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DECEMBER 09 2021 /
You’re sitting at your kitchen counter, enjoying your first cup of coffee for the day when a movement catches your eye.
You glance towards your pantry and see a small, dark object scurry around the corner. Although you only saw it for a second or two, its furry body and long tail clue you into its identity.
You have a mouse in your house, and suddenly that coffee doesn’t taste so good.
A million thoughts run through your head, including how you’re going to catch that tiny intruder and if you’ll be able to figure out what it was eating in the pantry.
But one question looms larger than the others: Does one mouse in your Maryland home mean you have an infestation? Let's answer that
Adult house mice range in size from about the width of a dollar bill to about the width of a standard business envelope.
When you add in their tail length, they usually double in length. House mice have pointed noses and a lot of whiskers. They have large, hairy ears and dark eyes.
It would be nice if mice were only able to get into Maryland homes that had big welcome signs put out for them, along with those arched holes in the walls that you see in cartoons like Cinderella.
Unfortunately, mice need far less to be enticed into your home, and you’d be surprised by how easily they can find a way inside.
Although mice may not seem large compared to most animals, they’re big enough that you’d assume they’d need to find a decent-sized opening in your house to get inside.
As long as you don’t have any big holes in your siding, your house is probably safe, right? Not exactly.
Mice only need an opening the size of a dime to be able to squeeze themselves through to access your home.
Even if you’ve walked around looking for holes and haven’t seen any of that size, your house still isn’t in the clear. Mice can find a smaller opening, crack, or weak area, and chew away at it until it’s large enough for them to squeeze through.
To protect your house from mice making their way inside, you must seal up the weak areas or that could potentially allow entrance to mice.
To do this, perform an inspection of the outside of your house. Make a note of any cracks, gaps, or holes you find. These could be in the foundation, siding, windows or window screens, doors or door screens, roof shingles, eaves, or soffits.
If you found problems in some of the harder to reach areas, you may need professional help to fix them. Other areas can be fixed on your own by taking the following measures:
Seal all cracks and gaps with steel wool and caulk.
Fix or replace window and door screens that have holes or tears.
Seal downspout openings with steel mesh.
Cap your chimney.
Equally important as knowing how mice get into your house is knowing why mice get into your house.
By eliminating as many of the things that attract mice to your house as possible, you can reduce your chances of ending up with a mouse infestation.
Mice are most likely to try to get into your house in the fall or winter.
In spring and summer, the weather is nice, and food and water supplies are plentiful outside, so they have no need to be inside.
Once fall arrives, temperatures start to drop, food supplies dwindle, and eventually, water supplies begin to freeze over. Mice need to look for a place with warm shelter, food, and water to survive the winter. Maryland houses provide all three of these essentials.
Although you can’t fully eliminate any of the three essentials from your house (after all, they’re essential for your survival too!), you can make them less accessible to mice.
Outside, remove food sources, such as bird or pet food. Keep garbage bins stored away from your house and make sure they have securely fitting lids.
Remove water sources as well. Obvious ones like pet dishes or bird baths are easy to get rid of but don’t forget less obvious ones, like clogged gutters or children’s toys where rainwater might collect.
Finally, eliminate hiding areas close to your house.
Mice are less likely to come near your house if they have to get there by being exposed for too long.
By keeping grass trimmed short, removing rock walls, and keeping shrubbery and gardens well-groomed, mice will be less likely to get close enough to your house to look for a way inside.
There are also preventative measures you can take inside your house.
Although you can’t remove the warm shelter, you can reduce areas of clutter in your house where mice might be tempted to hide or nest. Quiet areas of your home, such as attics or basements, are especially vulnerable to mice infestations.
Mice will need food when they get into your house, so make it difficult for them to access.
Don’t leave food out on the counter. Put pantry items that come in bags or cardboard boxes into hard-sided, airtight containers. Clean out your pantry and cupboards frequently to ensure there are no spills. Clean up after every meal, wiping down countertops and washing dirty dishes.
Finally, make sure that you don’t have any water leaks or excess humidity in your house. Check under sinks for leaks, fix drippy faucets, and ensure good ventilation in bathrooms.
If mice quietly lived in a little corner of your attic over the winter, then moved out once the weather warmed up, you might not have to be concerned about them.
Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from what actually happens. Mice are incredibly destructive, and they cause many problems when they move into your house.
First, their chewing causes a lot of problems. Mice are rodents, and one of the things that classify a rodent is that their front teeth never stop growing. To keep these teeth at a manageable length, mice have to constantly chew on things to wear them down.
When they get into your house, mice will immediately start to chew on the things they find in your house. Although in a best-case scenario, they may simply find a box with some belongings you’ve stowed away, this is rarely where it ends.
Typically, mice will chew through drywall, then use insulation as nesting material. They’ll chew through wiring, which not only will cause electrical problems but can also be a fire hazard.
They can chew on pipes and ductwork, causing water leaks and problems with your heating and cooling systems.
Water leaks can also result in the development of mold, which can cause respiratory problems.
Mice can also directly cause major health problems for the people in your house. Wherever they travel around your house, they leave contaminated droppings behind.
This waste contaminates the surfaces they touch, including food preparation areas and even your food itself. Salmonellosis and rat-bite fever are just two of the illnesses you can contract from contaminated food and surfaces.
If you come into close contact with a mouse, you could end up getting scratched or bitten. This could result in the transmission of rat-bite fever or even bubonic plague.
Finally, if particles of urine, saliva, or feces become airborne, you can end up with Hantavirus, which is deadly in certain circumstances.
Now we come to the question that brought you here. If you see one mouse in your Maryland house, does it mean you have an infestation?
In theory, it is possible for you to see a mouse when it first gets into your house and have it be the only one there. In this ideal situation, you could catch the one mouse and your problem would be over.
In reality, the chance of there only being one mouse in your house is very small.
Mice live in family groups that are made up of one dominant male, one or two females, and their young. When a mouse gets into your house, it will not move in alone.
Unfortunately, the problems don’t stop there. Mice are incredibly prolific. Female mice can breed up to ten times per year, giving birth to around six pups with each litter.
Furthermore, each female baby is capable of reproduction just six weeks after birth. That means that even if only a couple of mice get into your house, their family will quickly grow.
So how can you tell if your house has an infestation? Of course, seeing a mouse is a sure sign that mice have gotten into your house.
However, mice are good at hiding and you’re much more likely to find other signs of their presence.
Mice leave droppings everywhere they go. Mice droppings are small, dark, and shaped like a grain of rice. You’re likely to find them in cupboards, cabinets, and on your countertops.
If you start finding jagged holes in the packaging of your food items, a mouse may have put them there.
Noises. If you hear scratching or squeaking sounds inside your walls or ceilings, it’s a sign of a mouse (or another rodent) infestation.
Mice stick close to the walls when out in the open. As they run around, they leave greasy marks on the walls with their bodies. If you find these marks on your walls, it’s a sign of an infestation.
If you find a nest made out of various items and tucked into an out of the way location, it’s a sure sign of a mouse infestation.
Getting rid of a mouse infestation on your own is no easy task and it typically leads to more problems.
First, there’s a good chance of getting injured in the process. Second, DIY methods of mouse control rarely eliminate the entire infestation.
You may temporarily reduce their numbers, but there will still be mice present.
Instead, you need comprehensive rodent control from American Pest. Our five-part rodent control process has been developed to safely and efficiently eliminate the mice in your house.
Our professional service technicians are experts at identifying where the mice are in your house and how they’re getting inside.
We’ll seal the entry points they’re using to get in, set bait stations in appropriate locations, use other rodent control methods where necessary, and provide the follow-up services necessary to ensure the entire infestation has been eliminated.
With American Pest, you get proven mouse control provided by experts in the field. We’ll stick with you through every step of the process, and we won’t stop working until your infestation is completely gone.
Contact us to schedule your inspection.