The three most common species of mice likely to create pest pressures for property owners are the house mouse (Mus musculus), the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) and the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus).
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 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.
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.
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 from gnawing and scratching within walls or attics are also signs of an infection.
Odors from a dead mouse or urine and fecal deposit are a very unpleasant indicator of a mouse infestation.
How SHS Pest Control Treats For Mice
Almost all mice problems require the use of an Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) approach. As mentioned above, the house mouse, deer mouse and white-footed mouse have somewhat different habitats and behaviors. Therefore, the first thing your SHS pest management professional (PMP) will do is correctly identify the mouse pest and develop a treatment plan that is effective and efficient for the particular species causing the problems. Probably the most important factor to consider is whether the pest mice are living inside or outside the structure and where they are going in order to feed. Knowing this will help your PMP design an effective treatment plan. Once a treatment plan is prepared, the SHS customer is educated about what the PMP will do and how the actions will affect the mouse population.
Depending on your specific situation, the SHS PMP will employ both non-chemical and chemical methods. Non-chemical methods are not only effective, but also result in the need to use fewer chemical methods to achieve control. Some effective non-chemical control procedures your PMP will recommend include:
1. Exclusion and sealing off sites that allow mice to enter a structure. Your PMP will seal openings greater than ¼-inch using screen, flashing, heavy-duty sealants and other exclusion materials or recommend a contractor for bigger repairs. Keeping mice out of the structure is not always a simple project; however, exclusion is the single, best long-term way to deal with mice problems.
2. Your PMP 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 PMP will recommend removing vegetation, debris or clutter that creates hiding places mice can use as harborage sites.
3. Many times your PMP’s treatment plan will include using traps and other mechanical devices to kill or remove mice.
Your PMP may also elect to use chemical products, such as rodent baits, that are formulated to kill mice. While baits are very effective, caution must be exercised to ensure that baits are properly placed and the instructions on the product’s label are strictly followed. One of the more common techniques for 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 keep in mind – don’t procrastinate when you see signs of a mouse problem. The female house mouse is a very prolific animal. So, if you wait too long to start control measures, a few of them can quickly become a large infestation.