The house mouse – not your picture-perfect Christmas mouse – Cache Valley Daily
“It was the night before Christmas when no creature moved in the house, not even a mouse.” The first line of Charles Moore’s poem gives the impression of slumbering mice waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. In Anne Mortimer’s book “The Christmas Mouse”, she tells of a mouse full of festive energy. This representation is probably the most accurate as mice are busiest and most active at night.
In the past few weeks, many homeowners have reported seeing mouse droppings in closets, basements, grocery stores, bathrooms, bedrooms and garages. Mice can spread disease through urine, feces, saliva, and nesting material. These diseases can be fatal, and having a major infestation in your home increases the risk factor. The most common mice in our areas are the house mouse and the deer mouse.
Mice generally live far from humans, but the onset of cold weather encourages them to seek warmth in homes and buildings.
Mice are nibblers. They feed on a wide variety of foods, but prefer foods high in fat and sugar. Most of the water they need comes from food. They eat, urinate, and defecate constantly and have a tendency to nest near their food.
It might sound a little dramatic to say that a mouse can burn down your house, but it can, and that’s especially true at Christmas with lights and wires. Mice nibble on wires when in walls and attics, or when trying to gain access to places that may block the wires. Once a wire becomes bare, the likelihood that it will start a fire increases. About 25 percent of all “unknown causes” fires in the United States are started by rodents.
Because they are most active at night, mice often roam a household undetected. If you see them during the day, you likely have a mouse infestation. Feces and the musky urine smell from cupboards or drawers are also a sign.
Mice have a very high reproductive rate. A female can produce several litters within a few months. These litters can also start producing mice within 2 months of birth.
The best way to control mice in your home is through prevention. Keep these tips in mind.
- Mice can fit through tiny spaces. Holes and cracks in the foundation and outside walls are entry points, as are doors and areas around windows, chimneys, roof fans, pipes and cables that get into your home. Seal any holes and openings that are larger than a quarter inch. Use heavy materials such as concrete mortar, sheet metal, or heavy fitting cloth. Seal doors, windows and places where cables and pipes penetrate. Check the roof and roof fans for damage or holes and repair if necessary. Keep the gutters clean. Remove wood, leaves, or other debris near your foundation walls.
- Keep dry goods (including cat and dog food) in your home in hard plastic or glass containers with tightly closed lids. This will ensure that your food does not get contaminated. Take out the trash often and don’t leave open foods outside.
- Store food in rodent-safe containers. Make sure to clean up any spilled food and crumbs. A Christmas cookie or piece of fruit cake landed between the sofa cushions can feed a mouse for a week.
If you have a mouse around the house, keep these catching and removing tips in mind.
- Mice can usually be caught with wooden snap traps. Because they have poor eyesight but excellent smell and touch, they tend to move around walls and other objects. Plan to set at least six traps for each mouse seen, and place the traps near walls. Use fresh bait like peanut butter. You might want to bait the traps without setting them for a day or so. When you notice the bait has been caught, set the trap. Once caught, mice should be bagged and disposed of in an outdoor rubbish bin or buried.
- Don’t use rodenticides to control mice at home. Mice that feed on poison bait can die at home. If they start to break down, the resulting odor will cause further problems.
- Due to the risk of disease associated with mice, cleaning up their nests or places where
You have bowel movements and urination is a process that should not be taken lightly. Don’t vacuum or sweep mouse poop as it can release more bacteria into the air and the dust can make you sick. Always wear a mask and latex or vinyl gloves when cleaning mouse-infected areas.
- Spray the area with a commercially available disinfectant or a mixture of bleach and water and let it sit for five minutes before wiping the area with paper towels. When you’re done, put the dirty paper towels in a plastic bag with your outdoor trash.
- Food that has been chewed, such as Christmas cookies or fruit cakes, should be thrown away immediately.
More information is available at wildawareutah.org.