Although insects decline as the temperatures drop, warm-blooded pests like rodents are still as active as ever. When the outdoors become inhospitable, rodents travel in search of warmth, food, and shelter, which often leads them into our toasty, food-packed homes. The small and curious house mouse is a common invader of homes during the cooler months of the year.
The house mouse is a commensal rodent; “commensal” is Latin for “sharing a meal” or “sharing a table” which is an apt description of their relationship with humans. House mice are small and delicate, light brown or gray with a white belly, with a body length of about three to four inches, minus the tail.
The house mouse might be cute for a pest, but it causes more problems than most people realize. Mice, like all animals, need food. When a mouse chews a hole in a cereal box and eats less than a teaspoon of your favorite sugar-coated flakes, do you really think that you’ll eat the rest? Of course not – most food loss from mice is not due to food being eaten; they contaminate way more food than they consume.
Mice, like all animals, also need to expel waste. Simply put, mice pee. A lot. We are talking about several hundred microdroplets of urine per day, and they are peeing constantly, everywhere they go. In addition, they also have to excrete waste in the form of solids, and they aren’t shy about leaving roughly sixty fecal pellets around your house during a single day’s excursion.
Aside from the gross factor of urine and feces, mice also transmit diseases. While most mouse-to-human diseases are mild and resolve on their own without medical intervention, mice can carry and transmit Salmonella which causes food poisoning, sometimes severe enough to be life-threatening.
Is your house attractive to a mouse? You might be inadvertently luring them to your home with a seed-based bird feeder. Consider moving the feeder further away from your house or getting rid of it entirely if you’re having issues with mice. Seal up any holes, cracks, or crevices that might allow them access. A general rule of thumb is if you can fit a pencil into a hole, then a mouse can squeeze through.