Merry Christmouse: Understanding a House Mouse Invasion | Infographic
December 17, 2014
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse - or was it? Roughly 21 million homes are infested with mice each year, especially during the frosty winter months: October through February. The Mus musculus, otherwise known as the house mouse, is the most common rodent found in human residences.
Similar to the holiday decorations you have throughout your home, house mice come in a variety of colors ranging from brown to gray to black and are covered in hair. From the tip of the nose to the end of the tail, they span from 5 ||special189|| to 7 ||special189|| inches in length and weigh up to 30 grams.
While you are cuddled up in bed waiting for Santa Claus to arrive, unwanted visitors may be scampering along the walls of your home in search of a hideout and food. Mice build nests in close proximity to food sources because they do not venture far from their nest - staying within 10-30 feet. However, don't be fooled by their tiny bodies, mice eat about 30 times per day! While they favor cereal grains and seeds, mice are opportunists and will eat anything they can find.
House mice are notorious for gnawing their way through plastic bags and cardboard boxes to reach food, including those delicious Christmas cookies you tirelessly baked. If you aren't worried about mice getting into your cabinets and pantry, you may want to reconsider. House mice can jump over a foot off the ground onto a level surface and climb almost any rough vertical surface. These athletic mammals can even swim and run over wires and ropes.
As if a couple of mice don't cause enough damage, house mice breed rapidly. One female can produce as many as eight litters per year, averaging six pups per litter. It only takes about 21 days for a house mouse to give birth after mating, and mating begins when they are just six weeks old.
Pups are born blind and without hair, completely relying on their mother for the first three weeks of their lives. After a few weeks, baby mice will start to go off on short adventures on their own and become fully mature after 35 days of being born.
It is never a good time to get sick, but with the holidays nearing quickly, illness is less than ideal. House mice can carry 200 pathogens and many diseases humans can catch such as hantavirus, salmonellosis, the bubonic plague and Lyme disease. You can obtain these diseases by inhaling dust that is contaminated by mouse urine or droppings, or coming in direct contact with the rodent and/or their urine and droppings.
Signs of Home Invasion
There are several ways to identify a mouse invasion: sightings, droppings, chewing evidence, tracks, or sounds. While house mice are more active during the evening, it is not uncommon to spot a mouse scurrying along your walls during the day. If you never physically see the mouse, chances are you will notice droppings - one mouse produces between 40 and 100 droppings per day!
House mice will chew through anything they can to access food. The telltale sign of a mouse infestation is the chewing evidence on cereal boxes, ziplock bags containing food and loaves of bread. Mice are known to be quiet and sneaky, but they aren't great at erasing their tracks. House mice have four toes on their front feet and five toes on their back feet. If you notice tiny footprints with this pattern, you can expect mice are hiding out nearby.
If you suspect a mouse invasion, but haven't seen any physical evidence, wait until it is quiet during the evening. Chances are you will hear a scratching sound in the walls from mice chewing or running around your house.
Just when you thought you were ready to take on the holidays; the stockings are hung, the tree is decorated and the lights are lining your rooftop, you could be missing something important. Mice can enter a home or building through almost any gap. Remember those #2 pencils you used to write letters to Santa when you were young? A mouse can squeeze through a hole as small as the width of that pencil! Your house could be full of tiny cracks and crevices that you don't even know about.
In order to prevent mice from invading your house, block any gaps and cracks along your foundation, around your utility pipes, and under your doors.
Mice are a common holiday theme, used for holiday decorations and treats. Don't be fooled by these cute, four-legged fur balls. They are a nuisance, and if left unattended, the invasion can spiral out of control. If you are feeling overwhelmed this holiday season, and the thought of handling a mouse infestation on your own seems daunting, Preferred Pest Control can help you immediately! Give us a call at (515) 276-7277 or contact us online.