When you see a mouse in your house, you better believe there are more scurrying around your home. The tiny creatures are a nuisance that may seem to appear out of nowhere. Not only do they carry diseases, but they also damage household structures and contaminate your food. If you have never had to deal with a mice infestation before, there are some things you need to know about the creatures as you get ready to take action against the rodents.
Mice Are Not Rats
While they are very similar creatures, mice and rats are not the same. Rats tend to stay on ground floors and in basements. Mice will infiltrate all areas of your home, including the attic, eaves and even air ducts. They will climb up wall cavities and pipes to reach openings to upper floors. You need to take this into account when you begin extermination efforts. The pests will destroy the insulation in your attic as they gnaw on the material and leave droppings.
Knowing the difference between mice and rats can help you when you need to describe the pests in your house to exterminators. You may think you see baby rats when in fact your home has a mice infestation.
Adult mice are much smaller than adult rats. Mice bodies are generally no more than 3 to 4 inches long with a 3 to 4 inch tail. The body of a rat grows up to 11 inches long with a 7 to 9 inch tail.
Mice have hairy tails while rats have scaly, hairless tails.
Mice have triangular shaped heads and long whiskers while rats have stubby, broad heads.
Mice Are Not Simply Cheeseheads
Pop culture often portrays mice as wily, cheese-loving creatures sneaking around traps to obtain food. In reality, mice enjoy a wide variety of food sources. The small rodents eat all types of fruit as well as nuts. In addition, they love to feed on chocolate, snails, bird seeds, grains, peanut butter, vegetables and droppings from other animals including dogs.
Mice have a great sense of smell and can climb rough vertical surfaces. So the pests can even reach food stored in high places.
Unfortunately for homeowners, mice also love to gnaw on house structures. When you have an infestation, you may notice gnaw marks on wiring, cardboard and furniture. When sources of food diminish, female rats may turn into cannibals and eat their young.
Lawn Maintenance Can Play a Big Role in Managing Infestations
While you will need to rely on the services of exterminators to set traps and use bait with professional-use-only rodenticides, you can aid their efforts by performing some basic yard maintenance to help keep mice out of your home.
When you realize that you have mice in your house, you should make sure that nothing in your yard is attracting the rodents to your property.
Do not let garbage cans overflow. Make sure that you use cans with tight-fitting lids.
If you have fruit and nut trees, clean up fallen fruit. Edibles on the ground are easy pickings for mice. The rodents will also feed on vegetables that fall from bushes.
Store bird feed and pet food in air-tight containers high off the ground. Never leave pet food out overnight, especially near doorways.
Mow and rake your lawn on a regular basis.
Clean up piles of leaves, grass clippings, firewood, tree branches and palm fronds. The yard debris provides spaces for mice to hide, build nests and move from the ground to openings in your house undetected.
Dead Mice Can Still Be Hazardous
As dead mice begin to pile up after you hire an exterminator to kill the rodents, you need to exercise caution when handling dead carcasses. The dead rodents still carry diseases. Even though a mouse is dead, it may still be infested with lice, ticks and fleas.
Always wear protective clothing including disposable gloves, long sleeve shirts, boots, and a face mask when handling dead mice. Put the carcass in a plastic bag, seal it, then put that bag in another plastic bag and seal the second bag as well. When you dispose of the bodies, put them in garbage cans outside with a tight lid. Do not forget to disinfect areas where you find dead mice.
Contact a pest control company that specializes in mice extermination for more information.