Identification and Life Cycle
The house mouse is known as the Mus musculus meaning “little thief”. Its body can be brown or dark gray with a light gray belly, and a semi-naked tail lighter in color. It is slender with large eyes and ears (lacking fur) proportion to its head with flat, non-grooved teeth. The head and body length is 2-1/2” to 3-1/2” and the tail ranges between 3 to 4” long.
Rodents can rapidly increase in numbers due to their short gestation period, large litter size, rapid maturation and frequent breeding. They have an average life span of about one year.
A Rodent is able to reproduce at 1 month old, having a gestation period of 20 days, producing 6 to 10 litters a year with up to 5 to 7 pups per litter. This can add up to 30 to 60 young per year.
Each mouse produces 40 to 100 droppings and 3,000 micro drops of urine daily. Fecal droppings are 1/4- inch long and rod shaped. The number of droppings may help provide an estimate on the size of an infestation.
The house mouse is mostly active at night. It may nest in any portion of a building near food and has an average range of 10 to 30 feet from its nest. Look for signs of nesting or droppings in cupboards, closets, storage areas and insulation in wall voids and attics. Materials used for nesting are typically shredded paper, cardboard, cloth, furniture stuffing, insulation, and other similar materials.
Habits and Damage
House mice are most likely to be inside when it’s cold outside. In multi-unit housing, mice may never venture outside. They can live in homes, grocery stores, factories, commercial buildings, restaurants, parks, construction sites, furniture, etc. Mice eat many types of food, but prefer seeds and grain. They adapt with ease and can survive in very small areas with limited amounts of food and shelter.
The house mouse is very social and lives in groups or colonies with their territories marked by urine. Mice have poor eye sight, but can memorize their territory and get around easily. They are excellent climbers and will use rope, telephone and even computer wires to travel. They have the ability to jump-up 12 inches and jump-down 6 to 8 feet without injury. They can enter into buildings through gaps around door frames and openings along utility wires, cables and through 1/4” to 1/2 “holes or crevices.
Rodents gnaw holes in surfaces to gain entry into buildings or food containers and can cause extensive damage if infestations are large. They burrow under buildings and undermine the stability of structures. They also chew on furniture, walls, insulation, clothing, wood and electrical wires which can start electrical fires. Rodents pose health concerns to humans as they can transmit salmonella, tapeworm and can trigger asthma.
Common Signs Of Rodent Activity
- Rub Marks. Markings consist of natural oils & dirt from their fur when rubbing against walls while running.
- Gnaw Marks. Cracks & crevices can be entry points to a structure and mice will gnaw to enlarge a small opening.
- Fecal Droppings. Droppings are found along movement paths and can indicate where the mice are most active.
- Nests. Nest sites can be found in undisturbed places such as wall voids, furniture and under cabinets.
- Musky Odor. House mice have a characteristic musky odor to them.
- Sounds. Such as gnawing, climbing in walls and running across the upper surface in ceilings.
Prevention and Management
The best strategy for rodent control is prevention. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program can help eliminate and maintain a rodent-free environment to suit the specific level of infestation.
Inspection. A thorough inspection can determine the nesting and feeding sites as well as to identify the interior & exterior problem areas that contribute to the infestation.
Sanitation. A large part of pest elimination. Infestations can be decreased by limiting availability of food & shelter. Eliminate rubbish piles, and place garbage in trash cans with tightly fitted lids.
Exclusion.Rodents can enter buildings through small openings 1/4-inch and larger. Bait and seal holes. Seal cracks and crevices around door frames, windows & foundations to keep them out.
Baiting.Proper placement of bait stations and selecting the right bait is crucial. Think location, location, location.
Trapping (non-chemical).This is most effective with small infestations and is recommended for areas such as homes, schools, and commercial kitchens.
The following steps can be taken to help prevent or reduce a potential problem with rodents.
- Gnaw-proof materials such as copper mesh or steel wool can be used to seal small holes after baiting.
- Install door sweepers to insure that doors close tightly. (Mice only need 1/2 -inch space to enter).
- Clean up food waste and spillage daily.
- Screen dumpster drainage holes with hardware cloth.
- Eliminate debris in and around buildings and grounds. Store wood pallets at least 18-Inches from a structure wall to allow proper inspection.
- Don’t leave pet food out overnight.
- Eliminate water sources available to rodents.
- Store food in rodent-proof containers.
- Seal all cracks and openings in the foundation as well as around utility pipes and wires.
- Clean-up all fecal droppings to prevent contamination.
Follow the above tips to rodent prevention and management or call rodent exterminators nearby you for the inspection and safe removal services.