“… not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” So begins one of the most famous poems of all time. Reading that line, you may not have thought you could have a mouse in your house, but you probably do!
For mice already in your house, seal all food products, clean your home thoroughly, and put away any pet food on the floor. During the cleaning process identify the areas where mice may have entered and lay mouse traps near them. If you continue to find more mice, call a professional exterminator.
Knowing you have a mouse in your house is the first step. Then you can learn how to rid these little rodents from the premises and find out ways to prevent giving them an invitation for a return visit!
1. Close areas where Mice Can Enter
After locating the areas where mice are getting into your house, take the appropriate actions. If they are coming from outside your home, set some safe traps around the premises.
Make sure you don’t get traps that will attract small animals but are specifically meant to draw in mice.
If you have any holes in your walls, seal them up so they can’t get in. Check your garage and make sure there aren’t any places where they can enter and hide out.
2. Set Mouse Traps
There are easy-to-use, safe traps you can set up to get rid of a mouse in your house. Most are flat traps that use peanut butter to draw them in. Don’t put out any traps in areas near pets or others.
3. Keep Your Trash Sealed!
Keep outdoor trash cans closed and tightly sealed. The same for the trash receptacle in your bathroom and kitchen. Keep food off the counters and make sure all the food in the kitchen cabinets is tightly sealed. Keep pet bowls out and bring them off the floor when empty.
Make sure you sweep and mop your floors regularly to get rid of any bits of food that may have dropped.
4 Remove and destroy their nests
Make sure you put on plastic gloves when conducting any mouse prevention actions. Mice are spreaders of infectious diseases and contaminate anything they come in contact with.
Try to remove the nests from the mice in your home as soon as you are aware they are there. Once you locate them, safely remove them, disinfect the area, then keep checking to see if they haven’t created new ones.
If you find the entry way to the nest, consider placing some stainless steel mesh since mice can’t chew through it! You can put the mesh right over the gap until you can permanently fill it.
5. Use Your Cat To Help Remove Mice
If you already have a cat, you are ahead of the game! Now would be the perfect time to get one if you have been contemplating it.
If you don’t have one and have no interest in getting one, see if you have a friend or relative who can bring their cat over for a visit. They will easily and naturally seek a mouse out if there is one on the premises.
6. Drive Mice Out with Scents They Hate
Don’t let them get too comfortable. Mice, like many pests and rodents that invade our homes, have specific odors they dislike. Minty smells are almost always tops on the list of offensive scents and mice hate peppermint, eucalyptus, and spearmint.
The essential oils are fairly easy to obtain. Spritz some of these aromatics on cotton balls and put them where you think mice are hiding in your home.
You can view our full list of scents mice hate here!
7. Use Bait Stations
If you feel you tried everything, purchase some bait stations (we’ll go over our recommendations below.) All you have to do is put the bags filled with bait to attract the mice. They will gnaw through the bag, eat the bait, and then quietly end on their own.
You can then find out below how to remove them from your home or get an exterminator to deal with it.
However, I don’t recommend this method if you can help it. You should contact a professional before using bait stations as you don’t want the mouse to end somewhere in your home where you CAN’T find it.
If you’re finding that you have more than just a mouse or two in your house, you should contact a local pest control professional to come inspect your home!
Signs That You Have a Mouse in Your House
Mice make noise, which may be your first sign of something stirring in your house. However, there are other ways you can discover you have a little furry creature scurrying about.
Pay attention to the following signs.
The most likely place where you will find mouse droppings is near where they are eating or nesting. If they are fresh droppings, they will still look wet, but if they have been there for a while they will have dried out.
If there are fresh droppings (meaning in a frequently visited spot where you haven’t noticed them before), then you still have active mouse activity in your home. Check your counters in the kitchen and the bathroom, in kitchen cupboards near food items, and on windowsills. You can also find them under sinks and in areas where they are nesting.
Marks Where They Have Gnawed
Gnaw marks are another obvious sign you have mice in your home. They are known to gnaw on food packages especially, but they like to latch onto electrical wiring as well. Fresh gnaw marks, which are lighter in color, mean you have a mouse hiding somewhere.
If you find larger gnaw marks, you may have a rat infestation instead, so monitor these signs.
You can view our guide on where mice go during the day in order to track down where they may be!
Scratching, Squeaking, and Scampering Sounds
You may hear all the sounds listed above or you may hear none of them. The scratching sounds you may hear at night when they are more active. They like to hide out in walls where they can get in if there is an opening, and usually scratch when making nests and searching for food.
Yes, mice squeak, and it’s pretty easy to identify. It is also how they stay in touch with each other. If it sounds like someone stepped on a squeak toy, start looking around to see where the sounds are coming from. If you find the area, don’t be surprised to hear scampering sounds as they become more active.
You can learn more about the sounds and noises that mice make here!
Something Smells Bad
There are a couple of distinct odors you may experience if you have a mouse in your home. First, these little rodents have a scent all to themselves, a sort of musky smell. If you walk into your home one day and you smell something different in the air, it could be a mouse.
They also are not potty-trained, so they will urinate wherever they want. The urine smell, like many animals’ urine, leans towards smelling like ammonia.
The last smell you may notice is the odor of a dead mouse. If you can get the mouse out of your home, you will luckily skip this step. However, if the mouse becomes trapped in your home, you will know soon enough if it is dead or alive. It is a smell you will never forget.
Nests Are A Sure Sign Of Mice
Most of us have seen pretty little bird nests made straight from items found in nature–twigs, sticks, and leaves. Mice make their nests in a similar fashion, but your best bet is to determine if you have an infestation or not right away.
The last thing you want is a mouse who feels right at home in your home and wants to raise a family there. They reproduce often, at least a couple of times a year, and can have up to 15 little ones at a time.
They make their nests out of trash, garbage, and soft pieces of clothing they may find lying around. These nests are usually carefully hidden but should be removed as soon as you find them.
Their Own Little Food Court
While they love to gnaw on packages containing food, it is what is inside the package they are most interested in. They can consume large quantities of food for such small animals.
According to the Indiana Department of Health, the average mouse generally eats up to 3 grams of food every day!
What do mice like to eat? Pretty much the same kinds of food we like, which is why they will keep frequenting the same kitchen cabinets once they discover their stash.
Favorite foods for mice include cheese, butter, bacon, cereals, fruit, and candy. If you find packages that look as if a mouse has been nibbling on them, get rid of them right away.
It’s very important to keep mice away
Markings on the Wall
Mice are creatures of habit. They like to stay close to the wall when they travel around your home. When they move about like this, their fur rubs against the wall and sometimes the baseboard. If you see markings on your wall that look like dirt, chances are they are from a mouse in your house.
All the dirt, food, even urine, and droppings usually find their way onto the fur of a mouse. If you think the markings on your wall are from a mouse, clean the wall immediately. Use a light spray to remove the dirt, but not your paint. Follow up with a disinfectant, like Lysol, to kill germs.
They Have Left Tracks
If you see a trail of footprints, you can check to see if you still have a mouse in your house. More importantly, you can determine if you have a mouse or a rat by confirming the tracks.
Sprinkle the tracks lightly with talcum powder. Check back in a day or two. If the tracks are small, you have a mouse; if the footprints are larger, it looks like you have a rat – yay!
Your Pets Are Acting Strange
Pet owners know all of their pet’s little quirks. Each type has its little idiosyncrasies, but its owners can still tell immediately if their cat or dog is acting out of the ordinary.
Dogs may gravitate to the area where a mouse is hiding out. Cats, however, are committed to finding the culprit and usually won’t rest until they do. Chances are when your cat finds the mouse, it will make a weird guttural sound and the mouse will no longer be alive.
They will drop the mouse off at your feet as if it is a Christmas gift they didn’t have time to wrap. But gift it is and they are mighty proud of their offering (can you tell I am a cat owner?).
Seek a Professional
If your mouse infestation gets out of control or you feel like it is too much for you to handle, seek the help of a trained professional. Try not to wait until the situation gets out of control before you reach out.
There are companies that deal with mice and rat situations every day, and they already have all the tools to take on your situation safely and quickly.
How Do You Dispose of a Mouse (and the smell)
So you have been successful in finding the mouse in your house -yay! But now you are left with the daunting task of disposing of the invader. Ew! No worries, the California Department of Public Health has posted an informative hands-on video of exactly what you need to do.
To get rid of the smell left by a mouse, you have several options:
- Use a regular commercial disinfectant like Lysol
- Place small dishes of vinegar around the house and the odor will be absorbed naturally.
- You can use the same method using baking soda, another natural odor absorber.
- Take a spray bottle and mix water with bleach according to product specifications. Spray where needed.
What You Can Do to Keep Mice from Coming Back to Your Home
There are things you can do to discourage a return visit once your home is mouse-free.
- Keep food off the counters in your kitchen.
- Don’t leave pet food out all day.
- Put cotton balls drenched in peppermint oil around your home. You can also use spearmint oil or eucalyptus to keep mice away.
- Seal any holes in walls once you know you no longer have mice.
- Have regular inspections by an exterminator.
You can also check out Grandpa Gus’s Extra-Strength Mouse Repellent if you want to have a specific ready to use product thats a bit easier! The spray uses peppermint and cinnamon oils to keep mice from nesting in your home and does it with a scented aroma.
It also leaves a fresh smell as well as eliminating the foul odor of mice. It comes with 10 pouches, so you can just open them and put them where needed.
In addition, having a trained professional check your home regularly means they will catch any signs you may have missed the first time. They can correct any problem areas that you may not have even been aware of.
One visit will pay for itself right away in time and money spent on dealing with a mouse infestation!
The first time you find a mouse in your home, it will probably shock you. With the information and resources provided here, you will be able to do everything you can to prevent another visit. At the very least, you will know what to do if they come back again.
Mohr, C. O., & Stumpf, W. A. (1964). RELATION OF TICK AND CHIGGER INFESTATIONS TO HOME AREAS OF CALIFORNIA MEADOW MICE. Journal of Medical Entomology, 1, 73–77.
Phipatanakul, W., Eggleston, P. A., Wright, E. C., & Wood, R. A. (2000). Mouse allergen. I. The prevalence of mouse allergen in inner-city homes. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 106(6), 1070–1074.
Sharpe, K., Shulz, J., & Koplinka-Loehr, C. (2000). Evict and Exile Mice from your Home. Ecommons.cornell.edu.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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