What to Do When Mice Have Invaded Your Home (2022)

Do not be fooled by their cute and fuzzy faces: Mice are not creatures you want in your house. It’s one thing to see a little field mouse scurry down a path in a park, and another thing entirely when they’re chewing your furniture, leaving droppings all over the kitchen or gnawing electrical wirings in your walls. Not to mention that rodents in general are harbingers of many diseases. They’re also clever, resourceful and difficult to get rid of.

My parents’ house has recently become the unfortunate host to these abominable critters, so we’ve been dealing with this nightmare first-hand. The experience has taught me that any home can become potential nesting grounds for rodents. They’re just looking for a safe spot that offers warmth and food. While that’s great for them, it’s frustrating and unsanitary for us. Here’s what to do about it.

Confirm that you have a mouse problem

Mice are like tiny, four-legged ninjas who make themselves scarce, but when you have a potential rodent problem, you might spot one scampering away out of the corner of your eye. Once you see one inside your house, you should immediately suspect you have a nest somewhere—in your walls, in the attic, in the garage, wherever.

Most people don’t even realize they have mice until things get really bad. The most obvious signs of a mouse problem are droppings, which look like this. (I’ll never look at chocolate sprinkles or caraway seeds the same way again.) Though it’s temping to just wipe them up, make sure you take extra safety precautions when doing so, such as wearing gloves and a mask. Disinfect the area afterward, and throw away food that might’ve been contaminated. The last thing you want is to get sick at the same time you discover an infestation.

(Video) How to Get Rid of House Mice (4 Easy Steps)

You may also find chewed up food packages or pieces of your wall at floor level from the mice having drilled through them. You may hear scratching in your walls or attic or the pitter-patter of tiny little feet at night. And if all that isn’t gross enough, you may also find pillars comprised of body grease, dirt and urine, which build up into small mounds up to two inches high and half an inch wide. And yes, they smell bad.

Any or all of these signs means you’ve got a potential infestation on your hands. The good news is that getting rid of mice is simple in principle. The bad news is that it could take a lot of work or money.

Start by “mouse-proofing” your home

What to Do When Mice Have Invaded Your Home (1)

(Video) Mice have invaded the barn! Now what??

Getting rid of mice is not easy. Mice entered your home because it’s cozy, has food in it and ,most of all, is easy to get into. Contrary to what you see in cartoons like Tom & Jerry, mice don’t need a gaping half-circle of a hole in your baseboard. They can squeeze through tiny cracks and gaps that are smaller than the circumference of your pinky finger. Basically, if you can fit a pencil into a hole, a mouse can probably fit, too. They are very skilled contortionists.

The first step is to inspect the outside of your home to find possible places mice can squeeze through. Check stairs, the foundation, the corners and any place that might hide small crevices. When you find anything that can possibly be an entryway, close it off with wire mesh. For inside the house, you can use steel wool and caulk to plug up any holes you find.

Mice can chew through practically any material except steel. In my experience, using a wire mesh wherever possible has been most effective. You’ll need to do this for anything resembling a hole. That includes cracks and gaps along the ceiling and even those high up on a wall. Just assume that these tenacious creatures can reach anywhere in your house.

(Video) Woman says mice taking over her apartment

Set traps around the house

As they say, the best offense is a solid defense. You’ve cut off all possible points of entry into your home to prevent more mice from getting in. Next you have to deal with the ones that are already nice and comfortable inside by setting traps. This part the cartoons got right, but mouse traps are a little more complicated than that. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Type of trap: Typically, you’ll choose between a sticky or a spring-loaded lethal trap. My parents and relatives have had success with sticky traps, but the traditional Victor snap trap seems to be quite reliable for others. The CDC, however, recommends against the sticky traps because the mouse will be left alive and may urinate out of fear, and mice urine can spread disease. If you are a softie, you can also investigate no-kill “humane” traps.
  • Type of bait: Once you have traps, you have to decide on a bait to lure the mice into them. Cheese is one option, naturally, but there’s actually a long list of things that could tickle a mouse’s fancy, from peanut butter to chocolate, gumdrops, maple syrup and bacon. (Mice know what’s delicious.) This article by How to Get Rid of Mice goes over the various kinds of bait and other general tips and strategies for baiting and trapping mice.
  • The location and position of the trap: Where you place the traps is vital. Mice are actually very careful and clever creatures. The CDC recommends placing traps perpendicular to a wall (forming a T). Try laying traps where you think there’s a lot of mouse activity, like behind large pieces of furniture and dark places.

If your traps haven’t caught anything in many days and you still see signs of mice, there are two possible reasons: First, traps are only helpful in eliminating the shitheads that are already in your home, and won’t do anything to deter more from coming in if you have yet to properly seal up entry points from the outside. The second thing is that you sometimes have to move the traps around to different places, as mice try to avoid traps, especially if you’ve caught a mouse in the same area before.

When you should call a professional

You can only hold off on calling a professional for so long. Sure, you can try to find every single hole, then plug them up and trap the remaining mice, but the real question is: Is doing so worth risking your energy, sanity and, most importantly, your health?

This was the mistake my parents made. They wasted a lot of energy, unnecessary backaches and money on various DIY methods and expensive mouse repellents that simply don’t work. At the same time, rodent control professionals can cost anywhere between $100 to $900. This obviously depends on the company, the size of your house, what the service entails and the severity of the rodent invasion. I shopped around and had several exterminators come out to assess the situation; I asked questions like how they’re going to deal with the mice and if there’s a mouse-elimination guarantee, or at least the possibility of followup visits, if necessary.

Before you call a professional, make sure they specialize in dealing with rodents specifically, and ask about their success rate. Most professionals should do a thorough inspection of the outside of your home to see where the mice might be getting in. This article goes over some great tips on finding and talking to a professional.

(Video) How to Survive a Mice Infestation

Be wary of companies that recommend poison from the get-go. It may be initially effective, but it doesn’t guarantee success. It might kill off the mice (and other things, sadly—if you choose to use poison, you must be careful to safeguard your own pets, and be aware that it could kill neighborhood animals and other wildlife around your home), but that means you might wind up with rotting mouse carcasses around your home, in your walls, under the floor or in the attic.

No, the only tried-and-true way to evict these freeloaders is to prevent them from entering your home in the first place. A good company will offer to keep coming back out to check if the infestation has been resolved.

Even after a professional has visited, a mouse infestation isn’t a problem that goes away overnight. However, if you don’t find fresh droppings after a week of watching and waiting, it’s a good sign your furry guests are taking their leave. To reduce the likelihood they’ll visit again, always make sure you tidy up, avoid leaving garbage out and keep your food in airtight containers.

This story was originally published in September 2016 and updated in August 2020. Updates included checking and refreshing links, adding a section about humane traps and performing a copy edit to align the content with current Lifehacker style.

FAQs

How many mice is considered an infestation? ›

It can be quite hard for an average homeowner to determine whether they are dealing with a full-scale infestation or just one or two wandering mice. With that being said, one male and one female mouse are all it takes for an infestation to happen.

Why am I catching so many mice in my house? ›

There are two main things that can attract mice and rats to your house – food and shelter. If you don't tidy up properly and there's food waste on the floor or surfaces, rodents are going to love it! Rats and mice also need shelter, particularly during winter to avoid the worst of the cold.

How long does it take to get rid of an infestation of mice? ›

It will depend on the degree of infestation, but typically it takes 1-3 months for exterminators to get rid of mice.

How many mice are usually in a house? ›

The average mouse nest can be home to between a dozen and two dozen mice, depending on their age and the presence of other mice in the vicinity. Because mice nest in order to raise their pups, they seek out warm, dry areas that are well protected and close to a food source.

How can you tell how many mice you have? ›

Look at the Number of Droppings

A mouse can leave behind anywhere between 50 and 75 pellets per day as a single creature. You're not going to sit around and count them, though. You'll have to estimate the number of droppings, but if you see large mounds of them, then you know that it's not just a single mouse.

How do you know when all the mice are gone? ›

Fouls Smells

Like droppings, mice also tend to leave foul smells from their urine. A good way to tell if mice no long roam in your home is if the foul, Ammonia-like smell diminishes. You can't smell this odor if mice no longer relive themselves in your home.

Where do mice usually nest in a house? ›

Inside a home, mice usually build their dens in undisturbed, enclosed spaces, including: Drawers - An unused sliding drawer filled with paper provides the perfect spot for a mouse nest. Wall voids - Mice will chew through drywall in order to get into these quiet, hidden areas. Voids under floor cabinets.

How do you know if you have a lot of mice? ›

Mouse droppings are the biggest indicator of an infestation. Mice produce a lot of droppings and you can find them anywhere. Recognizing mouse droppings is simple enough. Fresh droppings are dark, moist, and as big as a grain of rice on average.

How do you find out where mice are getting in your house? ›

Look closely at your foundation for cracks or gaps where a mouse could squeeze through. Wherever possible, climb underneath porches and look behind stairs, bushes, or other objects. There may be holes that have been made larger over the years by water damage and chewing pests.

Do mice run back to where they came from? ›

If conditions are more favourable than the place it left, the mouse may decide to settle down. If the conditions are not favourable, it will likely they will return where they came from.

Will mice bite you in your sleep? ›

Do mice bite in your sleep? Rarely, and that only happens if they somehow went looking for food in your bed and felt threatened there. Regardless, you should be more concerned about their ability to spread disease around your home by gnawing, scratching, and chewing on everything in their path.

Why are mice so hard to get rid of? ›

One of the main reason is that they're resourceful and far more clever than your average spider or cockroach. No matter how pristine your home may be, it is susceptible to mice infestations. They enter your home for the same reasons you live in it; it's cozy, warm, it has plenty of food, and it keeps them safe.

What poison kills mice instantly? ›

FASTRAC BLOX with the active ingredient, Bromethalin, is Bell's fastest-acting rodenticide formulation.

Where do mice hide during the day? ›

House mice prefer living in cool, dark places during the day. The most common areas they like to hide are in between walls, pantries, cupboards, sofas, old boxes, and other similar areas wherein they would not be disturbed inside your home.

Can a clean house have mice? ›

A common misconception is that mice are only attracted to dirty places or areas with lots of trash, that is not the case. In fact, mice are explorers who go around looking for any source of food they can find. Just because your home is clean, doesn't mean you're protected from a mice infestation.

Will a mouse leave on its own? ›

Contrary to popular belief, mice do not leave on their own, and in order to successfully rid your home of them, you will need to contact a professional pest control company. Dealing with a mice infestation inside of your home is something that no homeowner wants to deal with.

Do mice get in beds? ›

Can Mice Climb on Beds? Mice are excellent climbers that can crawl up just about any surface. They can also leap one foot into the air, which is why climbing or jumping into the bed is an easy task for them. The bed frame is likely made of wood that's easy to climb.

Do most houses have mice? ›

Yes, it's quite common.

Estimates vary, but some think that as many as 21 million homes are infested with mice every year in the United States. Mice are very common animals. They breed quickly, can live in almost any climate, and they eat a lot of the same foods we do.

How do professionals get rid of mice? ›

Expect to see baited traps in these areas as well as rodent poison. Rodenticide correctly deployed on the exterior of a house may be the preferred method for getting rid of mice. Traps are effective solutions, but the correct use of rodenticides is best for complete extermination. Follow up is important too.

Can mice get into fridges? ›

Kitchens & laundry rooms - Check behind all appliances, as mice can easily squeeze into gaps behind a fridge, freezer, or under the base of a stove. Any areas where pipework or cabling enters through walls from the outside offers mice a chance to sneak in, so check behind the washing machine, too!

Do mice come out every night? ›

People often think that mice are only active at night because they usually spot them or hear them at night. In reality, you can see a mouse any time of day. Mice have just evolved to be more active at night because there are typically fewer dangers for them after the sun goes down.

Will keeping the lights on keep mice away? ›

Unfortunately, the light inside your house is not a very effective deterrent to mice. Once inside a house or a building, they can easily look for dark areas to hide until such time as all lights are turned off. Places they can hide include inside the walls, crawl spaces, attics, and ceilings.

Where do mice hide in bedrooms? ›

Under furniture or inside upholstered furniture voids. In secluded corners of cluttered rooms, garages or attics. Inside stored cardboard boxes. Voids in walls or ceilings, usually near heat sources.

What time are mice most active? ›

Mice are nocturnal creatures, so they are most active between dusk and dawn. They don't usually like bright lights, but a mouse may sometimes be seen during the day, especially if its nest has been disturbed or it is seeking food. Seeing them in the day also can indicate a large infestation in a home.

What time of year do mice come inside? ›

Rodents have a tendency to move around more during summer as opposed to other seasons. This is a necessity for their survival – to relocate from their winter and spring nests into places where they will be more comfortable during the summer heat.

What is a serious mouse infestation? ›

You may never see a mouse or rat unless an infestation is severe. Look for signs of rat or mouse infestation: Rodent droppings around food packages, in drawers or cupboards, and under the sink. Nesting material such as shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter. Signs of chewing on food packaging.

How do you get rid of mice when traps aren't working? ›

Cheese is a good bait for pest control, although not the best one. Peanut butter or a hazelnut spread is quite effective baits. They both stick to the surface, and it is harder for a mouse to simply eat it and run away without being caught. You can put peanut butter on cheese and set up mouse traps.

What smells will keep mice away? ›

Peppermint oil, cayenne pepper, pepper and cloves.

Mice are said to hate the smell of these. Lightly soak some cotton balls in oils from one or more of these foods and leave the cotton balls in places where you've had problems with mice.

How do exterminators get rid of mice in walls? ›

They achieve this by the use of glue traps, snap traps, ultrasonic devices among other methods effective in eliminating the mice. If you have dead mice in the walls, the exterminator uses an electronic borescope to identify its location. Once that's done, they drill a small hole to remove it and later seal the hole.

Where do mice hide during the day? ›

House mice prefer living in cool, dark places during the day. The most common areas they like to hide are in between walls, pantries, cupboards, sofas, old boxes, and other similar areas wherein they would not be disturbed inside your home.

How do you find out where mice are getting in your house? ›

Look closely at your foundation for cracks or gaps where a mouse could squeeze through. Wherever possible, climb underneath porches and look behind stairs, bushes, or other objects. There may be holes that have been made larger over the years by water damage and chewing pests.

What sound do mice hate? ›

These pesky animals hate high-intensity ultrasonic sounds. The sounds whose frequencies are greater than 20kHz are regarded as ultrasonic sound waves. The sound intensity lying in the range of 22kHZ to 35kHz is irritating and acoustically unbearable for rats, mice, and other rodents.

Will a mouse climb into my bed? ›

Can Mice Climb on Beds? Mice are excellent climbers that can crawl up just about any surface. They can also leap one foot into the air, which is why climbing or jumping into the bed is an easy task for them. The bed frame is likely made of wood that's easy to climb.

Will mice come near me while I sleep? ›

Mice actually prefer to avoid human contact and are rather shy creatures, so the chances of them snuggling up with you in bed is not likely.

How do you know when all the mice are gone? ›

Fouls Smells

Like droppings, mice also tend to leave foul smells from their urine. A good way to tell if mice no long roam in your home is if the foul, Ammonia-like smell diminishes. You can't smell this odor if mice no longer relive themselves in your home.

Can you bomb for mice? ›

Bombs can help you eliminate many mice at a time. However, the dangers involved in using them make them too risky to use indoors. They can be of great help in dealing with an infestation in your yard, garden, or a commercial setting. If you have to use them indoors, it's best to enlist the help of a professional.

What do professionals use to get rid of mice? ›

Rodenticide correctly deployed on the exterior of a house may be the preferred method for getting rid of mice. Traps are effective solutions, but the correct use of rodenticides is best for complete extermination.

Will a mouse leave on its own? ›

Contrary to popular belief, mice do not leave on their own, and in order to successfully rid your home of them, you will need to contact a professional pest control company. Dealing with a mice infestation inside of your home is something that no homeowner wants to deal with.

What time do mice come out night? ›

Mice are nocturnal creatures, so they are most active between dusk and dawn. They don't usually like bright lights, but a mouse may sometimes be seen during the day, especially if its nest has been disturbed or it is seeking food.

Do most houses have mice? ›

Yes, it's quite common.

Estimates vary, but some think that as many as 21 million homes are infested with mice every year in the United States. Mice are very common animals. They breed quickly, can live in almost any climate, and they eat a lot of the same foods we do.

What time of year do mice come inside? ›

Rodents have a tendency to move around more during summer as opposed to other seasons. This is a necessity for their survival – to relocate from their winter and spring nests into places where they will be more comfortable during the summer heat.

What do mice eat in your house? ›

Mouse Diet and Habitat Facts

House mice are omnivorous but prefer to consume grains, fruits and seeds. Consequently, they may cause severe damage to crops and domestic gardens. Although it is commonly believed that mice are attracted to cheese, they tend to prefer foods that are higher in carbohydrates.

Is there ever just one mouse in your house? ›

Mice multiply very fast so it is impossible to just have one mouse in the house. As early as six weeks, a female mouse is sexually mature and ready to produce pups. A female mouse who gives birth can actually produce five to six mouse pups per litter. However, it can also reach up to 12 mouse pups in rare instances.

Videos

1. How to Get Rid of Rats and Mice Guaranteed- 4 Easy Steps
(Solutions Pest & Lawn)
2. MAGIC COLGATE || How To Kill Rats Within 10 minutes || Home Remedy || Magic Ingredient | Mr. Maker
(Mr. Maker)
3. College Sorority Invaded By Mice. My Tips and Trick For Catching Mice On Location. Mousetrap Monday
(Shawn Woods)
4. See How Easily a Rat Can Wriggle Up Your Toilet | National Geographic
(National Geographic)
5. Use A Tea Bag And You Will Never See Spiders Or Mice In Your House Again!
(Facts Verse)
6. How mice enter homes
(Clevelandmarko)

Top Articles

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Horacio Brakus JD

Last Updated: 11/13/2022

Views: 5631

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Horacio Brakus JD

Birthday: 1999-08-21

Address: Apt. 524 43384 Minnie Prairie, South Edda, MA 62804

Phone: +5931039998219

Job: Sales Strategist

Hobby: Sculling, Kitesurfing, Orienteering, Painting, Computer programming, Creative writing, Scuba diving

Introduction: My name is Horacio Brakus JD, I am a lively, splendid, jolly, vivacious, vast, cheerful, agreeable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.