Mice only make their homes where they have access to a food supply. Unfortunately, because they’re so small, they don’t need much to survive: crumbs left on the floor or surfaces; food that’s dropped behind the oven; bags of grains or pet food – these all provide more than enough for a mouse to live and breed.
The more food mice have access to, the larger their families can grow. A healthy mouse family consists of an adult male, two or three females, four or five youngsters, a sub-dominant male and many babies. Their short gestation period allows a single breeding pair to produce a thousand offspring in one year, provided they have enough food to sustain the swarm.
Unlike their larger cousins, rats, mice don’t need water to survive. They’re so small that they get enough moisture from the food that they eat, which means that we don’t have to inspect the drains when investigating a mouse infestation unless we believe that is where they infiltrated your property.
Mouse infestations can be prevented or even reversed if you entirely deprive them of food. Keeping on top of hygiene, storing food in containers rather than bags and using secure bins are all essential habits to keeping mice out of your home.
Mice breed rapidly and their nasty habit of constantly urinating and crawling in and out of dirty spaces exposes you and your family to the risk of disease as soon as they get comfortable in your home. The moment you spot a mouse or any signs of mice, you need to take action to get rid of them before they start a big, hungry, dirty family.
Also, there’s never just one mouse. Mice are social animals, so don’t think that you can shrug off your infestation if you only see one scurrying around because there’s many more that you’re not seeing. Their eyesight is poor, so they get around using their sense of smell and sensitive whiskers instead, allowing them to happily live inside walls and under floors their entire lives, unseen and only occasionally heard.
The signs to look out for to identify mice are: gnawed skirting boards, kitchen units or other surfaces along their path; holes with greasy marks around them (known as smearing); gnawed food or holes in food containers; gnawing or scuttling in walls or under floors, usually at night and stopping whenever there’s disturbance; and – most commonly – dark droppings roughly the size of a grain of rice, which they leave behind wherever they go.
Remember: if it’s rice, it’s mice!
Mice have thin, flexible skeletons that allow them to squeeze through any gap that their skull can fit through, which doesn’t need to be any bigger than a biro pen – mouse holes aren’t anywhere near the size of the cartoon arches from Tom and Jerry.
This allows mice to infiltrate the home easily and from any angle: holes in pipes; cracks in walls; gaps in windows; gas lines – and if they can’t find an existing hole, their sharp teeth can gnaw through wood, brick, plaster mortar and brick, meaning that even the most well-built home is full of opportunities for mice to sneak their way inside. They can also scale vertical surfaces with ease, allowing them to make their way to the tops of tower blocks.
If you find a mouse hole, make sure that you block it up with a rodent-proof sealer as they can make short work of normal DIY sealers and fillers. These rodent-proof sealers are full of metal fibres that even the most determined mouse isn’t going to be able to gnaw through.
But the difficulty with mouse holes isn’t sealing them, it’s finding them. Their routes into your home are often beneath kitchen counters, under floorboards, in the walls and through foundations. This is why complete mouse proofing is only truly possible with professional help.
While you might have some luck killing mice with DIY traps and poisons, simply reducing their population isn’t going to permanently eliminate an infestation. Once they’ve found a way into your home, they’ll keep coming back.
Professional pest controllers have access to poisons that aren’t available to the public and are much more effective, without any of the nasty side effects of rotting bodies in the walls or floors. The desiccating poisons used by professional pests controllers dry out the mice so that they don’t rot or leave a smell, after which the corpse is eaten by other mice which spreads the poison even further.
Just as important as how the mice are killed is all the other work that pest controllers have to do to identify and prevent future infestation. This is the work that separates pest controllers from cowboy exterminators. If floorboards need to be taken up or kitchen units disassembled, you don’t want those jobs to be put into the hands of people who don’t know how to do them properly.
At Environ, on top of our pest controllers, we have our own carpenters, plumbers, plasterers and any other trade that’s we need to thoroughly mouse proof your home from top to bottom without leaving any damage – in fact, we’re more likely to leave it looking better. Our mouse proofing is almost always a permanent solution, meaning that you won’t be stuck in long term contracts or keep having to hire pest controllers year after year.
The signs of a mouse infestation are droppings, holes, grease marks and more. Click here to learn professional tips for identifying mice, plus simple DIY tests.
Worried you have rats or mice? Learn how to tell the difference with our guide, from their behaviour to the holes they make and the droppings they leave behind.