Mice

Identification

  • Colour Brown or grey
  • Size From 150 mm to 170 mm long, including tail.
  • Description Have oversized ears relative to body size, and a long tail.

General Facts

Prevalent throughout much of the world, especially in areas across North America, mice are woodland mammals characterized by their small size and general pest status. While mice prefer forested areas, they often take refuge and reside in manmade structures. The burrowing and foraging tendencies of mice often results in damaged property and the contamination of food and objects throughout infested homes. The two most common species of mice found in Canada include deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) and house mice (Mus musculus).

Appearance

House mice often appear brown or grey, with lighter colouring on the underside of the body. Deer mice also possess brown or grey coats, but with white bellies and tail bottoms. Both species feature oversized ears relative to body size, which typically runs between 150mm and 170mm in length. Much of the body length comes from the characteristic tail each mouse possesses. The tail of the house mouse usually doubles the length of the body, while the tail of the deer mouse represents less than half of the overall body length. Deer mice also display white colouration in the feet, which differs from the pinkish-buff colours that appear on the feet of house mice.

Habitat

Mice prefer environments that allow for total concealment. Outdoors, the rodents typically hide in underbrush or other dense vegetation, such as tall grasses, shrubs, and vines. Most notably, mice tend to live in close proximity to humans and often find refuge in buildings, including homes, businesses, industrial factories and warehouses, and other structures like dog houses, sheds, barns, or lawn ornamentations. Pastures, grassy fields, and farmland represent typical habitats of mice in the wild, while mice in populated areas tend to live near readily available food sources away from the threats of predators.

Diet

Like humans, mice are omnivorous and feed on a variety of food materials such as insects, fruits, nuts, seeds, and food prepared or discarded by humans. The mammals also notoriously chew or bite through inorganic and typically indigestible materials, such as books, plastics, drywall, and even aluminum cans. Each mouse feeds multiple times a day, with some mice partaking in upwards of 20 or 30 meals over a 24-hour period.

Life Cycle/Reproduction

As mammals, mice give birth to live young after completing a period of gestation, which typically lasts around 20 days. Mice produce offspring in litters of five to six babies. A typical deer mouse or house mouse may produce up to a dozen litters per year. Newborns reach sexual maturity after about a month for females and two months for males. The mating season often lasts from early summer to late fall; however, indoors, mice may breed year-round. The mammals generally live no more than a year.

Problems Caused by Mice

One of the main problems caused by mice includes the overgrowth and rampant surges in colony sizes if left unchecked. The rapid maturation of baby mice into full-grown adults allows the mammal to reproduce at alarming rates, which may result in mice overrunning infested areas. Chewing, biting, and burrowing, which are typical behaviours of both deer mice and house mice, often lead to property damage and food contamination. Mouse feces and urine, in addition to the tracks of detritus the rodents regularly leave behind, serve as the primary means of contaminating surfaces in living areas.

House mice can transmit diseases such as murine typhus, tularemia, lymphocytic chorio-meningitis, and others. Small openings in walls may be progressively widened as the mice begin to multiply and increase activity. As if that is not incentive enough, mice can also damage property by chewing through common building materials such as insulation, siding, and wallboards.

Detection

A visual confirmation of mice in a home or business, such as the discovery of the nest, droppings, or live mice, generally signals an infestation. Homeowners may also come upon scratched, shredded, or torn possessions punctuated with bite or claw marks. Occasionally, mice may make noise from behind the walls or within the framework of a standing structure. Furthermore, due to the nocturnal nature of mice, witnessing mouse activity during the day is generally indicative of a major infestation.

Mice in the Attic

Adapted to live near humans, mice can take shelter inside attics. These pests squeeze through dime-sized openings in foundations and outer walls, although gaps around doors, windows, vents, and pipes are also common entry points. Mice in attics enjoy the insulation for nesting and an out-of-the-way place to give birth. Attics also usually provide access to hollow walls, which can lead into other areas of the house.

Having mice in the attic is a headache for homeowners. Eating between 15 and 20 times each day, these pests often find their way from attics into kitchens to feed. Mice can be reservoirs and transmitters of pathogens such as Salmonella and other harmful bacteria, therefore eating mice contaminated food items can result in food poisoning. These pests are also known for their constant gnawing on wood, plastic, and wiring. In addition to costly repairs, frayed wires can create fire hazards. When mice infestations are heavy, running, scratching and fighting noises can often be heard and can be unsettling to owners.

Potential urine and dropping build-ups in attics can be a health hazard as aerosolized mouse droppings and urine may carry pathogens such as hantavirus, which when inhaled can cause respiratory disease. Call the pest control experts at Orkin Canada for a safe and professional solution to problems with mouse infestations.

Mice in the House

Drawn to homes during bouts of cold or wet weather, mice invade buildings most frequently during fall and winter. The pests are likely to infest houses when scavenging for something to eat, such as grains, seeds, and sugary goods. When rodents discover sources of food, like cupboards and pantries, they often build permanent nests indoors. Unfortunately for homeowners, these small pests are quite capable of squeezing through tiny cracks to get indoors. Mice in homes typically enter at ground level, where they take advantage of uneven or breached door frames, walls, and siding.

Due to their versatile diets, mice will eat most food products found in kitchens and pantries. In houses mice are likely to contaminate both stored goods and food preparation counters as a result. Common diseases spread through rodent droppings, urine, and hair during this process include Hantavirus and salmonellosis.

Despite these rodents’ small size, they are capable of causing significant destruction. Mice gnaw on objects to wear down their large front teeth, damaging furniture and structural wood. The pests are also known to ruin insulation, paper, and clothing. To avoid potential damage or the spread of infection, look to rodent control and removal experts. Orkin is staffed with knowledgeable employees that have the proper training to eliminate and prevent mice in the home.

Mice in Walls

Mice infestations are easily detected through chirping, squeaking, scampering, or gnawing sounds coming from within walls. These noises often get louder during evening hours, when the home is quiet and mice begin to forage for food. Additional signs of mice in walls include chewed walls and furniture, missing food, and droppings strewn about the house. Very prolific breeders, mice also create nests out of virtually any material, shredding insulation, clothing, paper, and other household goods.

Once inside homes, mice can contaminate food that they come in contact with through their feces and urine. Though mainly associated with deer mice, they are capable of passing along Hantavirus through their saliva and excrement, which can lead to serious illness. The disease begins with flu-like symptoms including fever, sore muscles, headache, nausea, and shortness of breath. In addition to carrying viruses, rodents may be infested with mites, fleas or ticks, which can also transmit disease causing pathogens. Having even one mouse in the wall can quickly lead to the spread of these parasites.

Since mice can squeeze through extremely small holes, limiting their entry is difficult. Start by sealing cracks in foundations or gaps around vents and pipes. Controlling mice can be challenging due to the pests’ caution, keen sense of smell, and good memory. Therefore, it can require strategic control methods executed by a trained pest control professional to get rid of mice in the wall. The professionals at Orkin Canada control and manage mice infestations with specialized tools and expert knowledge, effectively eliminating mice from behind and within walls.

Mouse Diseases

Mice, the most abundant rodents in Canada, rightfully cause concern when they infest homes. As they migrate regularly between buildings and fields, the pests’ transient behaviour makes them the perfect reservoir for pathogens such as Hantavirus and Salmonella.

These rodents sneak into homes and businesses through small holes in exterior walls, quickly establishing their newfound residence. Once inside, mice diseases are spread freely in the pests’ waste as they scavenge for food, which often contaminates entire pantries and cupboards in the process.

Symptoms of Mouse Diseases

Salmonellosis, a type of bacterial food poisoning, is quite an unpleasant experience, but its symptoms pass fairly quickly. On the other hand, catching Hantavirus can be much more severe and even lead to a lethal respiratory ailment.

This disease is spread by the saliva and urine of mice as well as through airborne particles of their dried droppings. Due to the threats posed merely by their presence, mouse infestations should be addressed the moment signs of intrusion appear.

To avoid mouse diseases and other risks, contact the experts at Orkin Canada for a comprehensive pest management plan.

Mouse Droppings

Norway rat, roof rat and the house mouse are the main commensal rodents that infest Canadian homes. One way to be sure which species is invading is to correctly identify their droppings. Mouse droppings are usually rod shaped, about 3 to 6 mm in length with pointed ends. Fresh droppings are soft and moist while old droppings are dry and hard. Larger rodents like rats produce droppings that are much greater in length and can have either blunt or pointed ends.

Problems Caused by Mouse Droppings

From gnawing on electrical wires to spreading mites, ticks and fleas throughout the house, mice can create many issues indoors. Mouse droppings are no different, as they can contaminate food, and in some cases, bring disease. Mostly found in deer mouse feces, Hantavirus may cause a serious lung disease in humans, called hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. While rare, the virus can be passed to humans when accidentally inhaled aerosolized mouse droppings found in food or around the home.

Removal

Noticing mouse droppings along baseboards, in attics, or around pantries and kitchens is a sure sign of infestation. Able to enter through even the smallest of cracks, these rodents can be difficult to get rid of once inside. Store-bought traps and certain exclusion methods can assist in catching mice, but require some knowledge of the pests’ habits and behaviour to be truly effective. In order to eliminate mice from the home, contact the pest management professionals at Orkin Canada.

Prevention Tips

Basic sanitation often proves to be the best way to curb or eradicate mouse infestations. Patching holes in walls, eliminating entry points in buildings and homes, and placing traps also prove effective in certain circumstances. Infestations already underway may require a comprehensive approach of trapping and baiting. In order to safely and fully eliminate mouse infestations, home and business owners should seek the services of a local pest control specialist.

Options for Repelling Mice

House mice are some of the most common household pests. Because of this, many retail products promise to both prevent and control infestations. Homeowners may choose anything from chemical mouse repellents to homemade remedies, though results vary depending on the control method.

Mouse Deterrents

The best way to avoid dealing with rodent pests is to prevent their entry. Residents can deter mice by cutting off sources of food and shelter. Seal trash bins, use rodent-proof containers, and regularly clean up crumbs to make it harder for mice to find resources.

Modifying habitats is another great mouse deterrent. Installing vent caps, closing foundation cracks, and trimming overgrown plants around homes should keep the pests from getting inside.

Mouse Repellents

These deterrents can help control small groups of mice. Since chemicals are only effective and safe when used correctly, many people like to try natural mouse repellents. Some of the most common include:

  • Mothballs: Mice dislike the smell of mothballs. However, they are toxic to children and pets, so placing them around the house can be hazardous.
  • Dryer Sheets: These have a similar effect to mothballs but have the advantage of fitting into small cracks where mice are likely to enter homes.
  • Peppermint Oil: Some people believe cotton balls soaked in this essential oil make homes smell repulsive to the pests.

Even though natural mouse repellents are less risky, their effectiveness is questionable. Many of the most popular methods have little evidence to back up their claims. Residents must also replace or reapply scent-based repellents often, which can be time consuming and expensive.

Mouse Traps

There are seemingly endless variations on the common mouse trap, but most end with the same unwanted task of handling a dead mouse. The classic trap uses a spring-loaded mechanism attached to a small wooden board to snap down on the neck of the pest. Other types use adhesives to immobilize the mouse when it walks across the trap’s surface.

Disease Risks

Coming into contact with rodents, dead or alive, is something to be avoided. Mice are known carriers of a large number of diseases, including Hantavirus, tularemia, hemorrhagic fever, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, plague, and rat-bite fever.

Many of these can be spread through bacteria that remain in their fur after death, so homeowners should be wary of emptying mouse traps. The pests are also hosts to parasites like fleas, ticks, and lice, which come with their own health risks.

A Better Mouse Trap

There are more sanitary mouse traps that generally have a chamber with bait inside and a trap door that swings shut, locking the pest within. While these single-use configurations eliminate the problem of having to touch the dead mouse, they create new difficulties by being wasteful and expensive.

The best and safest way to go about trapping mice is to let someone else handle it. The pest removal experts at Orkin Canada can rid homes and businesses of mice and take the proper steps to prevent them from returning.

 

Why do I have mice?

The two most common species of mice in Canada are deer mice and house mice. When they invade your home they are seeking food, water, and warmth, often due to falling temperatures as winter approaches.

In the wild, some mice like to burrow underground, while others live in nests on the surface. House mice prefer forested areas, pastures, grassy fields, and farmland, hiding in underbrush or other dense vegetation, such as tall grasses, shrubs, and vines.

However, in populated areas, mice like to live near humans. This gives them reliable food and water, warm shelter, and protection from predators. They often invade homes and businesses to build their nests in dark secluded places like wall voids, attics, pantries, and garages.

Once inside, the mice like to raid any food stores available.

House mice feed on a huge array of food sources, including insects, fruits, nuts, seeds, garbage, food scraps, and pantry goods, rice, crackers, and cereal, eating up to 20 meals a day.

Deer mice prefer small insects like beetles, earthworms, snails, seeds, fruit, and fungi. They are attracted to homes with plenty of insects or accessible pantry foods.

How worried should I be about mice?

Mouse feces and urine, as well as the tracks of detritus the rodents regularly leave behind, contaminate surfaces in living areas.

Deer mice can carry and transmit Hantavirus, a rare respiratory disease, in their saliva, urine, and faeces. This disease can be fatal in humans and there is no known cure. Even small particles of deer mouse waste in the air can spread the disease.

In general, mice contaminate about 10 times as much food as they actually eat. In doing so, house mice can transmit diseases such as salmonellosis, which causes diarrhea, fever, and vomiting, and parasites like fleas and mites, which can cause dermatitis.

Mice can also chew or bite through inorganic and normally indigestible materials, such as books, plastics, aluminum cans, drywall, insulation, siding, and wallboards, causing damage to products, property, and the building’s structural integrity.

Deer mice store food in holes near their nests and can create food caches in basements, attics, and crawl spaces. As the mice multiply and increase activity, small openings in nearby walls may be progressively widened.

Mice can also gnaw through electrical wiring, causing power outages in buildings, provoking electrical fires, and forcing expensive repairs.

A mouse infestation can destroy businesses like restaurants, property management, and hotels, ruining their reputations, contaminating and damaging their food and facilities, and affecting their ability to operate, all with potentially major financial consequences.

But eradicating a mouse infestation alone can be challenging due to the sheer rate at which these pests breed. House mice can give birth to litters of six young mice up to 12 times every year. Deer mice can have litters of up to 12 young mice four times a year.

Newborns reach sexual maturity after a month or two. In the wild, the mating season is from early summer to fall, but indoors, mice breed all year round, meaning that a mouse infestation can quickly get completely out of control if left unchecked.

Working alone with snap or glue traps, you may be able to catch and remove a few of the pests, but to stop mice from returning, you need a sanitation program, strategic landscaping, possibly even structural changes, and professional pest control services.

How can I prevent mice invading?

Check wiring for chew marks and gnawing, Check the walls for rubbing marks or holes, Look out for small, pellet-like droppings, Keep food preparation areas clean, Clean up spills and crumbs immediately, Remove food sources, including bird feeders, Clean and rotate dumpsters regularly, Make sure trash cans are covered tightly, Trim back vegetation from building exterior, Seal any cracks or holes with caulk or foam, Fix leaky soda or ice machines and HVAC units, Remove any standing water outside, Don’t leave doors open for a long time, Install weather strips around doors and windows

Do mice hibernate?

Mice do not hibernate in winter, but rather retreat to nests to avoid low temperatures. Houses are the perfect shelter from the cold, as they offer plenty of hidden areas, heat, and food. Vents and other openings into basements and attics give the pests easy access to nesting spots.

What is the difference between a deer mouse and a house mouse?

Deer mice have brown or grey fur with a white underbelly and feet. A deer mouse’s tail is about the same length as its small body, and its hind legs are longer than those in the front. These pests have larger eyes and ears than house mice, which is a good way to tell the two rodents apart.

Most house mice are grey in colour, but some have brown shading around their backs or undersides. They are about 8 cm in length with long, semi-naked tails and short hind feet.

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