Holiday mouse problem got you down? One of my long-term clients who ended up putting in our rodent traps, first found this problem during the holidays.
For many families, leaving cookies out for Santa is part of the fun of celebrating the holiday season. Unfortunately, it might not be Santa (or a parent dressed up as him) who eats the cookies this year.
If you have a mouse problem, your furry little visitors would be happy to claim first dibs on the cookies… and the gingerbread house… and any other food they can squeeze or gnaw their way into.
Don’t worry, though – they probably won’t eat the whole cookie. They’re more likely to nibble on all the cookies and leave the chewed-up remains for you.
And lest you think they’re ungrateful for the food, they’ll probably leave a gift in return – in the form of rice-shaped pellets of mouse poop.
Fortunately, dung isn’t the type of present you have to smile at awkwardly while pretending to like it.
In this article, we’ll help you to diagnose your mouse problem to see how serious it is and tell you how to get rid of it, so Santa and his parent-shaped doppelganger can have the cookies all to themselves.
Mice vs. mouse: how many pests are in your house?
Your first step is to determine approximately how many mice you’re dealing with. A few mice can be handled on your own, but if there’s a large and well-established infestation, you might need professional help.
One of the more obvious signs of a mouse problem is the droppings they leave behind. Mice have no problem pooping where they eat, and they also tend to leave feces along the runways where they travel the most.
These droppings are about 1/4 of an inch long, and under a magnifying glass, they show distinct longitudinal ridges and squared-off ends. Fresh droppings are black, then they turn brown over the first week and eventually fade to grey.
One adult mouse will usually create 50-75 droppings each day, so you can use the amount of poop you see to estimate how many critters you’re dealing with.
How do I get mice in my house?
Here are some factors that can encourage mice to take up residence in your home:
- Food, including pet food, being left exposed in or near your house.
- Clutter in and around your house, such as firewood piles, where mice can hide and make nests.
- Holes in your walls, foundations, and screens, which grant mice entrance. These should be sealed off, and any vents that shouldn’t be totally plugged should be covered with screen or steel wool to discourage mice and bugs from entering.
How do you find and identify a mouse nest?
Mice usually make their nests in secluded corners and nooks, such as inside walls, beneath cabinets, in cluttered and heated garages and attics, inside furniture upholstery, and beneath kitchen appliances.
These nests are made of scraps such as cloth, paper, wood sticks, cardboard, and stuffing from pillows and mattresses, or any other soft materials the mouse can steal or gnaw off.
Mice don’t like the cold, so they’ll usually set up their nest somewhere warm.
How fast do mice reproduce?
Mice are prolific year-round breeders. One female can have 5-10 litters per year, with an average of 6-8 babies per litter.
That means a single pair of mice can produce between 30 and 80 babies in just one year! To make matters worse, female mice reach sexual maturity within 6-8 weeks, while males take only 4-6 weeks, so those babies will quickly join their parents in filling your home with vermin.
Holiday Mouse problem prevention strategies
Because mice breed so fast, the best cure is to catch them early. For a small infestation, we recommend using mouse traps in strategic locations.
Identify the areas where mice travel regularly. These will usually be marked by trails of droppings and footprints.
Then, set the traps in pairs about an inch apart, to prevent mice from jumping over them.
Mice tend to run close to walls, so we recommend placing the traps perpendicular to the wall, with the trigger end almost touching it.
Placing a few traps randomly in your house is unlikely to get the job done, and for a large infestation, you’ll need a lot of traps. Put pairs of traps in every area where the mice travel and do your best to empty and replace them quickly when they catch a rodent.
Already got a mouse problem that you don’t want to deal with on your own?
If you’ve already got a mouse infestation in your house, and it’s too big or you’re too busy for a do-it-yourself extermination, we’re here to help. Visit this page to get a free inspection and quote from our pest control experts today!