According to PestWorld.org, mice invade an estimated 21 million homes each winter in the United States alone. In fact, they are one of the most common household pests homeowners can expect to encounter in their homes. Despite being a frequent visitor to residential dwellings, there is still much mystery surrounding how and why mice thrive hidden away in our homes. How do they get around? Why do they live in walls and ceilings? Can mice climb the exterior and interior walls of a home? In this article, we peel back the layers of mystery that surround a mouse’s ability to navigate within the unseen cavities of our homes.
Mouse, Rat, or Something Else Entirely?
It’s important to understand that mice aren’t the only rodents you may experience in your home. While mice are certainly among the most common, homeowners should be aware that mice aren’t always to blame for skittering and scratching in their walls or ceilings. Rats are another common culprit, as well as the rare squirrel, mole, vole, or gopher. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on mice.
Mice are small rodent mammals of the Muroidea superfamily. Sometimes confused with rats, mice are characteristically smaller in size than rats and are easily recognized by their pointed snout, rounded ears, and long tails. Some of the more commonly encountered mice include the aptly named house mouse, deer mouse, and white-footed mouse. All three of these mice are known for their tendency to frequent homes and personal residences. Unfortunately for homeowners, these mice, like all mice, reproduce at incredibly prolific rates. The rapid reproduction of mice should be cause for concern when you find one in your home – chances are, if there truly is just one mouse in your house, there will be many more before long.
How Long Do Mice Live?
Not only do mice reproduce expeditiously, but they can also live for a considerable amount of time if living safely indoors. Once a female mouse becomes pregnant, she will give birth in just three short weeks. Each litter can contain up to eight “pups,” and females may reproduce as many as ten times per year. The baby mice will reach maturity and be able to reproduce themselves within two months after being born. This cycle of reproduction will continue for the entirety of a mouse’s lifespan, which is approximately 2-3 years on average. Needless to say, this spells trouble for homeowners with a mouse problem.
Why Do I Have Mice in my Home?
Mice are particularly drawn to certain areas within a home, such as garages, ceilings, inside walls, under kitchen cabinets or fridges, and in basements or crawl spaces. These mice “hot spots” can help determine why mice have decided to take up residence in your home. What attracts mice to heavily trafficked and clearly occupied homes? Why do they choose to stay, live, and even reproduce in homes? And why can’t you get rid of them?
While there are seemingly limitless reasons why a mouse may enter your home or garage, there are a few broadly defined causes for unwelcome rodent visitors.
- Food - Whether you realize it or not, you could be unintentionally feeding the mice that make their way into your home. This is one major reason mice tend to seek out residences: unlimited food supply. Mice are hardy little creatures and can easily survive off of unnoticed crumbs and food scraps, or worse, make their way into your kitchen pantry for the real buffet. Mice are also known to help themselves to bags of grain, birdseed, grass seed, pet food, or other bulk food items that you may store in your garage. They may squeeze their way into your car in search of trash like half-empty takeout bags or dropped morsels from your morning's grab-and-go breakfast.
- Water - Your home can be a reliable water source for mice. With so many rooms having access to readily available water – think kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and even garages – mice will never have to stray from the home for a quick drink. Mice can go a month or more without water, and even with easily accessible water available to them, they only need about 4ml to be quenched. Because they need so little water, they can survive by finding it in unexpected ways, such as by drinking condensation from water pipes, consuming excess water from houseplants, and helping themselves to a pet’s water bowl. This means that no matter how watertight you believe your home is, a mouse can still thrive.
- Shelter - The most obvious reason that mice scurry indoors is for shelter from predators and the elements. In the summertime, mice will seek shelter for a reprieve from the heat. As we cool our homes for our own comfort throughout the summer, we’re unintentionally providing a temperature-controlled environment perfect for mice to find relief in. The same can be said for the winter. Consistently warmed homes offer an escape for mice from the bitter cold and provide an excellent home base for building their nests. The constant need for comfortable and safe shelter is exactly why mice are not considered a seasonal pest but rather a year-round one. This is especially true for homes with garages, where mice can live undetected for a long time and find plenty of dark places to hide and nest.
Homes with attached garages are especially at risk for mouse activity.
How do Mice Get Around My House if I Never See Them?
Mice are experts in remaining undetected - in fact, if you have become aware of their presence, it’s likely because there are now too many to remain quiet or unseen! Mice can stay hidden for long periods of time due to both their agility and their adaptive habits. Because of their small flexible bodies and strongly clawed toes, mice can climb, shimmy, and squeeze through even the smallest of spaces within walls and ceilings.
Mice are actually excellent climbers and can scale any surface that isn’t perfectly smooth. This means that they can not only climb within wall cavities and navigate through the entirety of your home but also scale exterior walls in an effort to enter your home through the roof or chimney.
In addition, mice can remain hidden from human eyes by laying low during the day and only coming out of hiding at night for food or water. Many believe mice to be nocturnal creatures, but this is neither true nor untrue. A mouse’s sleep patterns depend entirely on its environment; mice opt to sleep when danger is least likely to be present and remain active during heightened periods of potential danger. For mice in the wild, this often means they will be most active during the very early hours of the morning when predators are either asleep or have limited visibility due to the lack of light. Mice residing inside someone’s home perceive the homeowners as a threat (ironic, we know) and therefore, will sleep or hide during the day when we are up and about. This is one of the reasons that homeowners will report increased mouse activity - sightings or sounds - as it approaches our “bedtime.”
In addition, mice also have very weak eyesight and are sensitive to bright lights. This could also explain why we rarely witness mice in our homes during the daylight hours when the sun is pouring through windows, or lights are flicked on. Mice prefer darkness as they rely on their sense of touch and smell to navigate efficiently around our homes.
Mice are excellent climbers both indoors and outdoors.
Where Do Mice Hide?
Mice will frequently stick very close to their nests during their inactive hours, making themselves scarcely seen or heard. A mouse’s territory is small in general; they rarely travel more than 10-30 feet from their nests for food or drink, so if you happen to witness one, their nest is likely very close by. During a mouse’s inactive hours, they remain cozied up in their nests, sleeping or otherwise resting. Did you know mice sleep up 14 hours a day? It’s no wonder there are often long stretches of time between hearing or seeing a mouse in your home. Almost long enough for you to wistfully imagine they have left your house once and for all… (unlikely, without the proper pest control solutions.)
Mice rarely travel more than 10-30 feet from their nest for food.
How Do I Get Rid of Mice Fast?
There are a multitude of products on the market that claim to get rid of mice quickly. These products can have varying degrees of effectiveness and rarely offer a long-term solution to mouse problems. Some of these solutions include:
- Bait traps
- Live traps
- Ultrasonic deterrent devices
- Spray application methods
In general, we advise against DIY methods of mice removal for a variety of reasons. DIY methods can often be ineffective or only temporarily effective, potentially dangerous (especially to children and pets!), and often expensive in the event that removal requires several attempts.
For reliable mouse removal, we recommend contacting a reputable pest control company such as EcoShield at the first sign of a mouse in your home. EcoShield’s proven, and guaranteed 3-step process addresses mice infestations holistically and provides protection for not only the current problem but future problems, as well.
EcoShield's exclusion services are an effective solution by removing and treating existing infestations and by also sealing and repairing entry points to prevent mice from continuing to enter your home.
If you are experiencing problems with mice in your home, give EcoShield a call today or fill out the form at the bottom of this page. Our experts are ready to help remove mice and ensure your home stays pest-free for the ultimate health and safety of you and your loved ones.