On average, one-third of Americans have experienced problems with mice or other rodents in their homes according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).
Mice can burrow through the smallest of holes, some as small as a dime, and leave their droppings and create nests throughout a building.
In addition to making people sick through inhalation of or contact with their infected droppings, they also destroy property like wood, drywall, and electrical wires.
If You See One Mouse How Many Do You Have?
Oftentimes when you see one mouse, that means there is a high chance that several more are nearby.
This is because one female mouse can birth up to 12 mice at a time, every three weeks.
Even just two mice making their way into an unsuspecting home can create a problem, because mice can quickly reproduce, causing an infestation within just three weeks of inhabiting a building.
The normal lifespan of a mouse is about one year.
This means that one female mouse can give birth up to 17 times in one year and can birth around 200+ mice in her lifespan.
Therefore, it is no wonder that mouse infestations can become a problem within a very short period, and the rapid reproduction rate makes it difficult to effectively exterminate all mice in a building.
Pest World states that about 21 million rodents make their way indoors as the cooler months approach.
The Signs Of A Mice Infestation
Signs that may indicate an infestation include mouse droppings in multiple locations throughout the building.
Common places droppings are found are under sinks or drawers, behind furniture, and under beds.
Other signs include gnaw marks on wood and drywall and damaged food packages or unexplained food droppings around cabinets containing food.
A not as commonly known sign of a mice infestation is a stale smell coming from behind cabinets or furniture.
If you notice any recent damage or holes in your walls, particularly ones that lead to a dark area, this may suggest a mouse has been frequenting this space looking for a hiding place or nesting site.
Additionally, if you notice shredded paper or fabric near these areas, it is also a sign that mice have been traveling in and out transporting materials to create a nest.
Interestingly, if you see a mouse in broad daylight, that is another sign of an infestation.
Mice prefer to forage for food at night when they are less likely to be seen.
If mice are seen in daylight that typically means the number of mice within one area has grown to the point that they are being forced out of the nest by other mice.
How Many Mice Are Considered An Infestation
By definition, an infestation is when something “spread[s] or swarm[s] in or over in a troublesome manner” and “live[s] in or on as a parasite.”
However, it is uncommon to see multiple mice in one area at the same time so it can be difficult to identify if the building is experiencing a one-time occurrence or a swarm of mice.
According to ABC Home and Commercial Services, a pest control service company found primarily in the southern half of the United States, one or two mice is not always considered an infestation.
However, as soon as those mice create a nest and begin to reproduce it is then an actual infestation.
For example, if one or two female mice nest within a building but are not pregnant and therefore unlikely to reproduce, this would not be considered an infestation.
In theory, one would think that these two solitary mice should be relatively easy to bait and catch.
Yet as we have learned thus far, the rate of reproduction is so high for mice that the chances of them entering a building already pregnant or them entering with a male simultaneously is also high.
Common Types Of Rodents Found In Homes
Depending on where you live, the type of rodents typically found in your home can vary.
Some common types of rodents found in homes are:
- Deer mice
- House mice: The most common type of rodent found in buildings.
- Norway rats
- Roof rats
What Areas Attract Mice?
House mice can sneak through a hole as small as a quarter inch, or a dime.
Larger rodents, like Norway and roof rats, can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter.
They create nests in old or rotting wood like fence posts, hollow trees, or existing piles of logs often found outdoors or in basements.
Therefore, owners should check their sheds and barns during the winter months for mice seeking a warm place.
Within the home, house mice like to nest in areas that are often cluttered like basements, attics, and storage closets.
Some rats, like roof rats, prefer to build their nests in higher elevations like attics, inner linings of roof structures, and trees.
Some roof rats will even nest outside of the roof in the relative safety of a rain gutter.
They especially like fruit trees.
The sweet-smelling fruit that has dropped from the branches and left to rot on the ground is very attractive to rats looking for a meal.
Garbage bags not properly stored in a trash can also attract rats who are able to smell the rotting food and other materials.
Harris Interactive, on behalf of the NPMA, sent out an online survey in 2013 to 2,033 adults.
The survey was used to collect information on rodent pests within U.S. households.
They found that 29% of survey respondents have had mouse or rat problems within their homes.
45% of those respondents said that the infestations occurred during the colder months of fall and winter.
They reported that mice were most commonly found in the kitchen (50%), basement (27%), living room (25%), attic or the garage (24%), bedrooms (22%), and bathrooms (11%).
Can Mice Droppings Make Humans Sick?
House mice can, unfortunately, make humans sick by spreading Salmonella and other bacteria if their droppings unknowingly come into contact with human food.
Additionally, allergies and asthma attacks can sometimes be triggered by contact with mice droppings or by breathing in air polluted with mice droppings.
Other illnesses found to be caused by rodents include flea-borne (murine) typhus, rat-bite fever, infectious jaundice, and Weil’s disease.
Deer mice in particular commonly carry hantavirus, which creates problems within the kidneys, blood, and respiratory system and can be fatal in humans.
The urine, feces, and even saliva of the mice that are infected with hantavirus can contaminate the dust that we inhale in our homes.
- Check over the outside of the building and look specifically for small holes, cracks, or crevices that a rodent could enter through. As you are inspecting your home, pay close attention to the walls directly around where pipes or other utilities enter the home, as these are common areas for gaps to occur. These spots can be sealed off using silicone caulk.
- Check the inside of the home for additional holes or cracks that a rodent could be utilizing as a passageway between rooms or floors. Steel wool, cut up into pieces, provides a barrier that mice can’t get through because of the rough texture of the steel fibers. The steel material also makes it difficult for rodents to chew through and create a hole.
- Place a steel or aluminum screen over vents in the home, including vents leading into attics and chimneys. It is common for the screen or covering over the entrance to a chimney to be damaged in bad weather, making it an easy entry point for rats, bats, and a variety of other unwanted animals.
- The foundation and windows of the building may be another entry point. It is common for any exposed foundation of a building to be hidden due to shrubbery and rock gardens. The existing weather-stripping and mortar around the edges may need to be fixed or replaced entirely if it has been damaged by weather and erosion.
- The outdoor landscape of a building can play a role in providing hiding places for rodents to create nests. It is important to keep trees and shrubbery trimmed, keep grass from growing too long, and if placing mulch around the foundation of a building, it should be a minimum of 15 inches away from the foundation.
- Human food, pet food, and bird seed should be kept in a secure container with a closable lid. The container should ideally be made of durable quality materials, particularly if being placed directly on the ground. If possible, bird seed and pet food should not be kept in a shed or barn as these are already common places for mice to nest.
Options To Remove Mice
- Purchase traps from your local Walmart, Home Depot, Target, or Ace Hardware.
- Hire a professional pest control service to remove current mice and prepare your home to deter future mice.
Types Of Traps
- Glue traps have a sticky top that catches the mice as they run over them. These should be placed strategically in areas that are believed to have high mouse traffic to be effective. These types of traps do not always have an alluring smell; therefore, a mouse may not be as interested in it as it would be in a baited trap.
- Snap traps can be effective if they do not malfunction. They use bait—usually human food—to lure the mice in and then close on top of the mouse, usually killing or injuring it. These traps can be dangerous for pets or young children who are curious about the contraption and could lead to an injured hand or paw.
- Live traps are similar to snap traps in that once a mouse enters the trap, it is prevented from exiting. These are less common as they leave the homeowner with the responsibility of killing the mouse themselves or of finding a place to safely dispose of it in the hopes it does not return in the same way it came in originally.
- Baited traps can be effective in luring the mouse in so the poison in the bait can kill the mouse after it has eaten it. However, the bait can be dangerous for pets and young children as it can be lethal even in small amounts. Additionally, if the substance leaks into the ground, it can potentially cause contamination of soil and nearby plants.
According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), bait stations are created in a variety of sizes and forms.
The larger the rodent, the larger the bait station will be to accommodate their body size.
Additionally, a larger-sized station allows for more areas within the device to hold poison and makes it attractive to multiple mice at the same time.
However, the advantage of using smaller mice bait stations is that they are more attractive to mice who are known to forage and burrow into small, tight places.
Therefore, smaller stations are actually more effective in successfully poisoning a mouse than larger bait stations with the same poison would be.
It is important to be aware of the type and size of rodents that you are having problems with so that you can plan appropriately.
Pest Control Services
A professional service company, like Orkin, is specially trained to remove rodent infestations.
They are able to identify whether it is an infestation or a single rodent, the type of rodent, and implement strategies designed to remove the ongoing problem and prevent future infestations.
They have the tools necessary to treat common household rodents like mice, rats, gophers, voles, and groundhogs.
There are a wide variety of pest control services available through a simple Google search in your area, although a few of the more widely known companies are Orkin, Terminix, and Rollins.
When searching for a professional company to solve your infestation problems, there are some questions to keep in mind.
Some questions can be asked in advance and others may not be able to be answered until a service has evaluated the building in person.
- What types of pest control services does the company offer?
- Do they charge an hourly or a flat rate? Is it a mandatory long-term contract or do customers pay a single, one-time fee?
- What services are suggested for the type of structure involved (home, commercial building, barn)?
- If the source of attraction is unknown to the homeowner, what is attracting the rodents to this building?
- Does the company need to return after a set period of time to conduct further treatment(s)?
- What can I do to prepare my home for the extermination services?
- Are the pesticides or other treatments used poisonous to pets or children? Do they offer other options that are less hazardous to the health of those living within the home?
How Much Does A Pest Control Service Cost?
There are several questions a pest control service will likely ask their customers which will impact the amount of money they charge for their services.
HomeAdvisor has compiled these questions that companies may ask you before you hire them.
- If known, what type of pest control do you need help with (small animals, bugs, rodents, birds)?
- Is the infestation within a home/residence or a commercial building?
- How emergent is the situation?
- How quickly do you need services to be completed (ASAP, within a week, flexible timing)?
Some companies will give you a free estimate and inspections, although this is not a requirement of pest control companies and should be determined ahead of time.
It is also important to find out if a company offers these inspections without the obligation to hire them.
Lastly, some companies may guarantee their work.
When interacting with a pest control company, be sure to do your research ahead of time and be prepared to answer questions they may have.