Are There Mice In Your Walls Or Ceilings?

Last Updated: July 3, 2024

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It has long been accepted that mice live in hidden areas of our homes. While they may not have ornately decorated spaces and doors cut into baseboards as children’s cartoons have taught us, it is reasonable to assume that mice are already in many buildings. Mice, of course, are not uniform in size but they can squeeze through surprisingly small holes to reach spaces that interest them.

Few buildings are sealed environments and there are often points of access that allow mice to enter and freely travel in walls and ceilings.

Where Do Mice Hide?

Mice generally enter buildings while looking for a place to shelter from heat or cold. Once inside they will stay in their nests during the day and venture out at night or when the house is quiet in search of food. They will commonly build a nest inside walls from bits of clothing, paper, tissues and/or cardboard or utilize the insulation in an attic space for ready-made bedding.

Mice prefer dark spaces for nesting and could also be under furniture or inside cabinets and closets.

What To Look And Listen For In Your Walls And Ceilings

Many people learn that they have mice in their homes when it is discovered that some packaged food has been surreptitiously sampled. As mice are likely to locate ready sources of food, kitchen cupboards and pantries are a good place to start a more proactive approach to determining if you have an unwanted visitor.

  • Look for gnawed damage to wood, perhaps where plumbing lines rise through the floors from the basement. Holes in drywall and baseboards may show signs of damage from mice gnawing as they can quickly increase the size of any hole that is too small for them to fit through.
  • Droppings are a good indicator of a mouse infestation. Mouse droppings are brown or black and look like small seeds. A cluster of droppings in one location could often indicate a nearby hole that is used frequently.
  • A distinct smell can often be detected in areas where mice are nesting or frequently visit and can be a good guide for locating where they are hiding. Mice are incontinent and will urinate and defecate while on the move throughout your home.
  • During the quiet of night mice can sometimes be heard scurrying in walls and attic spaces. Listen for squeaking or the sounds of chewing. Mice will chew on wood, drywall, plaster, and wiring and those sounds can help you to locate them.

How Do Mice Get Into Walls And Ceilings?

As mice can fit into very small passages it can be difficult to determine just how they are getting in. Mice are excellent climbers and can travel up and down framing inside walls using holes drilled for plumbing and electrical wiring to enter and exit the wall space. This can allow them to move quickly and easily from a small hole in a basement, up through the walls, and into an attic space.

Some common access points for mice are:

  • Entry points for utilities like gas, hydro, and air conditioning lines.
  • Small gaps left between the bottom row of bricks on an exterior wall called Weep Vents.
  • Air ducts for fresh air circulation or venting of clothes dryers or furnaces.
  • Roof vents and chimney pipes
  • Gaps in door and window frames
  • Small spaces between siding panels on exterior walls
  • The underside of flooring is often exposed to the ground in homes without basements and accessible via crawl spaces.

How To Get Rid Of Mice From Your Walls And Ceilings

If you have determined that mice are living in your walls or ceilings it is important to get them back outside. Mice can carry disease and even other pests like fleas. Given sufficient time mice can do considerable damage due to their tendency to chew on many common construction materials. Damage can be done to walls, floors, and ceilings as well as electrical cabling causing cosmetic damage and potentially causing serious issues.

It is important to locate as many ways mice could gain access to your home as possible. Without closing these routes off getting rid of the mice will serve little purpose.

  • Mouse traps come in many different forms from spring traps, adhesive traps, and live traps.
  • Baiting traps with fragrant foods that are enticing to mice can help lure them towards a trap. Raisins, dates, cheese, chocolate, and peanut butter are all effective.
  • Set traps near suspected access points or traffic areas such as crawl spaces and attics.
    Check these traps daily to keep them cleaned out and freshly set.
  • Mice tend to run along the edges of walls when running round. Place traps along the base of the wall to ensure mice get caught as they travel.

If you have any uncertainty about how to get rid of an infestation, contact your Orkin Pest Professional for effective solutions.

Related: 5 Easy Tips To Get Rid Of Mice In Your Attic

What About Rodenticide Products?

Placing rodenticide out for mice to find can be very tempting, especially for those who dislike the idea of checking and clearing traps. Some mice can be resistant to rodenticides, making their deployment of little use. Leaving these toxic baits  out can also pose a threat to family members. The same toxins that are effective against mice can be harmful to small children and pets.

A better solution is to contact your local Orkin Pro. Their training and experience will prove the most effective method of resolving your rodent problem.

What Happens If Mice Die In The Walls Or Ceiling?

Sometimes mice can get trapped inside a wall space or elsewhere in your home and starve to death. As a mouse decomposes this may cause a strong odor to spread throughout the home. Most mechanical traps ensure that the mice stay where they can be retrieved when they die. Using rodenticide to rid your home of mice can lead to them wandering away from where they ingested the poison and die in a location that they cannot be retrieved from.

When this occurs, it may become necessary to cut into a wall or ceiling to retrieve the mouse and dispose of it properly. This may require the assistance of a professional to avoid cutting too many holes or causing other damage that can be costly.

Your Orkin Rodent Control Professional has the training and experience to ensure pests are removed correctly and can offer insight on how to properly resolve an infestation without damage to your home.

How To Prevent Mice From Returning

  • Seal off as many of the entry points listed above as possible. Do not use plastic, rubber or wood as sealant. Mice can chew through these substances and create a new hole. Openings can be sealed with steel mesh, steel wool, or quick-drying cement as suitable.
  • Keep trees and shrubs trimmed back away from your home. Mice can climb and jump. Keeping plants trimmed back 18” or more can make it much more difficult for mice to gain access to your home.
  • Do not provide mice with access to food or water. Keep packaged foods in sealed containers. Sweep up crumbs and wipe up spilled water.
  • Mice can be discouraged from returning using rodent deterrents. Placing cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil near sealed entry points can help dissuade mice from trying to come back inside.

What If This Is All Too Much?

Locating the cause of an infestation, resolving it, and preventing it can be a daunting task. Not everyone has the tools or time to chase down mice and evict them from your home. If this feels like more than you can handle, then your Orkin Pros are here to help.

Remove pests from your home, and stop them from coming back

We work hard to listen, understand and assess your unique situation. Request a free, no-obligation estimate today for a customized pest program that fits your needs.

Request a Free Home Estimate
Request a Free Business Consultation
Alice Sinia Quality Assurance Manager – Regulatory/Lab Services

Reviewed by Alice Sinia, Ph.D., MSc on December 15 2023.

Master of Science Degree in Pest Management (MSc.) – Simon Fraser University; BSc. (Hons) Biological Sciences (Entomology & Parasitology) – Makerere University; Advanced Level Certificate of Education – Trinity College; Ph.D. – University of Guelph)

With more than 20 years of experience, Alice is responsible for the management of the Orkin Canada Quality Assurance Laboratory located at our GTA Training Centre. She performs analytical entomology (investigates product adulteration using biochemical and comparative tissue methods), and provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients nationwide. In addition, Alice also prepares scientific reports for Orkin Canada clients, updates Orkin management on any changes or updates to any government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. Alice also performs quality assurance account compliance audits.

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Remove pests from your home, and stop them from coming back

We work hard to listen, understand and assess your unique situation. Request a free, no-obligation estimate today for a customized pest program that fits your needs.

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