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How to Deal with Mice Infestation in Your House: Health Dangers and Solutions

Written by John Wells

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The autumn and winter months are a prime time for mice to seek shelter in your home and away from the elements. Mice infestation is often an undetected problem, as one or two mice move in silently and breed, resulting in a whole family nesting in your attic, basement, or between the walls. Mice carry bacteria, disease, and viruses that can make your family sick, in addition to causing property damage and taking over your home.

Dealing with a mice infestation in your home requires you to understand mouse behavior, find their entry point into your home, seal up the entry points, trap the mice, clean their mess, and repair any damage their stay resulted in. If you have one or two mice in your home you may be able to handle the process on your own, but if you feel you have a full mice infestation a professional exterminator, cleaning crew, and repair service may be necessary.

Mouse habitation

In order to deal with a mice infestation in your house, you first have to understand how they got in and why they chose your house as a suitable nesting and breeding location. Mice can enter your home through an opening as small as a quarter which means they can find a way inside your home fairly easily if you aren’t careful. Once a mouse or two enters they will nest in almost anything and will find a warm spot in a place that’s fairly quiet. The most popular nesting locations in a home are the garage, kitchen, attic, and basement.

After they’ve established a residence it won’t be long before they’re breeding and taking over your home. Dealing with a single mouse has a fairly straightforward solution but once two or more start to breed it can be difficult to get rid of them before they infest the whole house. Mice may start in one location of the home, like the attic, and soon after breeding you’ll have mice in the walls and ceiling chewing up your insulation, wiring, and furniture.

Evidence of infestation

Mice are small which means you may not realize you have a mouse problem until you start seeing things like droppings or the mouse itself. The most common signs of mouse activity in your home are:

  • Mouse droppings: these can be found on the floor or in the corner of your garage or attic.
  • Chewed packaging: boxes or bags may be chewed in the pantry or in the back of cabinets. Dog food is also a prime feeding ground for mice.
  • Scurrying in the walls or ceiling: mice will run between the walls and you may hear them at night.
  • Mouse sighting: the most obvious sign of a mouse in your house is seeing the mouse, usually along the walls or dark corners of the house.

If you experience one or more of these signs of mouse activity you definitely have at least one mouse in your house. Chances are where there’s one there’s more and it’s important to catch the mouse and clean up your space before more move in. Mice carry bacteria and illnesses which can make you and your family sick. Once you are aware of their presence, take steps to remove the rodents and restore your home to a clean state.

Health Risks

Check out this informative video on the topic of mice infestation dangers:

There are several important reasons to exterminate the mice as soon as you are aware of them in your home. Aside from the damage and destruction mice can do to your home, mice also carry over thirty diseases, some of which can affect humans. Mouse borne illness is directly transmitted through contact with contaminated urine, feces, or saliva which can happen when they eat your food, run in your home, and come into contact with your belongings. If you have one mouse and get rid of it, cleaning up their urine and droppings without proper protection is enough to make you ill.

The most common mouse borne illnesses that infect humans are:

Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM): a virus that is contracted by breathing in dust that was contaminated by urine or feces or through direct contact with urine or feces. Treatment requires hospitalization. Symptoms include:

  • Initial phase: fever, lack of appetite, headache, nausea, vomiting,
  • Second phase: meningitis, encephalitis, headache, stiff neck, fever.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS): a respiratory disease due to a Hantavirus infection. It is contracted by contact with an infected mouse or the droppings of the mouse. Treatment may require hospitalization. Symptoms include:

  • Initial phase: Fever, headache, dizziness, chills, nausea, vomiting,
  • Second phase: Muscle aches of large muscle groups (thighs, hips, back).

Leptospirosis: a bacteria that is contracted by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with urine from infected mice. Treatment requires a course of antibiotics. Symptoms include:

  • Initial phase: High fever, chills, headache, vomiting,
  • Second phase: Muscle aches, jaundice, rash.

Extermination

Removing the mice from your home can be done one of two ways, either you do it yourself or you hire an exterminator to not only remove the mice but also clean up the mess they leave behind. If you caught the infestation early you may be able to remove the mice yourself but you’ll need to take extra precautions to clean their mess in order to avoid illness. If you feel you have multiple mice or a full-on infestation it may be best to hire a professional to handle the mice, clean the area, and seal your house to avoid any future issues.

Self removal

To remove the mice yourself it’s pretty straightforward. You’ll need traps suitable for the infestation, mouse traps, not rat traps. The CDC recommends using standard mouse traps over glue traps or humane traps because these alternatives will scare the mouse which will lead to more urine or feces in the area and that can spread any illness the mouse is carrying. Bait the traps with a little peanut butter and place a series of traps in any area where you’ve seen activity. If you have mice in the basement, attic, or garage you may be able to spread the traps throughout the area.

In places you mainly reside, like the kitchen and living room, keep traps perpendicular the wall to avoid knocking them. Traps can also be placed in the back of kitchen cabinets or in the pantry if you’ve seen activity there. Once you catch the mouse immediately dispose of the mouse and the trap, and clean the area thoroughly. It’s also important to survey the area and repair any damage the mice may have caused to avoid potential hazards like fire or drafts.

Professional exterminator

When there are multiple mice or a full infestation the best option is to hire a professional exterminator. Hiring someone who is knowledgeable in mice removal will save you a lot of time and the hassle of handling everything that it requires. You’ll want to do some research before you hire a professional to make sure that they not only handle the trapping and mouse removal but that they will also survey the home to find the point of entry and will clean up the mess the mice have made.

pest control

Before you hire someone, make sure you discuss the following points with the extermination service:

  • How do you remove the mice? It’s important to know if they use traps or bait and what their process and timeline is.
  • Do you repair the entry points? Not every exterminator will do the patching or sealing but it’s important to know how the mice got in and what you will need to do to repair the entry as well as the damage the mice created.
  • Do you sanitize the area afterward? It’s important that not only the mice are removed but also their droppings and any materials they may have infected. If the exterminator doesn’t remove these items or provide this service it is a good idea to hire a service that does.
  • Are there any follow-up appointments or after inspections? The mice didn’t all move in over one day, so you should make sure there’s some follow up to confirm that the mice have been removed and the problem has been resolved.

The last step of the removal process is very similar to the prevention steps anyone can take to avoid a mouse infestation in the first place. It’s important to check the perimeter of the home both inside and out to seal up any entry points and implement cleanliness and security practices to avoid attracting mice to the warmth of your home.

Prevention

No matter how many mice you had in your house, one or a whole family, it’s important to inspect your home from top to bottom, inside and out, to seal up any potential entry points and prevent mice from entering. Mice can get into your home through any small spaces and proper sealing practices will keep them out as well as keep your home well insulated and protected.

Outdoors

Starting outside you should check the entire exterior beginning around the foundation. Anywhere a pipe or wire enters the home is a possible entry point as is any window or door. If you do find gaps or holes they can be filled with a simple sealant, steel wool, or mesh that is sealed into place. The roof should also be checked for gaps or holes and repaired accordingly.
To avoid mice in the future, keep the lawn short and manicured as well as any shrubs, bushes, and plants. Under a deck or patio space is another perfect nesting location and this area should be sealed properly to avoid mice nesting underneath. Any equipment or vehicles that are in the lawn for an extended amount of time should be moved or maintained to avoid becoming a nest, this includes lawn and patio furniture.

Indoors

Inside you should check any entry point including pipes, wires, and ductwork as these could easily let a mouse in. The chimney area and laundry room often have access to the outdoors and can be overlooked. The attic and basement are prime locations because they are used less frequently and have contact with the outdoors. The garage is an easy entry point as well because the door may be open for an extended period of time which makes it easy for mice to enter. The kitchen is another room to examine top to bottom due to the abundance of food storage and pet bowls. The cabinets may have holes in the back which are hidden by pantry items and could be overlooked.

Useful practices

To avoid mice in the home here are a few easy prevention options to implement into your daily routines and practices:

  • Keep the garage doors closed as often as possible.
  • Inspect any garage storage for potential mice damage or residence.
  • Keep pantry items closed and sealed. This may require storage in mouse-proof containers, especially pet food and bagged snacks.
  • Maintain the lawn and keep equipment stored indoors when not in use.
  • Clean trash bins and waste areas frequently to avoid food scraps and smells.
  • Maintain the home and make any repairs as soon as you’re aware of them.
  • Conduct a perimeter check before the cold weather approaches to avoid mice nesting in the warmth of your home or garage.
  • Have supplies on hand for trapping, removing, and cleaning up after the mouse. This will help you take care of the mouse quickly to avoid breeding or long term nesting.

After dealing with the ordeal a mice infestation can become you’ll see how taking preventative measures consistently can save a lot of time, hassle, and money in the long run. Depending on the climate you live in, avoiding a mouse in the house from time to time may be difficult but taking preventative measures like lawn maintenance and home inspection will go a long way. If you do have a mouse again, having supplies on hand and taking the proper steps to trap and clean up will keep your family safe and your home protected from an infestation.

About the author

John Wells

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