.
- Make the inside of your home uninviting to mice. If they still somehow get inside, you’ll want your house to be the kind of place they don’t want to stay. The most important way to make this happen is to eliminate all food sources. That means putting food in airtight containers that mice can’t easily chew through, cleaning up messes and dishes as soon as they’re dirty, sweeping and vacuuming frequently, and removing garbage regularly. Another way to make your home uninviting is to reduce as much clutter as possible. Mice are less likely to stay in your home without available nesting areas.
What Can Be Done if Mice are Already Inside?
If you already detect a mouse infestation, you need to get rid of them as quickly as possible to minimize damage to your health and property. Many people rely on mouse traps to eliminate a mouse infestation, but these usually only work with partial success. Although you may catch one or two mice this way, you’re unlikely to catch every mouse in your house by using traps. Mice are cautious creatures with a keen sense of smell. If you reuse a trap, they’re likely to smell the former occupant and steer clear. They also are aware of changes to their environment and will likely bypass something new in case it’s dangerous.
Trying to eliminate a mouse infestation on your own can also be dangerous to your health and well-being. Getting near the mice can leave you open to bites or scratches, and trying to clean up the feces they’ve left behind without proper safety measures may cause illness.
The best way to eliminate a mouse infestation in your Maryland home is to contact a professional. American Pest has years of experience dealing with mice. We know how to safely eliminate them from your home and keep them out in the future. Our methods
seal off entry points, eradicate the problem, and include follow up visits to ensure your infestation is completely gone. And as always, the safety of you, your family or your employees is our top priority.
When mice invade your Maryland home, don’t wait to take action. Contact American Pest to speak with one of our professionals and set up an inspection. We are here to work with you to make your mouse infestation a thing of the past.