How To Keep Mice Out of Your Home This Winter
Fall is here, leaves are falling, and it is starting to get cold outside. Here at Spectrum Pest Control, we refer to this season as mouse season. No need to burn the house down or move the family out. Mice are the most common rodent pest, not only in America but the entire world. If you think you have a mouse problem in your home, here is some more information to get your problem fixed.
Why Are Mice Dangerous?
I know it is scary to think that 30%-60% of the European population was eliminated by the work of some small rodents and the fleas that they carried around with them. This day in age, we don’t really have to worry about the Black Death, but there is a serious illness called Hantavirus that is carried by our gray four-legged friends. Hantavirus is a severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease that can be picked up from virus-carrying mice or their urine and droppings. Hantavirus is a relatively newly discovered virus. Anyone that has contact with an infected rodent is at risk. The virus is mainly contracted when someone breaths it through the air. Unfortunately, there is no cure or medicine for Hantavirus, but most cases caught early have been able to recover.
The only way of prevention for this disease is to make sure you and your surrounding are rodent free. Hantavirus has been under study since 1990, and hopefully, they will be able to find a cure soon. As of 2017, there have been 728 cases of Hantavirus the cover 36 states in America. Almost all of the cases have been in states west of the Mississippi River.
How Do Mice Find Their Way Into My Home?
Having mice in your Pittsburgh home is an extremely common problem. I am an exterminator and I have had an occasional mouse get into my home. Sometimes you will only get one inside and then it’s the end of the problem, but most of the times if there is one there are more.
Mice have a habit of urinating and leaving their droppings around their entrance which is basically a calling card for every other mouse in the area to come into this nice warm space. House mice are a dusty gray color with a cream-colored belly. They are 2 ½ to 3 ¾ inches long with four legs. When mice are around the exterior of your home it is really easy for them to find a crack to gain access.
Some people think that mice can squeeze into small spaces because they have a collapsible skeleton, but that is not true. Mice are used to burrowing and are just naturally capable of fitting into tight spaces. The fur on a mouse takes up a large part of their size, and if you were to shave a mouse you would see how tiny they really are. Mice do not have a collarbone, this allows them to squeeze through very small cracks. If you can fit a #2 pencil into a crack a mouse will be able to get through. The only limit a mouse has is the size of his skull.
It is possible to just have one mouse give you a visit, but you want to make sure there was only one. Mice are able to breed very rapidly, and they have the ability to adapt to different conditions really well. A female mouse can have ½ dozen babies every three weeks, or 35 young per year. That is how a small mouse problem can turn into a major infestation very quickly. The last thing that you want running around your house are tons of mice carrying flea, mites, ticks and lice. You can see how the problem can turn into a health issue.
How to Keep Mice Out of My Home?
One of the most important parts is trying to seal any entry points around the exterior of your home. One thing to remember is to not only look low, they are excellent climbers and can even gain access to you home by climbing across a tree branch that is overhanging your roof line. Another thing that you might notice is an oily mark around an entryway that is well used. Mice have natural oil on the fur, and if there are quite a few mice going in and out of the same crack, you will see a mark left on the entryway.
Here are the Best Places to Check –
1. Anywhere that a utility line comes into the home. This will include electric lines, telephone, water, cable, and AC lines. Over time these entry points get brittle and wear out. What we recommend sealing those areas with is by putting a little steel wool into the crack and using mortar to seal around the crack.
2. Any entry door seals including garage doors. Over time the seals at the bottom of doors wear out and will need to be replaced. I have been to many customers and looked at the garage door seals and on both sides, they were curled up from age. This can be a big entry point for mice. Even on front and back door, if the seal is a little worn it will leave just enough of a gap for mice to work their way in.
3. Leaving garage doors open during the day can be a calling card for mice. I know a lot of people do not think about this, but even if your children are outside playing it is not a good idea to leave your garage door wide open. This does not apply just to mice. I have been to a few customers that had raccoons and other wildlife wonders in. Trust me, you do not want to walk into your garage and find a raccoon tearing through your garbage can.
4. Look for overhanging tree branches that would give a pathway to your roof. Mice are a very smart creature and will have no problem climbing up a tree and jumping down onto your roof to gain access into the attic. This is a simple fix, just make sure that all tree branches are cut back to take away their runway. Mice are not the only thing that will follow tree branches. I have seen cases where Carpenter Ants even found their way through a tree branch overhanging the house.
5. Always do a visual inspection or your eave areas. I have been to many customers homes that had exposed areas around the eave area that left access points into the home.
6. Foundation walls are another great entry point. Sometimes the mortar joints crack out and leave a nice gap for mice to get into. This is especially common for people that own homes with sandstone foundations.
Spectrum Pest Control offers an annual rodent control program that will defend against all the rodent activity on the outside. If at any time you would happen to experience problems just give us a call free of charge.
DIY Mouse Control
If you are looking for some do-it-yourself tips for rodent removal, here are our recommendations:
- Traditional snap traps. I think that these work the best. I know that you can go into the store and find a hundred different products on the market, but these are simple, and they work.
- Always place the snap traps up against a wall. When mice come into your house they will follow a wall because they feel more secure. I’m not saying they will never go into a center of a room, but they will always go back to the wall. When baiting the snap traps, I always use peanut butter because it seems to work the best. You can try a piece of cheese but if you do not catch anything with that, try old trusty peanut butter.
- Avoid Decon or any other inside poisons. I do not recommend putting any poison on the inside. When mice get into the poison on the inside they have a tendency to die on the inside. The last thing that you want is a mouse getting into the wall void and dying. If this happens there is not a lot that you can do about it. You will just have to put up with the foul odor for a few weeks. The chance of being able to find right where the mouse died inside of the wall void is slim to none.
- Keep your lawn mowed short – especially right up by your home. When you have tall grass or weeds right on the house, it creates the perfect safe environment that mice like to travel. Talk to your neighbors. This is possibly a neighborhood problem. I know that no one really wants to speak with their neighbor about a rodent problem, but they might be experiencing the same problem. I have been to quite a few customers that even found out that there was an abandoned house across the street that made a perfect breeding ground for rodents. Once the population gets high enough they start to spread out and your home is the next great thing.
- Try glue boards if you are not comfortable with using traditional snap traps. Glue board will work, I just don’t think they work as well as snap traps. When putting the glue boards out place a little bit of peanut butter in the center of the board. As with anything you place inside of your home make sure everything is out of reach from children and pets. I do not want to see a child or pet get stuck in a glue board or snapped by a snap trap.
- Make sure that the interior and exterior of your home is clean. I have been to countless customers home that had piles of garbage around the exterior of the home. If you are giving mice something to feed off of, they are never going to leave.
If you have tried all of these methods and it still did not take care of the problem, it is time to call a professional. Sometimes if it is an isolated incident, a homeowner might be able to solve it. Sometimes it is just to big of a problem for the DIY to handle on their own. Spectrum Pest Control has been helping customers in the Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania area for over 25 years. Our team of technicians are the best in the industry. We will walk you through the process from start to finish.
Even with the pros, it is going to take some time to get the problem under control. I always explain to customers that it will take around two weeks for our process to work. I wish I could tell them that it was going to solve the problem overnight, but that is just not how it works. If for any reason after the two week period you still notice and problems, just give us a call free of charge.