While you may not mind sharing your home with your family and friends throughout the winter, there are certain household guests you do not want to host. One of the most common winter pests who will try to take up residence in your home if you are not careful and do not take certain steps to ensure this does not happen is a common house mouse. Failure to prevent their habitation could lead to property damage as well as disease in your home.
Cold weather makes everyone and everything look for somewhere nice and warm to spend the winter. House mice are no exception. They are looking for somewhere that will provide them with food, shelter, and somewhere to make their nest and breed. Unfortunately, your home fits all of these criteria. Since they are nocturnal creatures who prefer the dark, they are especially attracted to your attic and basement.
A house mouse normally is a small pointed nose creature with small ears and whiskers who measures between 2 - 3 inches long, with a tail that can add up to 2-4 more inches in their length. They come in a wide range of colors and can range from white to black, with many colors in between.
House mice are often confused with rats, and people will use the names interchangeably. The main difference between the two is their size. A rat is normally much larger. Whereas a mouse normally does not get any larger than a few ounces, a rat can weigh up to a pound.
Signs And Symptoms Of Infestation
If you are like many people, you may hear a mouse in your home before you actually see one. You may hear scurrying, scratching, or even high toned squeaks coming from the area the mice are in. There are also other signs you may see. These signs include the following:
- Damage caused by gnawing
- Feces or fecal pellets
- Urine stains and more
If you suspect you have an area that has been infected by mice, inspect the area in the dark with the assistance of a black light. Many of their bodily fluids, including their urine, will fluoresce under a black light. The use of a black light will not only confirm their presence, but will also give you indicators of their paths, or where they are traveling to within your home. This will help you in eliminating them.
Diseases They May Carry
While some people think mice a cute little cuddly creatures and make the perfect pet, others a desperately afraid of them and rightly so. Worldwide, mice, rats, and other rodents, have been known to be the cause of more than 35 different diseases. Here in the US some of these diseases are:
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
- Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus
- Rat-Bite Fever
Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of these diseases many times will appear to be winter cold and flu symptoms and may be hard to detect until the condition has progressed. In addition to these diseases, there are other diseases that can be spread to you and your family indirectly by the ticks, mites, or fleas that the mice may be carrying.
Ways To Keep Mice Out Of Your Home
The old saying states, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The best way to deal with house mice is to prevent them from entering your home in the beginning. Because of the composition of their bodies, mice are able to enter very small holes. If they are able to fit their heads through, they will be able to get the rest of their body through. Look for holes in the following places:
- Around any pipes, vents or hoses going to the outside
- Around utility cables, and gas lines
- Surrounding your doors
- Along your foundation
- Inside your basement or crawl space
- Inside your attic
- Along your rafters, gables and roofing eaves
Anywhere you are able to see a beam of light come through should be sealed. Not only will this prevent mice, other rodents, and bugs from coming in, it will keep your heat from going out.
To keep the mice from attempting to dig through the hole once it is fixed, fill small holes with small amounts of steel wool, and then seal them with caulking. Larger holes may need to be fixed with lath screen, cement, or hardware cloth.
If you know that you already have an infestation. Call a local exterminator, such as Cavanaugh's Professional Termite & Pest Services. They will have the equipment, and knowledge necessary to get rid of your mice without exposing your family to the risk of disease. By eliminating the mice in your home, your story can have a happy ending.