There is often a certain embarrassment in admitting that you have mice in your home, a feeling that you are the only person to have ever had this problem. However, I can assure you that you are definitely not on your own!
Mice are particularly good at getting into buildings. They have soft skeletons and can squeeze through openings the width of a pencil. They are also excellent climbers, able to scale rough, vertical surfaces to a distance of up to two metres. Gaps under doors or in air vents, damaged brickwork, gaping eaves or the holes made in external walls by cables and pipework all offer access.
Once they are in, their agility means that they can as easily build nests in lofts and suspended ceilings as they can behind skirting boards or under floorboards. However, because they like to be within easy reach of food, the most likely place to find them is in the kitchen.
Other than direct sightings, the most obvious sign of mice in your home is the scattering of droppings. These are small, about 5mm in length, and black. Mice also leave behind them a trail of urine, the smell of which is particularly noticeable in confined areas. They gnaw almost constantly to keep their teeth down, so chewed packaging, paper or upholstery is another sign of infestation.
Mice have the same basic needs as any other animal: food, warmth and shelter. Remove the opportunities for them to feed and nest and your house will be a much less attractive prospect.
Here is how:
- Keep food in sealed containers that they will not be able to gnaw through, ensure that your floors and work surfaces are kept clean and free of crumbs, empty your bins as often as possible and clean out cupboards regularly. Try and keep any materials that might be used for nesting tucked away in cupboards that don’t contain food.
- Seal any holes in brickwork with stainless steel wire wool, fix wire mesh to airbricks and vents, fit brush strips to the bottom of doors if you have a gap there and remove any vegetation that might be used for climbing.
- Check woodwork for rot and replace if unsound.
Once you have proofed your house against mice, you need to deal with those already inside. The traditional options are to put down poison or use a trap that will, hopefully, kill the mouse instantly. If uncomfortable with the idea of killing, you may prefer to use live capture mouse traps. If so, you need to release the captured mice several miles away from your property or they will just come straight back. If you are not able to completely clear the infestation, or if the mice come back, then professional help should be sought.
Although perceived as being cute, mice can present a serious health risk to humans when they start coming into houses. They carry bacteria and viruses, as well as parasites, and can transmit pathogens such as Salmonella through their urine and faeces.