Mouse Facts & Information
Protect your home or business from mice by learning techniques for identification and control.
Types of Mice
What do mice look like?
These three species of mice are very similar in both size and weight. They are typically about 5½ to 7½-inches long, including the length of their tail. One of the most obvious distinctions within these species is coloration.
How do I get rid of mice?
What Orkin Does
Almost all mice infestations require the use of Orkin's Points of Service to help get rid of mice. The most important thing your Orkin Pro will do is correctly identify the species of mouse and develop a mouse treatment plan that is effective and efficient for the particular pest that's causing the problems.
We Investigate: We’ll inspect your home from top to bottom, inside and out, for current or potential rodent problems.
We Protect: We’ll treat the perimeter of your structure with the appropriate materials, remove all accessible mouse nests, and use the safest methods available.
We Fortify: We’ll do everything we can to keep pests out--seal, caulk, plug, and secure gaps and cracks.
We Keep Watch: We’ll treat the interior of your home and install pest monitors in critical areas such as kitchens, baths, utility rooms, and garages.
We Report: We’ll always provide a detailed report of services rendered and recommendations to help keep your home free of mice.
We Follow up: We’ll stay in touch between our regularly scheduled visits and respond to any immediate needs.
Depending on your specific situation, the Orkin Pro will employ both non-chemical and chemical methods. Non-chemical methods are effective and also result in the need to use fewer chemical methods to achieve control. Some effective non-chemical mouse control procedures your exterminator will recommend include:
Exclusion and sealing off sites that allow mice to enter a structure. Your rodent exterminator will seal openings greater than ¼-inch using screen, flashing, door sweeps, heavy-duty sealants, and other exclusion materials. Keeping mice out of the structure is not always a simple project; however, the exclusion is the single, best long-term way to deal with mice problems.
Your Orkin Pro will recommend using both inside and outside sanitation measures to help minimize available food and water that attracts and supports a mouse population. Also, your exterminator will recommend removing vegetation, debris, or clutter that creates hiding places mice can use as harborage sites.
Your exterminator's mouse treatment plan often includes using mouse traps and other mechanical devices to kill or remove mice. While mouse baits are very effective, caution must be exercised to ensure that they are properly placed and the instructions on the product’s label are strictly followed. One of the more common techniques for rodent bait use is to place the bait formulation in a tamper-proof rodent bait station that protects the bait from accidental exposure to non-target animals or people.
One final thing you should remember is don’t procrastinate when you see signs of a mouse problem as mice can reproduce very quickly. So, if you wait too long to start control measures, a few mice can quickly become a large infestation. For help preventing and getting rid of mice infestations, call your local Orkin branch.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
What do mice look like?
The deer mouse is grayish-brown to reddish-brown with white-colored undersides and feet and a tail that is less than half the body length.
The white-footed mouse looks almost identical to the deer mouse, except for its larger size.
Each of these three mouse species is primarily nocturnal and is quick to escape from dangerous situations. If mice are seen during the day, it is likely a house mouse. The house mouse and the white-footed mouse are good climbers and swimmers. House mice stay close to their nests and rarely travel more than 100 feet from the nest. The white-footed mouse and the deer mouse are more likely to venture farther from their nest.
Mice are likely to store food in their nest or burrow and are considered omnivores. In their wild, non-domestic settings, mice eat many kinds of plant leaves, stems, seeds, plant roots, fruits, berries and insects. Deer mice will also consume their own feces. When occupying areas close to humans, they will eat whatever is left lying around and easily available to them.
The house mouse prefers to live near where people live, but they also will live in fields and woods; however, they seldom stray too far from buildings and are the most likely mouse to infest urban areas. As the weather begins to cool, they seek shelter that is frequently a home, storage shed or barn. The deer mouse is found in many different habitats including forests, deserts, grasslands and agricultural fields. However, its most common habitats are prairies, bushy areas and woodlands. White-footed mice are most likely to inhabit woodland, suburban and agricultural environments. Rodent surveys have shown that white-footed mice are the most abundant small rodents in the mixed hardwood forests of the eastern part of our country and in brushy areas that grow up adjacent to agricultural fields.
How often do mice reproduce?
The house mouse breeds year-round inside structures such as homes. However, in its wild environment, the breeding period is generally from about April through September. Females generally have 5-10 litters per year and the litter size ranges from 3-12 pups, but normally about five or six. Females reach sexual maturity at five to six weeks old and will live for about one year in the wild and up to two years in protected areas.
In the typical deer mouse environment, reproduction does not occur or is drastically scaled back during the winter months. Litter size varies and may be from 1-11 offspring with a typical litter of 4-6. As one might expect, reproduction is greater in the warmer parts of the country than in the colder locations.
In the north, breeding and birthing of white-footed mice occurs mostly in the spring and late-summer or fall. Within the southern portion of its distribution, breeding and development occur for a longer period. Adults are ready to mate at about 38-44 days old, have from 2-4 litters per year, with each litter containing from 2-9 young. Interestingly, the female’s litter size increases as she gives birth to more generations; peaks at the fifth or sixth litter; and begins to decrease as she ages. White-footed mice live for only about a year in the wild.
How to Detect a Mouse Infestation
Seeing a mouse is an obvious sign of an infestation, especially given the fact that mice are very secretive and nocturnal. Thus, the appearance of a mouse can indicate a large population, since other adult mice already occupy the more protective, hidden places for mice to nest. Most often these animals are spotted scurrying along walls or running to and from areas normally not disturbed.
Mice droppings are found in locations where mice live, travel, or stop to eat or collect food. Removing droppings and reinspecting, later on, is a good way to determine whether a mouse population is still active inside a structure. ALWAYS USE RESPIRATORY PROTECTION WHEN REMOVING MICE DROPPINGS.
Footprints and tracks left in dusty locations can also be a sign of a mouse infestation.
Since mice are nest builders, seeing nests in burrows or wall voids that provide protection certainly indicates mouse activity.
Mice like to gnaw and chew on items in their habitat. Therefore, the appearance of chewed debris such as paper, bits of food, pieces of plastic, or bits of wood and gnaw marks along the edges of wood or other hard materials in frequently traveled areas indicate the presence of mice. If one sees food packages that appear to be chewed into, a mouse infestation may be a possibility.
Noises such as mice scurrying from one location to another or gnawing and scratching within walls or attics are also signs of an infection.
Odors from a dead mouse or urine and fecal deposit are very unpleasant indicators of a mouse infestation.
How to Prevent Mice in Your Home
To prevent mice from entering the home, all cracks, crevices, holes and gaps larger than a pen cap should be sealed with cement or a mixing compound. It is not advised that wood be used to seal these holes, as mice are capable of chewing through those surfaces.
Cleanliness may also have an effect on mouse infestations. Be sure to wash dishes immediately following use. Food should be stored in glass or metal containers with tight lids. Mice acquire most of their water from scavenged food particles, so no crumbs or morsels should be left on tabletops or floors.
When a home is already infested, prevention methods prove inefficient. The most effective mouse control methods are those administered by trained professionals.
Dig Deeper on Mice
Mouse Facts & Control
Mice do climb trees, so to help keep mice out of your home, it is essential to trim tree branches around your home.
Some mouse species, like the pocket mouse, can be found in desert environments.
Depending on their habitat and several other factors, mice usually live for 12-18 months.
Mice can enter homes through gaps and cracks in walls, windows, and foundations.
Mouse traps typically use bait to attract and lure rodents.
As mice can carry dangerous bacteria and viruses, it's essential to contact an exterminator to properly sanitize your home following an infestation.
Mice can often be found hiding within floors, attics, and crawlspaces, making a rodent infestation difficult for homeowners to manage and control.
The best ways to get rid of mice are to use several mouse traps, seal all openings, remove lawn clutter, and call an Orkin Pro for mouse control.
The best way to get rid of mice and rodent infestations is to call an Orkin Pro for a customized mouse treatment plan.
Mouse-repellent sprays have not been found to be effective at repelling mice.
Sounds coming from under floorboards and gnaw marks are common signs of mice living under a house.
Mouse bait stations can help get rid of some mice, but are ineffective at removing an entire mouse infestation from your home.
To keep mice out of homes, homeowners should start by sealing gaps and cracks with access to the outdoors.
Several species of mice prefer to live close to humans to have easy access to food scraps, water, and shelter.
Mice have a very high birth rate of approximately 60 babies per year and can live up to two years.
Since mice like to live close to their food source, if you see a mouse, its nest is likely nearby.
Natural mouse repellents have not been found to be effective at preventing or repelling mouse or rat infestations.
Snap traps and glue board mouse traps work by attracting rodents using bait.
Mice have very strong teeth and can chew through various materials including wood, rubber, and fiberglass.
Mice carry several dangerous diseases through their feces and urine including hantavirus, salmonellosis, and leptospirosis.
Mice typically enter homes when temperatures drop during winter.
Many people use peppermint oil to keep their homes mice free, but high concentrations of the oil may cause throat and skin irritation.