How to Get Rid of Mice in Your Home

By: Kealia Reynolds How to
Souris grise (Mus musculus)

When temperatures drop, small rodents begin to enter homes to find food, water, and shelter from the cold. Mice often carry disease and can cause extreme damage to your home, so it’s imperative that if you see even a single mouse in your home, you address the problem immediately.

While there are many measures that you can take to eradicate mice and prevent them from coming back, you may need to call in a professional depending on the scope of the issue—for example, if you’re dealing with a colony of mice and various entry points.

How to identify a mouse infestation

If you spot a mouse in your house, it’s likely not the only one. While mice are nocturnal, you may catch sight of them scurrying across your floor during the day. Here are some signs you have a mouse problem:

  • If you spot black, rice-shaped pellets around your home, these are most likely mouse droppings. Commonly found along baseboards or walls, droppings indicate that mice are present in the home.
  • You may also spot holes, scratch marks, or gnawed wood along interior and exterior walls.
  • Beyond these visible markers, you may also hear scratching, scuttling, or squeaking noises, particularly at night when all is supposed to be dark and quiet.  

Mice are small rodents—just 12–20 cm in length, including the tail—and are white, brown, or gray. The easiest way to differentiate between a mouse and a rat, other than size, is their tail. Rats have tails that are long, thick, hairless, and scaly, whereas mice have tails that are thin and hairy. It’s important to know whether you’re dealing with mice or rats because the methods for getting rid of these rodents are different.

How do mice get into a home?

Mice can enter your home through even the tiniest openings, so a thorough look at your home may be required to spot the entry point.

Here are three ways to identify how mice are getting into your home.

  1. Survey your foundation and exterior walls for holes and cracks—Mice can fit through holes as small as a dime. If you find a hole or a crack that connects indoors to outdoors, you’ve likely found their source of entry. To fix, fill in these holes or cracks with cement or caulk. Never use wood to patch these holes—mice will eat right through it.
  2. Look for nesting material—Mice are mammals, and like to stay warm and well fed. They tend to nest near gas-powered appliances and around heaters, attics, or kitchen pantries. Nests will almost certainly be within 20 feet of a food source, as mice eat 15–20 times per day. Check these areas for shredded paper, plant material, and fiberglass insulation—all common materials used in mouse nests. You’ll likely see droppings near or in a nest, and the nests will be circular. Special attention should be paid attention to the location of nests during the extermination process.
  3. Notice smells coming from hidden areas—Unusual, ammonia-like odors can indicate urine trails that mice leave to mark their territory. Follow these trails to pinpoint the mouse nest or entry point.
Catch rat trap box

Traps Mouse bait station

How to get rid of mice

Even if you’re contending with a single mouse, it’s smart to get rid of it as soon as you can. One female mouse can give birth to a dozen babies per litter and birth a litter every 20 days. Follow these methods to quickly get rid of an infestation.

Natural methods for getting rid of mice

For homes with pets or small children, natural methods may be preferred as a safer option to get rid of mice. Some methods include:

Chemical methods for getting rid of mice

Traditional chemical methods will be effective in eliminating mice in your home, though can be dangerous to humans.

Always read directions when using chemical methods and be aware of risks to children and pets.

How to prevent future mice infestations

Infestations typically begin in the fall, when temperatures begin to drop and mice are seeking warmth. Begin precautionary measures as summer ends and maintain these tactics throughout the fall and winter.

To keep your home mouse-free for good, keep in mind these best practices.

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