Some think that they’re cute, but they scare the wits out of others. However you feel about mice, one thing is clear: If you see one or evidence of one in your home, it’s better to act quickly to get rid of them. Otherwise, the little fury critters can wreak havoc in your home and pose a health risk to you and your family.
As the most common mammal in the country, we all will most likely encounter mice at some point. The colder fall and winter months are the time when mice and other rodents look to come inside warm structures searching for food and protection against the freezing temperatures. Each year, an estimated 21 million invade homes across the country, according the National Pest Management Association.
They’re hungry little critters, too. Mice eat between 15 to 20 times a day, so they prefer to be near food. They can also jump about a foot into the air, giving them the ability to hop up onto counters or pantries. Their tiny bodies can fit through an opening the size of a dime, making any crack or small opening to the outside an entry point into your home.
While mice don’t live a long time, about five months in the wild, they make up for that by having a lot of baby mice fast. A female mouse can give birth starting at two months old and can have about a dozen babies every three weeks. If you spotted one mouse in the house, there are probably others lurking nearby, and it can quickly become a bigger infestation if it’s not properly addressed.
Mice also like to gnaw on electrical wiring, causing damage that can lead to a greater risk of an electrical fire. Beyond that, mice can carry as many as 200 disease-causing organisms, such as the Hantavirus and Salmonella.
Simple preventative measure can help keep mice and other rodents outside in the cold. Truly Nolen recommends homeowners take the following steps to protect their property and their family’s health:
- Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged screens.
- Screen vents and openings to chimneys.
- Seal cracks and holes on the outside of the home, including areas where utilities and pipes enter the home, using caulk, steel wool or a combination of both.
- Keep a close eye on the garage. As it is hard to seal up adequately, mice can move in here easily, readily accessing the rest of the house with ease.
- Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly.
- Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
- Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement foundation and windows.
- Eliminate all moisture sites, including leaking pipes and clogged drains that provide the perfect breeding site for pests.
- Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house and keep shrubbery trimmed and cut back from the house.
- If you suspect a pest infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.