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Mice inside your home can cause structural damage and unsanitary conditions. They can also become a source of embarrassment and stress. An infestation will only grow larger without intervention, so it’s important to take pest control measures as soon as possible. Below, we cover the ins and outs of a household mouse problem and offer advice on how to remove these elusive pests.
Signs of a Mice Infestation
- There are several telltale signs of a mouse infestation. Some of the most common visual and auditory clues include the following:
- Mouse droppings: Mouse droppings appear as tiny pellets that measure around one-quarter inch. Mice typically leave trails of droppings where they are most active in the home.
- Pilfered food: Mice often leave clear evidence of activity around their primary food sources. You may come across torn paper and plastic food packaging. Pet food may be pilfered from bowls and deposited elsewhere, and you may notice droppings around dirty dishes.
- Sounds of mice activity: You may hear sounds of activity as a mouse population grows, especially at night. These sounds include scratching and gnawing at the walls, scurrying across the floors, and squeaky vocalizations.
- Unusual odors: As a mouse infestation grows, you will often detect unusual odors. These odors typically come from mouse droppings and urine in high-activity areas.
Mice vs. Rats
It’s important to understand the differences between mice and rats when diagnosing your pest problem. Rats are often more than twice the size of mice, measuring up to 20 inches long. They tend to be less skittish and can even be aggressive when confronted. Rats leave much larger droppings and are noisier during times of heightened activity. Both mice and rats can cause structural damage to a home, but rats inflict more severe damage in a shorter duration of time.
Risks of a Mice Infestation
A mice infestation poses the following potential risks to your home and your family’s health.
Mice can harbor various diseases that are transmissible to you and your pets through their saliva, feces, and urine. Deer mice can spread the dangerous respiratory virus known as hantavirus. Leptospirosis is another pathogen that mice spread through their urine. Mice often bring fleas into homes that might also be disease carriers.
A mice infestation can potentially turn into a fire hazard. This occurs when mice chew through electrical wiring while building nests or searching for new entry points into the home. They can even find their way into your garage and chew the electrical wiring in your vehicles.
Mice often use small existing holes in a home’s structure as entry points. These entry points can be as small as one-quarter inch in diameter. However, mice can also gnaw on structural materials to expand existing entry points or create new openings. Mice also damage insulation, using tufts of the material for nesting purposes.
Mice Removal Strategies
Depending on the severity of your mouse infestation and your personal preferences, you can try DIY rodent control strategies or bring in a professional exterminator.
DIY Rodent Control
You have many DIY mouse control options available. We’ve listed the most common solutions below. Generally, these products work best for minor infestations.
- Bait stations: Bait stations use rodenticides to attract and kill mice. These poisons work by preventing the mouse’s blood from clotting and are not the most humane pest control solution.
- Live traps: Live traps are the most humane solution for mouse control. These traps typically have spring-action doors that close behind the mice to trap them in an enclosure. The traps must be regularly monitored to prevent mice from dying of stress or dehydration, and you must release the mice several miles away from your home to prevent reentry.
- Snap traps: A snap trap is an inexpensive mouse trap that you can find at most department stores. It has a simple spring-action bar that swings down when the mouse applies pressure to the trap. This mechanism kills the mouse quickly but may require a messy cleanup when it’s time to dispose of the dead mouse.
- Structural reinforcement: An important step in rodent control is sealing areas where you suspect mice are entering your home. This may require patching drywall and using caulk to seal small cracks and gaps in your home’s foundation and walls. For a temporary solution, you can stuff steel wool into existing entry points in your home’s drywall or flooring.
Professional exterminators are the ideal solution for most mice infestations. Trained specialists are knowledgeable about various pest management strategies and typically have years of experience eliminating rodents from residential properties.
Here is what to expect from a professional mouse exterminator:
- Your exterminator will inspect your entire home to determine the severity of the mouse infestation and identify all entry points. Often, these entry points appear in your home’s basement or crawl space.
- You will receive a recommended course of action and an estimate for the proposed pest control services. This may involve a one-time treatment or an annual plan that includes follow-up treatments throughout the year.
- On the scheduled date, the exterminator will perform the agreed-upon services. Often, this includes both extermination and rodent exclusion—the process of sealing known mouse entry points—to prevent mice from reinhabiting the home. The exterminator may also apply repellents around the home.
Professional mice removal is often necessary to rid your home of rodents that can damage your household and disrupt your peace of mind. We recommend Terminix and Orkin, two of the largest and most reputable pest control providers. Terminix is our top pick, providing free inspections for several types of pests and 24/7 customer service. We also like Orkin for its nearly nationwide availability and 120-plus years of experience in the industry.
Mice Removal FAQ
How often do mice reproduce?
Mice can reproduce more than five times per year. Each litter can produce between five and ten mice.
What is the most humane way to get rid of mice?
The most humane way to get rid of mice is to use a live trap and relocate the mice away from your property.
What should you do if you find a dead mouse in your house?
If you find a dead mouse in your house, you should immediately contact a pest control company. The company can send out a specialist to inspect your home and determine if there is an active infestation.
How We Chose the Top Pest Control Companies
Our pest control research process starts with analyzing customer reviews on third-party websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustpilot, and Google Reviews. We then do a deep dive into each company’s website, service plans, and available cost information. We also secret shop the companies we review, reach out to representatives, and request quotes.
From there, we compile the information we’ve gathered and compare each company using our in-depth pest control methodology and review criteria. This process uses a series of factors that are important to our readers, and we score each company depending on how well they perform in each factor. For instance, companies that offer more guarantees for their service earned more points than others, and pest control plans with a larger range of covered pests earned more points than ones with fewer.
After analyzing dozens of residential and commercial pest control businesses through this process, we were able to determine the best pest control companies on the market.