What To Know About Mice

Within the United States, there are usually four kinds of mice found in and around homes. The common species that make up this list of unwanted house guests are: the house mouse, deer mouse, western harvest mouse and the white-footed mouse.

Mice may look like cute, adorable creatures, but the reality is they can be full of disease, do damage to your home and generally do not make good roommates. Worldwide, rats and mice spread over 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. [5] Mice live and thrive under a variety of conditions in and around homes and farms. They consume food meant for humans or pets and contaminate food-preparation surfaces with their feces, which can cause food poisoning. In addition, their constant gnawing causes damage to structures and property.[3] It is best to take care of your rodent issue as soon as possible as one female is able to produce 5-10 litters per year.[1]

Common Mice in the United States

How To Eliminate Mice Infestations

When food, water, and shelter are available, mice populations can increase quickly. Droppings, fresh gnawing and tracks indicate areas where mice are active. Mouse nests, made from fine shredded paper or other fibrous material, are often found in sheltered locations. When a mouse infestation already exists, some form of population reduction is almost always necessary.

Trapping is an effective method for controlling mice in and around homes, garages, and other structures. Because snap traps can be used over and over, trapping is less costly than poison baits. Traps can be set and left indefinitely in areas such as attics where mice have been a problem in the past. The simple, wooden mouse-size snap trap is the least expensive option, but some people prefer the newer plastic, single-kill mouse traps, because they are easier to set and to clean.[2]

A rodent like a rat or mouse will leave several visual cues that they have made your home, apartment or business its new home. One of the first visible signs of a rodent infestation is droppings. Droppings are dark pellets often deposited where rodents are traveling and feeding. These droppings must be removed and the surface quickly disinfected due to the bacteria and disease they can spread. They are also another way to determine if you have a rat or mouse. Mice will leave small rice-sized droppings where as rats leave larger ones.
[1] Epidemiology Resource Center. “Rats and Mice.” Epidemiology Resource Center, 12 Apr. 2021, www.in.gov/health/erc/infectious-disease-epidemiology/rats-and-rodents/
[2] Salmon, T. P., D. A. Whisson, and R. E. Marsh. 2006. Wildlife Pest Control around Gardens and Homes, 2nd ed. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Publ. 21385.
[3] “Illinois Department of Public Health: Prevention & Control.” House Mouse Prevention and Control, www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/pchousemouse.htm
[4] Saunders, D. A. 1988. Adirondack Mammals. State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry. 216pp
[5] “Rodents.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 July 2010, www.cdc.gov/rodents/

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