Hugh Cairns: Mouse!

Property owners typically become aware of mouse activity after discovering droppings. Effective control involves sanitation, exclusion, and population reduction. Photo: Contributed – (Hugh Cairns)

Hugh Cairns: Mouse!

When I’m out inspecting it’s not uncommon to find evidence of rodents. Evidence can be found year round, but just like us humans, in the winter rodents want to be safe warm and dry. Rats and mice search out shelter and invade our homes through cracks and holes. Rats can fit through holes the size of a quarter. Mice can fit through holes the size of a dime. In both cases, rodents will damage your home and make a hole in your wallet. I regularly see the damage they cause inside of our homes. Sometimes it’s pretty serious. The real concern is that rodents can spread diseases.

It’s estimated that a third of homeowners will experience a rodent problem in their home this year and half of those invasions occur in the winter months.  About a quarter of infestations occur in both the spring and summer months.  

Evidence of recent gnawing is a great sign of mice activity. Mice will chew on just about anything including wood and food packaging. They’ll chew through drywall just to be comfortable. They’ll tatter books and paper towels for their nests.  When rodents invade your home, they can ruin insulation by shredding it to make a nest and by peeing in it. Mice are known to be the cause of electrical fires by chewing on wires.

Mice spread Salmonella and other bacteria through their droppings. Droppings are the most commonly encountered evidence of rodent activity. Mice can leave literally thousands of droppings behind in a short period of time. Adult mice typically produce up to 100 droppings every day. About ¼” long, tapered at both end and dark coloured, they’re not hard to miss. Breeding mice will produce about a dozen offspring every three weeks, so it’s plain to see that infestations progressively cause adverse conditions until they are eliminated. The life span of a mouse typically is 9 to 12 months or until they are terminated, whichever comes first.

Mice urine is known to trigger allergies and disease. Serious stuff. I never got the whole pet rat, mouse or hamster thing. Letting children play and have contact with mice or hamsters, their urine and feces is beyond me.   

So, where do I find the most evidence? Well, that would be the garage and attic. Why? Because less attention is paid to cleaning and maintaining these areas. Where do home owners most often find mice? The answer is their kitchens because of food sources. I find less evidence in kitchens than anywhere else because homeowners and tenants will make the effort to clean up the poop, but that is not always the case.

If you leave your food out in the open, and you have an infestation, then you’re feeding your pests. If you can’t refrigerate a food item, then store it in a sturdy sealable container. Desperate mice do desperate things. They’ll pretty much gnaw through any plastic bag or cardboard box to get to your food.

Keep it clean. Clean up after meals, sure it’s a pain, but it’s better than dealing with an infestation. Don’t leave dirty dishes in bedrooms or in the sink. Wipe your counters clean of food debris and vacuum regularly.

After the kitchen – 50% of discovered infestations combined occur in basements and bedrooms. Attics and garages are the next most popular places to find a mouse. Surprisingly, about 10% of infestations are found in a bathroom.

Pest control service providers provide low cost inspections, so if you think you might have a pest problem, don’t hesitate to give the experts a call.