You’ve heard a scurrying noise for some time and until now you’ve wondered if it’s possible you’re going round the bend. Good news for your sanity, then! We bet if you’ve stumbled upon this website it’s because it’s finally come to light that your housemates or family have heard the exact same noise – and guess what?! It’s now time to do something!
It sounds to us like you’ve got mice – but don’t panic; we’ve compiled this very guide to ensure you can tackle the pesky little critters easily and effectively.
Often infested with fleas, ticks and/or mites, mice may be a concern to people who have small children or pets – in particular dogs. Dogs’ immune systems aren’t well-equipped to handle the diseases mice might carry, so it’s even more important to deal with an infestation quickly if you have a pet pooch or two.
We’ll start with the very basics: what are house mice, how do they get there and more importantly, how do you keep them away once you’ve got rid of them? Read on…
They might not be quite the fluffy, friendly animals you so often see in Disney films, but truth be told, mice really aren’t that bad to look at.
Covered in short hair that is either light brown or grey to black in colour, house mice have lighter bellies than wild ones. Their ears and tails will also have hair, although it won’t be as long as it is on their bodies.
Weighing from 12 to 30 grams, an adult mouse can grow up to 20cm-long from the nose to the tip of the tail – so that’s some size really and you’re unlikely to mistake it for anything else if you spot one (or two – yikes!) in the corner of your kitchen!
It might be that you don’t spot mice themselves but rather their droppings – nice! These are generally rod-shaped and pointed on both ends; like mice, they’re unlikely to be confused for anything else, so once you think you’ve identified them it’s time to act fast.
While the house mouse generally makes its home in the fields of farms or grassy, wooded areas, they do like readily-available food. What this means for you, then – or rather your small children or teenage kids – is that you really shouldn’t be leaving half-eaten food on display in your garden, or even leaving the remnants of packaging out or dangling out of bins.
The fact is, mice are inquisitive by nature and it won’t be long before they’re exploring that ‘new territory’, even if it is your garden, shed – or your kitchen. If you’re really looking to invite mice into your home, you’ll want to leave seeds and nuts out – they love those!
As the cooler months draw in – particularly during late autumn and early to late winter – house mice will be searching for a warmer place to live. Unlike other animals, they don’t hibernate for the winter so they’ll be attracted to the smell of food or the warmth of a shed, garage or your home.
Of course, they’re not likely to come strolling through the front door carrying a suitcase (well, you never know!) but will instead use an opening like a utility line, pipe or gaps beneath doors to get inside. You name it, a mouse will find a way to utilise it to get into your home – so it really is important that you don’t encourage them to hang around in the first place.
Once you’ve got mice in your home, you’ll certainly know about it; the house mouse is known for its ability to reproduce – and fast – so do try to nip your pest problem in the bud as soon as the very first alarm bells sound.
Capable of producing up to eight (yes, eight!) litters per year, a female mouse will drop an average of six pups per litter. So, as you can imagine, your house will fill up rather quickly – and unless you’ve got a spare room and access to a cheese farm, you’re going to struggle to look after these little pests.
Joking aside, house mice are a big problem. Though it was some time ago now, back in 2007 in London, the risk of gaining a few mousey visitors in your home rose by a pretty hefty 23 per cent – (cheese) crumbs!
Back to the reproduction of those cheeky visitors, then. After a three-week pregnancy, mouse pups enter the world naked, blind and dependant on their mother.
Weaned from their mother after just 21 days, they’ll start exploring their surroundings and will reach maturity at around 35 days of age. And guess what? Yep, you know what’s next! Mating starts, which could – and often does – lead to another litter of pups. And so it continues…
You’re not going mad! If you’ve heard little feet scurrying around (and they’re not those of your own kids or a relative) you could have something even smaller living with you. Or residing in and amongst the walls or pipes of your home. Great!
So, how do you determine if you have a house mouse infestation?
You’ve Seen a Mouse! – Well, this has got to be the most obvious way to discover if you’ve got an infestation hasn’t it? If, however, you’re certain you’ve see a mouse while bleary-eyed in the middle of the night, don’t take your own sleepy vision as Gospel. Instead, investigate further and rope in your partner to keep an eye out too. You just never know whether what you’ve seen is, in fact, a hazy post-sleep ‘hallucination’.
More commonly active in the evening, you might see a house mouse in your home during the day. They’ll be spotted scurrying close to walls – or even, running from a normally quiet and undisturbed hiding place. Of course, that’s just what you need isn’t it?!
Droppings – If you’ve got mice, you’ve probably spotted the droppings already. Maybe you were unsure what they were, or you could have even overlooked them entirely. Commonly found anywhere the animals have either visited or travelled, these small pellets are around 3 to 6mm in length. As we explained earlier, they’ll be rod-shaped with pointed ends too. Nice.
Footprints – What’s worse than discovering a mouse on your kitchen floor? Discovering one has scurried along your kitchen top! Again, this is yet another sure-fire way to determine if you have mice. As mice explore their territories, they’ll leave behind footprints or tracks on surfaces. You’ll know a mouse track or set of footprints by the distinctive pattern of a four-toed front foot and a five-toed back footprint.
Chewing or Gnawing – Actually, there’s something worse than discovering a mouse has scurried across your kitchen top – and it’s this: realising a mouse has chewed your favourite shirt. They’re pretty much known for their ability to chew on everything from clothes to other objects. In this instance you’ll notice wood shavings on the floor and teeth and gnaw marks on the object in question.
Tunnels/Burrows – Building nests in material that provides a dark and protective environment – like insulation – a mouse will make an opening or tunnel that will be free of dust but possibly brimming with droppings. Are you gipping yet?!
Unusual Noises – Heard a noise and know it’s not you or someone else in the house? Time to get your detective’s hat on and take a look around! You’ll hear anything from scurrying across the ceiling to squeaking, gnawing and scratching if you’ve got mice. Oh, it’s all good fun!
Odour – Rodents like mice tend to mark out an area in a bid to attract females and/or warn off other males. You should be able to sniff out house mouse urine; it has a distinct odour and may become more noticeable after you’ve had an infestation for some weeks or months.
First things first – and particularly after you’ve dealt with an existing infestation – you need to prevent any more mice from entering the home.
All cracks, holes, gaps and crevices larger than a pen top should be sealed with cement. It Is not recommended that you fill these holes with wood (mice will only chew through it!); instead, only cement or a mixing compound will do.
It’s vital you keep your home clean at all times, too. A dirty, untidy or unclean home will definitely have an effect on pest infestations so make sure you do the following:
- Wash and dry your dishes and other crockery immediately after use
- Store uneaten or unused food in glass or metal containers with airtight lids
- Clear away any crumbs or morsels of food from your kitchen surfaces and floors
Once you’ve taken care of every point on the list above, it really is time to get the professionals in! This is particularly important if you’ve discovered that it hasn’t stopped mice from re-entering the home.
There’s something quite unsettling about knowing there are mice living in your home, yet you can’t see them. They often live in hidden areas in the home, as they’re more than capable of fitting through small openings in floors and walls.
The bad news is they rarely leave their nests during daylight hours and will instead roam around at night. They’ll emerge looking for food in the early hours and you can catch them in any number of ways.
The best thing to do is try to lure them out with food bait and traps. We don’t, however, suggest you kill the rodents – it’s always worth trying to tempt them out of their hiding places in as humane way as possible. You might not like the look of mice – or like them living in your home – but that doesn’t mean you should kill them.
Traps must always be placed around the home properly, as well as along the areas frequented by the mouse. If in doubt, seek the advice of a professional pest control company who will know how to successfully – and safely – handle mice.
Try some of the methods laid out below and see how you get on; it’s a good idea to at least give the easier options a go before resorting to doing anything too drastic.
Mouse repellant sprays will also quickly – and easily – help you take care of the issue. Head to your local pet store or garden centre and seek the advice of the staff before trying substances that could be harmful to more than just the mice.
Take care around small children and pets; rodent killers could well be as harmful as the rodents themselves, so ensure that you proceed with caution at all times.
If you’re someone who prefers tackling things – from the common cold to the common house infestation – with a natural remedy or two, you’ll definitely want to read on.
All the remedies we suggest here are completely safe for use in the home and will help tackle the problem head-on.
We’ve already suggested you block up holes in interior and exterior walls, so that’s one ticked off your list already. So what else can you do?
Move Your Bins – Are your exterior bins close to the front door of your home? Mice will smell any unused or eaten food a mile away, congregating by your bins in the hope of nabbing a bite or two before taking off again. Move your bins as far away from the front door of your home as you can get away with. Hint: not in your neighbour’s garden, though!
Try Peppermint Oil – The good thing about peppermint oil is it’s a completely natural deterrent for house mice. The smell is simply too much for rodents’ nostrils to bear – and they literally won’t go anywhere near it.
Why not mask the scent of tiny crumbs of food you may have overlooked while cleaning by simply wiping down your surfaces using a natural cleaning solution you have created using peppermint oil?
Please do be cautious when using this on certain surfaces, though; the oil may well cause staining on wood or other surfaces, for instance. Head to your nearest natural health food shop to pick up some peppermint oil and always get some advice from the shop owner or manager.
Another way of using peppermint oil is simply by placing a drop or two on cotton wool balls and dotting them around the kitchen floor, in any visible cracks and elsewhere. Try doorways, heat vents or anywhere else mice will likely use to enter the house.
Alternatively, you could grow peppermint plants close to doorways. Instead, use it in your cooking wherever possible as it’ll serve as a deterrent whenever and wherever it’s used.
Got a Cat? Cat urine in cat litter will ensure rats clear off quickly; leave it lying around for as long as you can stand it and see if it does the trick.
You’ve tried the natural remedies and got your cat on the case but nothing’s worked so far. So how about giving a humane trap a go? There are a few you can try before you admit defeat and call in the professionals and here they are.
Throw a Towel Over the Mouse – Chuck a small towel over a mouse and you’ll notice it may stay under there for a short time. Now, put an inverted waste paper basket over the towel and tuck the exposed bits of towel under the bin, ensuring it is in contact with the ground. Now, simply slide a large piece of cardboard under the basket and towel, carefully turn it the right way or up and walk outside to release the mouse as far away from your home as you can.
Use a Glass Bowl and a Coin – Grab a piece of chocolate and simply invert a large glass bowl with the sugary confectionery stuck up inside it, on a tray. Next, simply balance the bowl at an angle with a 50 pence or other large coin on the edge, edge to edge. Place the bowl where you know the mouse is about and leave it. You’ll find that the mouse will enter the bowl, reaching up for the chocolate and upsetting the balance. The bowl will fall and trap the mouse underneath, onto the tray. Again, simply remove the mouse and place it well away from your home.
Put Out Sticky Traps – Sticky traps may work for you, so it’s worth giving them a go in the first instance. Once you’ve caught the rodent, simply remove it from the sticky trap with a paintbrush and a little cooking oil. Keep the mouse long enough for it to rid the fur of its oil and then provide a light or heated source to keep him warm while it gets back to himself. Now, simply release the mouse into a nearby field or grassy area.
Try an Organic Solution – A mixture of organic solutions might do the job of deterring mice – and there’s a whole host of them available. Do your research and you’ll be able to find organic solutions to cover large areas.
Time for your Cat to Get in on the Act Again – Now this is less humane than some of the other ‘traps’ but if all else fails why not let the cat do what comes naturally to he or she? An outdoor/indoor cat is used to hunting for their own food and may track down a mouse – providing there’s only one or two to take care of – with ease.
If you’ve exhausted all the natural options – and we doubt you will as there are a lot of them – it’s time to turn to the shop-bought solutions.
In this instance, head to the right aisle in the hardware shop and stock up; pesticides like this don’t tend to cost too much and are often readily available.
PestBye Advanced Whole House Rat and Mouse Repeller – We say shop-bought but this one’s actually available online. For less than £25 via Amazon, this rat and mice repeller combines ultrasonic and electro-magnetic technology and covers up to 2000 square feet. Costing less than 1.5p per day to run, it can also be effective against some crawling insects. It’s win, win!
Rentokill Enclosed Mouse Trap – Look out for this easy-to-set mouse trap, which keeps the mouse enclosed in a box. Safe for use around children and animals, this solution is tamper-resistant and has a lockable design too.
Rentokill Advanced Mouse Trap Twin – Easy to bait and set, this Rentokill advanced mouse trap twin could solve all your problems in an instant.
By now you’re probably an expert in deterring mice – and if you look around our site, any pest for that matter! Just in case, though, we’ve put together some handy ‘quick tips’ to ensure you don’t slip up again
Remember: once you’ve been infested, with mice you’ll find it a struggle to get rid of the little critters without the help of the professionals. When you add to that that female mice can reproduce at a rate of knots you really will be glad you’ve taken on board our advice. Here goes:
- Start by sealing any entryways a mouse might use to gain access to your house. As mentioned previously, you can do this with a mixing compound or cement – but never use wood to fill in the gaps!
- Mice love peanut butter – who knew?! Bait your traps with a liberal slither of it and see what happens
- Smoke from incense sticks is a natural deterrent. That said, you can’t put it in tight spaces like you can with the peppermint oil-soaked cotton balls but it’s still worth using the sticks in every room to see how any mice lurking in the walls or house fare
- Store all unused and uneaten food out of reach and in airtight containers. Similarly, do not leave food on countertops, or if you do be prepared for a little visitor or two to pop up to say hello
- If you’re going down the peppermint oil cotton ball route, be prepared to replace these every five to seven days, depending on how many you keep out
- Always keep a clean home or you’re simply asking for trouble.