Rodents’ biology and habits can make them challenging to control, and they present a serious menace to your home. If you’re in need of rodent control services, here’s what you should know about these pests:
Mice cause severe economic, social and environmental damage during plagues – damaging crops, stored products and equipment. The common house mouse is not native to Australia. Mice can be found over the whole continent and are commonly found in urban and agricultural areas. Mice have traditionally been controlled using trapping and chemical poisoning.
Mouse plagues are common in grain growing regions of Australia and on average take place every three years, causing massive losses to farm productivity. In agricultural regions, mice often live along fencelines, which typically provide a good supply of grass seeds, vegetation for nesting sites and are within close proximity to crops.
Mice eat a wide variety of food including fruit, vegetables, seeds, grasses and insects. Mice have an insatiable desire to gnaw on any hard surface which includes wood, plaster and plastic. Commonly mice are known to chew through electrical cables and wiring.
They invade your home seeking food, water and warmth
Each mouse can contaminate much more food than it eats.
Treating the house yourself
- Do not leave out pets’ food or food scraps in pet bowls.
- Clean up any food spills promptly.
- Make sure there are no sources of water such as a dripping taps
- Repair any holes, cracks or gaps in the walls, skirting boards and inside cupboards.
- Use appropriate insecticide and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use physical traps such as quick snapping traps that trigger once touched, rodent bait stations with bait poison locked inside away from kids, and other animals and also more humane ways would
- be mouse/rat sticky boards where you can catch the rodent alive then dispose or release it elsewhere away from the home.
Lets look at the more common Mice:
Round and slender, ranging from 7 to 10 cm long in body length with a pointed nose and large, black beady eyes. Ears are large with little fur covering them. Body is bicolored with a light brownish-reddish top and white underbelly and feet. Tail is short, distinctly bicolored (dark on top and light on bottom), and covered with short, fine hairs and can be 5 to 13 cm in length.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Nests within hollow logs, tree holes, under piles of stones or logs. Most commonly associated with prairies or other rural, bushy or wooded areas. Avoids humans if indoors, preferring attics, basements or crawl spaces.
In winter, deer mice enter domestic spaces in search of food and warmth. Their nests are constructed of fur, weeds, seed and paper. Although they become sluggish during cold months, deer mice do not hibernate. Deer mice hoard food supplies and actively forage for food near their nesting sites.
Deer mice are primarily herbivorous, but will also consume other things. They prefers seeds, nuts, small fruits and berries, insects.
Reaches sexual maturity in about 7 to 8 weeks. Will produce two to four litters a year, usually during warm months. Typical litters contain three to five individuals, but may have as many as eight. Typically live two to 24 months, but can live as long as eight years in captivity.
Signs of a Deer Mouse Infestation
Sightings of deer mice as well as their nests or gnawed objects are main signs of deer mouse activity.
Deer Mouse Illustration
Deer mice may appear harmless, but they are known carriers of dangerous diseases such as hantavirus. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome can develop from inhaling the virus when deer mouse urine or feces is disturbed. Utmost care should be employed when disposing of deer mouse droppings. A OSHA-approved respirator with a functioning cartridge should be worn. The droppings and urine should be sprayed with disinfectant before sweeping them up.
If suspect you have deer mice, contact a pest management professional.
How to treat:
If left uncontrolled, deer mice can be troublesome and dangerous pests. They are the reservoir species of Hantavirus that causes Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome and is extremely harmful to human health.
Preventive measures may be taken to ensure that an area does not become host to a deer mouse population. The use of rodent-proofing materials on entryways around the exterior ensures that these rodents cannot enter. Regardless of size, all holes should be sealed with these materials; deer mice are able to pass through holes the size of a dime. Keeping weeds and grass mowed and removing clutter from the yard can make the property less attractive to deer mice.
Defensive packaging of food will also help. Food containers made of stainless steel, glass and thick, heavy plastic are better than paper boxes and plastic bags.
Boxes and items stored in garages, attics or crawlspaces are ideal nesting sites for deer mice. These should be examined carefully. Try to keep these areas tidy so that mouse activity will be easier to spot.
Removing deer mice from the infested area oftentimes proves difficult. Most treatment methods involve traps. Professional pest control is necessary to treat an existing deer mouse infestation.
Deer mice can be found in most parts of the United States except the Southeastern states. Deer mice are common in rural and semirural areas. Because they are known carriers of Hantavirus, these mice are potentially extremely dangerous. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) can be spread when mouse droppings, urine or carcasses are disturbed. The HPS becomes airborne and is inhaled by people in the area. Deer mouse droppings may be seen in mouse runways: near cupboards, drawers and other food storage areas. The droppings are smooth with pointed ends and measure 3 t0 6 mm in length and are difficult to distinguish from house mouse droppings, which are not known to be significant carriers of Hantavirus. The removal of these droppings can reduce the spread of mouse-borne diseases.
Utmost care must be taken when handling mouse droppings. The use of approved facemasks with HEPA cartridges and gloves is highly advisable. It is recommended that the droppings, carcass and the adjacent area be sprayed with disinfectant before sweeping. It is best not to vacuum the droppings because this may increase the release of Hantavirus into the air.
House mice are covered in short hair that is light brown or gray to black in color, with lighter bellies. Their ears and tail also bear hair, although much less than their bodies. Adult mice weigh approximately 12 to 30 grams and can grow up to 20 cm from the nose to the tip of the tail. Droppings are rod-shaped and pointed on both ends.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Normally, the house mouse makes its home in farm fields, grassy and wooded areas, building nests in areas that are dark and protected from the elements and close to a readily available food source.
Very inquisitive in nature, the house mouse will spend the day roaming its territory, exploring anything new or out of the ordinary. When available, the house mouse prefers seeds and nuts in its diet, but this opportunistic feeder will eat almost anything available.
When the temperatures outside begin to drop, house mice, since they don’t hibernate, begin searching for a warmer place to live. Often attracted by the smell of food and the warmth of a structure, the house mouse can use any opening, such as utility lines, pipe openings, and gaps beneath doors, to gain entry into a home.
The house mouse is known for its ability to reproduce very quickly. A single female is capable of producing up to eight litters per year with an average of six pups per litter. After a 21-day pregnancy, these house mouse pups are born naked, blind and dependent upon their mother for everything. At about 21 days the young are weaned from their mother and may begin to take short trips away from the nest to explore their surroundings. Most mice reach sexual maturity at about 35 days of age and begin mating when they are six weeks old.
Signs of a House Mouse Infestation
Although more commonly active in the evening, it is possible to see a house mouse roaming in your home during the day. Most often these animals are spotted scurrying along walls or running from a normally undisturbed hiding place.
Where there are mice, there are droppings. These small pellets are commonly found anywhere the animals have visited or traveled. Approximately 3 to 6 mm long, the droppings may be rod shaped with pointed ends.
People may confuse house mouse droppings with those of the American cockroach. Even though the general size and appearance of these droppings are similar, mouse droppings usually have hair embedded in them from where the mice have groomed themselves. Roach droppings also are not pointed and usually have ridges running down the sides.
As mice explore their territories, they often leave behind footprints or tracks on surfaces. The distinct pattern of a four-toed front foot and a five-toed back footprint are a clear sign that a mouse has passed by.
House mice are known for their ability to chew on a wide variety of items. In most cases, shavings and a fresh accumulation of debris is often the first indication of damage. Teeth and gnaw marks can also be found along the edges of frequently traveled routes, on the corners of objects or creating openings into an area.
House mice tend to build nests in material that provides a dark and protective environment, such as insulation and other soft materials. These nests are often characterized by openings or tunnels that are free of dust and cobwebs, but may be littered with droppings.
During the evening hours, especially when it is dark and quiet, these small animals can often be heard gnawing and scratching within the walls, running across the ceiling and possibly squeaking.
House mouse urine plays an important role in communicating with other rodents. Oftentimes, rodents will mark an area to attract females or warn off other males. A distinct odor may become noticeable in an area with a large rodent population or when rodents have been present for a long period of time.
House Mouse Control Tips
To prevent mice from entering the home, all cracks, crevices, holes and gaps larger than a pen cap should be sealed with cement or a mixing compound. It is not advised that wood be used to seal these holes, as mice are capable of chewing through those surfaces.
Cleanliness may also have an effect on pest infestations. Be sure to wash dishes immediately following use. Food should be stored in glass or metal containers with tight lids. Mice acquire most of their water from scavenged food particles and no crumbs or morsels should be left on tabletops or floors.
When a home is already infested, prevention methods prove inefficient. The most effective mouse control methods are those administered by trainedprofessionals.
More Information on the Common House Mouse
House Mice are occasionally mistaken for small native rodents, even rare species. One sure method of identification is to examine the incisor teeth. House Mice have a prominent horizontal ridge on the rear of each incisor, which is not present in native species.
The house mouse is a small mammal named for its propensity to live within human habitats. Next to humans, the common house mouse is one of the most prevalent mammalian species in the world. Native to Asia, these rodents have spread throughout the world. They are most commonly seen living within or near human habitations. They may also be used as laboratory subjects and contribute greatly to scientific studies.
House mice walk, run and stand on all fours. They can stand on the hind legs, as well, and are supported by the tail, which also provides balance while in motion. The house mouse has a sharp sense of hearing and communicates with other house mice through squeaks. Some of these squeaks are audible to humans, while others extend into the ultrasonic range. The common house mouse weighs between 12 to 22 grams and
may grow up 20 cm in length. They are black to light brown or gray in color, with short hair and lighter bellies.
Known to live in a variety of areas near humans. They build nests where a steady food supply is easily accessible. House mice adapt well and will consume almost any food source available to them. They need very little water to survive.
House mice fall prey to owls, hawks, cats, dogs, and snakes. Barn owls are particularly efficient mice predators. A single family of these owls can consume more than a dozen mice in one night.
House mice usually live only one year in the wild due to predators and exposure to unfriendly environments. In captivity, mice may live up to three years. However, humans, through the use of pest control strategies, ranging from traps to exclusion, are also formidable house mouse foes.
How you can find a dead mouse:
House mice may enter indoors for a variety of reasons, including looking for food, water or shelter. When indoors they can die for a host of reasons, from old age to electrocution.
A sign of a dead mouse (hidden or otherwise) is the presence of a strong odor of decay. House mice commonly die behind refrigerators or inside cabinets and walls. Dead mice within walls are not easily accessed. In this case, it is advised that homeowners do their best to mask the scent of the dead mouse, rather than attempt to remove the dead mouse itself.
If significant numbers of blow flies, a large metallic blue or green fly, appear within the home, it may be a sign that a dead mouse is nearby. Following the insects can lead homeowners to dead mice.
When picking up a dead mouse or any mice feces or nest materials, it is advisable to wear protective gloves. Spray disinfectants should be sprayed on the rodent and the areas surrounding the dead rodent before it is moved. Trash bags containing dead rodents, feces and nests should be tied tightly and disposed of immediately.