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Posted 06/08/2020 in Rodents by Pest Control Approved

A Complete Guide to Mice

A Complete Guide to Mice

Have you ever come across an animal that eats more than 15 times a day, yet it isn’t overweight? Well, we call them mice. Mice belong to the category Rodentia, mammals with continuously growing front teeth. Mice commonly have small round furry bodies, tails longer than their bodies large ears, and tapered noses. They eat around 20 times a day, but their weight does not exceed 45g. They are usually found in shades of grey and brown. They are also excellent swimmers and climbers.

Types of Mice

The types of mice present around the world surpass the number of countries present on the globe. They are divided into families and subfamilies. The most common families of mice are:

House Mice

House mice are the most common type of mouse. They originated from Asia but have spread throughout the world. Their body length is between 3 and 3.74 inches with tails of an equal length. They have brown, grey, or black fur that is lighter on their belly. They are found in open grasslands but have no trouble living in man-made structures.

Deer mice  

Deer mice are native to North America. Deer mice are smaller than house mice, ranging from 5 to 8 inches long. They range in colour but always have a white belly and feet. They are usually found outdoors in deserts, grasslands, and bushes.

White-footed Mice

Difficult to distinguish from deer mice, White-footed mice are more at home in densely treed areas. Their body length is between 3 and 3.9 inches. Their ears are larger than house mice and are a golden-brown shade.

Spiny Pocket Mice

Spiny Pocket mice are about 3.25-inch long with their tails double their body length. They weigh between 13 to 18g. Their back has long sandy brown and their stomach is white. Upon close observation, orange, tan lines are visible on their sides. They are most common in California.

Difference between Mice and Rats

Many people confuse mice and rats. To the human eyes, they may look similar, but there are significant differences. Rats are usually larger than mice, ranging between 6.3 and 15.7 inches long. They weigh about 150 to 300g while mice weigh around 45g. Rats also have comparatively smaller ears. Tails of both the types of rodents are equal to or longer than their body length, but rats have thicker tails.

Their appetites are quite different. Rats eat between 15 to 30g of food daily whereas mice require about 3g. Their habitats, unlike their food requirements, are similar. Rats often live in orchards or wooded areas. Interestingly, in temperate countries, black rats live near coastal areas or on ships.   

Rats’ dropping vary, but in general, they are roughly 10 to 20mm long. The size of mice droppings is 1 to 2mm. Mice produce twice as many droppings as rats.

Facts about Mice

Before you dive into dealing with an infestation, you may want to learn more about mice and their habits.

Social Life

Mice are exceptionally friendly and social animals. They love and care for other mice. They exhibit a large range of facial expressions and become attached to their companions, human or mouse. They are often seen playing and sleeping together.


Mice communicate through high-frequency sounds that are usually inaudible to humans. Because of poor eyesight, they rely on smell, sound, and touch to communicate.


Mice are quite intelligent. They have good problem-solving abilities which helps them obtain food. They can sometimes even outsmart mouse traps. They are alert and responsive to any potential danger. Studies have shown that mice are amazing learners. You can even teach them various tricks. Not only that, but they can also learn to respond to their names.

Scientific Research

Mice have proven to be very beneficial for scientific research. According to the Foundation for Biomedical Research, rats and mice form about 95% of laboratory animals. Apart from their intelligence, there are many reasons for using rodents for scientific research. One of the most prominent reasons is convenience. 

Since mice are and rats are small, they do not need much space to live and can be easily kept in small labs. They do not require much maintenance. Their adaptive behavior allows them to easily adapt to the environment and fulfil their needs. Moreover, mice are inexpensive to acquire and can be purchased in bulk, which is economical. Their docile nature makes them easier to handle than many other animals.

These rodents’ short lifespan is also a desirable feature for scientific research. Scientists can verify their research results over several generations in a short period of time. One of the benefits of mice is their genetic resemblance to humans. Humans and mice share several biological characteristics that help scientists find answers to their questions.

Harmful Effects

Despite their usefulness for scientific research, mice can be quite harmful to humans. They can cause a multitude of problems including: 

  • Damage furniture, wires, and other solid objects by chewing and gnawing 
  • Carry contagious diseases like the plague, hanta virus, and salmonella
  • Infect household objects: Mice are excellent disease vectors
  • Mice poop and urine carry infectants that can be passed on via touch
  • Infected rodents pass diseases to pets like cats and dogs
  • Spread diseases across large distances as they travel for food

How Fast Do Mice Grow?

Mice have a quick life cycle and can rapidly increase in number. The females give birth within four weeks of pregnancy. A litter can have of up to 12 mouse pups. Female mice can give birth up to 10 times a year. Each litter can contain as many as 14 babies! 

Mice are born blind and bald. It takes them about two weeks to develop fur, sight, and mobility. In six weeks, the female mice become sexually mature and able to reproduce. Mice live for about one year outdoors and about 2 to 3 years indoors.  

How to Identify Mice Infestation?

Mice usually venture indoors during the winter season to look for food and shelter. They love leftover food and crumbs on the floor, counters, or surfaces. They prefer untidy areas where they can easily hide and make nests. If you meet these two criteria, there is a high chance that mice have already infested your house.  

Signs of Infestation

If you are not sure whether you have an infestation, then you can look for the following signs.

  • Gnaw Marks

The most common and prominent sign of mice is gnaw marks. You can spot them on different materials like clothes, food packages, or paper. You will also notice oily marks on the walls and surfaces wherever they travel. Recent gnaw marks are lighter in color and darken over time. Do notice the size of the gnaw marks. Large gnaw marks indicate the presence of rats while smaller ones are indicative of mice.  

  • Droppings

Mice produce about 80 droppings per day with a size range of about 1 to 2mm. Mice droppings can be identified by careful observation droppings. Caution: Avoid touching them with your bare hands. Mice droppings can contain dangerous bacteria and viruses. The droppings are clammy and dark when fresh but turn dry and gray when old. You can find them hidden under the sink or in the cupboard or along their paths of travel. These droppings are found in large quantities in nesting or feeding areas.

  • Tracks and Pathways

Mice generally follow the same pathway into and around your house. They select hidden and darkened paths so that nobody sees them moving. Lighting such pathways can help you spot their movement. You can also place a layer of flour or powder on potential pathways so they leave footprints. Their front feet have four toes and their back feet have five. This creates a particular pattern of footprints indicating their presence.

  • Odor

Mice use the smell of their urine to communicate. Their urine has the strong, musky smell of ammonia common to such substances. This odor is significantly perceptible in closed areas like cabinets, cupboards, drawers, etc. It can also be detected over their travel paths as it helps them navigate. An active infestation is quite detectable by this strong smell. Pets like cats and dogs can easily detect such odors and will lurk near the rodent territory.

  • Nests

Mice make their nests in enclosed areas like in unused drawers, false ceilings, wall or floor voids, and under kitchen appliances. They use whatever materials they can find to help them stay warm and comfortable like pieces of paper, vegetation, and fabric.  

Mice try to build their nests near food sources. So, if you spot a mouse in your house, then his family is probably hiding nearby.

How to Get Rid of Mice?

Most people will want to quickly get rid of mice. Below are some cost-effective and convenient ways to control a mouse infestation. These methods are tried and true, having been used for many years.

1. Cease the Entry Points

The first and foremost thing to do is find potential entry points and block them. Mice have super flexible bodies and soft skin that enable them to pass through holes as small as a quarter inch. If a pencil can fit into a crack or a hole, so can a mouse. Sealing these cracks and holes is one way to prevent mice from entering your house. For this, you need to check every opening in the walls, around windows, doors, near utility pipes, chimneys, and vents. You can use silicone caulk, steel wool or hardware cloth to cover the openings. Do not use materials like paper, wood, or plastic that mice can easily gnaw.

Another way to find and seal entry points is by using match sticks and toothpicks. Search for cracks or holes in your indoor walls and insert toothpicks or match sticks into the holes. Make sure that the toothpicks can reach the other side of the wall. Fill these holes with caulk before moving outside. From the outside of the house, look for the toothpicks or matches. They will indicate potential entry points for mice. You can take out the toothpicks and seal the holes with caulk.

You can also cover these holes with hardware cloth. If the holes are between ½ inches and ¼ inches, you will need a hardware cloth of about six inches. Insert it into the hole and cover it with caulk. Hardware cloth works better than steel wool because it does not rust.

If the hole is larger than 1/2 inches, then it has to be treated in another way. For that, you’ll need two inches of hardware cloth, cement, and a putty knife. Hold the hardware cloth over the hole and apply a patch of cement with the putty knife. Cover the whole cloth with cement. Make sure to smooth it for best appearance.  

 For doors and windows, use weather stripping and create a seal under the door using the sweep. This will reduce the movement of mice in and out of your house.

 2. Biological Enemies

Sealing the cracks can be very helpful in preventing mice from entering your house, but what if they’re already inside? The easiest way is to acquire their biological enemy, meaning get a cat. This does not involve the use of toxic chemicals or other tedious actions. Since cats are natural hunters, you do not have to tell them what, how, or when to catch mice. One major drawback of this method is that pampered pet cats are not always interested in hunting mice. A farm cat will be perfect for the task.

Some dogs are also natural hunters. Some dogs like the Scottish Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier, and Cairn Terrier are excellent rat dogs. They can be trained well for better results. However, if you don’t want to have or borrow a pet, then you can move on to other methods.

3. Physical Method

The basic method includes the use of mouse traps. Traps can be a little tricky since mice learn quickly and are smart enough to avoid certain types of traps. You have to be meticulous with the type of trap you are using, the place where you keep it and its angle and position.

Types of Traps

  • Electrical Traps

Electrical traps are the quickest way to kill a mouse. These traps use removable batteries and are reusable, which makes them cost-effective. Once the batteries are inserted, open the lid of the trap. Next, use a sweet food item like chocolate, muffins, dried fruits, bacon, peanut butter, to bait the electric trap. Make sure your bait has a tempting aroma. Since the bait station is at the far end of the trap, it requires the mouse to fully enter the trap to get the treat. The entry of the mouse triggers a sensor which releases an electric current potent enough to kill the mouse in seconds. This quick method saves the mouse from a long-suffered, painful death. Once the mouse is dead, you can empty the trap by simply opening the lid and flipping the trap. For further use, re-bait the device and let it do the rest.  

  • Plastic Traps

Plastic traps are an upgraded version of traditional wooden traps. They are also easy, effective, and affordable. You can bait the trap by placing the treat in the tiny bait cup. Then pull the lever back 90⁰ to enable the trap. This angle is preferred because it then snaps much faster than 180⁰. When the rodent steps on the trap, it releases the lever and kills the mouse. The large plate of the trap is large enough to trap a mouse from different angles. To reuse, simply open the trap to release the dead mouse and reapply bait.

  • Catch and Release Traps

Catch and release traps look like cages. These traps are used to catch the mouse only to release them somewhere far from your house. This does not involve any killing or suffering. You bait the trap and keep the lid open for the mouse to enter. As soon as the mouse steps in, a sensor is triggered, closing the door of the trap. Make sure to get a trap large enough to trap more than one mouse at a time. These traps have tiny holes that provide the mice with the oxygen required for their survival. Remember that mice must be release far from home, otherwise they will find their way back inside.

  • Glue Traps

Glue traps form sticky surfaces that catch whatever steps on them. They are usually applied on a plastic or wooden surface along the mice’s path of travel. Bait is placed on the glue to attract mice. As soon as the mouse steps the trap, it is stuck. Once the mouse is stuck you, have to remove the trap and throw it away with the dead mouse. These traps are not preferred because they cause the rodent to suffer and are sometimes ineffective. Moreover, exposing the traps to open-air covers them with dust, which causes the glue to lose its stickiness. Not only that, but these traps are harmful to other pets and kids in the house. They can also stain the furniture and floor.

Placement of Mouse Traps

Since mice are smart and can avoid traps, you have to be strategic with placement. Before setting the trap, find the travel path and the potential nesting areas of the rodent. You can observe the oil marks or their droppings around the house. Place the traps wherever you find frequent droppings or oil marks. Since mice usually walk along the walls, that is the usually best place to set the traps. You can also place them under the refrigerator, inside the drawer, or the cabinets. Make sure to place the trap with the bait section so that the mice enter the trap head first.

To make your mousetrap a success, you need to be careful. Here are the most important factors:

  • Wear Gloves

Mice can detect your scent on bait and traps and tend to avoid them. So, make sure to wear gloves when handling these traps.

  • Choice of Bait

Gone are the days when mice ate cheese. They are more attracted to calories. Peanut butter, nuts, seeds, chocolate, etc. are the best bait. Since mice are also in search of nesting materials, paper, cotton, and can also be used as bait.

  • Use a Small Amount of Bait

Using a lot of bait enables the mice to eat some of it without getting trapped. Only use pea-sized amount of bait, enough to attract mice but not so much that they can evade capture.

  • Let Them Get Used to It

Mice are very aware of their travel paths. They become cautious when a new object is suddenly placed in their path. It is better to not activate the trap right away. Place it in their path, but don’t set it. Let mice get used to it and activate it only then.

  • Keep Traps Close Together

Mice do not need much time to reach a population of one hundred. This requires you to be equally active in eliminating them. You can place several traps about 2-3ft. apart along the wall, you have noticed the most activity. Depending upon the need you can also place them with a distance of only 1 inch.

  • The night of success

Studies have shown that you will trap the most mice on the first night than any other. To make sure you succeed, place several traps and use different types of bait.

Mouse Repellents

If you dislike dealing with traps, you can use mouse repellents to get rid of mice. They are the safest and most humane way to get rid of rodents. There are mouse repelling sprays or electronic devices. The devices produce ultrasonic waves that are unbearable for mice and drive them away. The good thing about these waves is that they are inaudible to humans and most pets. These devices run on batteries and work on one room.   There is some question as to how effective the electronic devices are, but they are worth a try. 

The mice repellent sprays are also quite effective. They usually contain peppermint oil that irritates the mouse’s nose. These sprays generally do not destroy furniture or harm pets or humans in the house. Once sprayed, their effect can last for months, which ensures a long-term investment.

4. Mouse Poison

The most common mice poison is an anticoagulant. It causes mice to bleed internally and die within 4-6 hours of a single dose. You can poison the bait used on mouse traps to eliminate any chances of their survival. This type of trap can be troublesome because the mice might not die instantly. Spotting dead mice around the house or under the flooring is off-putting and the smell will drive you crazy. It's best to contact a professional Exterminator with commercial grade rodenticides, this way the poison aids in eliminated the smell of dead rodents and the infestation is killed of quickly.

DIY to Get Rid of Mice

There are several more cost-effective and convenient ways of getting rid of mice from your house. You can also apply these methods in your garage, shops or any other place where you are disturbed by these creatures.

1. Mashed Potatoes

Sprinkle a small amount of mashed potato flakes over high-trafficked areas. The mice will eat the potato flakes and their stomach will expand enough to kill them before they can fully digest the meal.

2. Onions

Mice do not like the smell of onion; They will avoid the smell. You can place an onion wherever you find mice or mice droppings Make sure it is out of reach of other pets as it can be harmful to them. Also, change the onion every day or its smell will start to disturb the humans in the house too.

3. The Plaster of Paris

Mix dry plaster of Paris with cocoa powder and sprinkle it in the high-activity areas. The mice will eat the mixture because of the cocoa powder but will die of thirst from the plaster of Paris.

4. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper has proven to be a good mouse repellant. You can place a bag of cayenne pepper near potential entry points. This will prevent the movement of mice into your house.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Dilute the vinegar with water and spray it around your house. You can spray the exterior too. It will drive the mice away. Make sure to repeat the process once every month.

Mice Exterminators

If the infestation is keeps increasing and you can’t stop it, then contact an exterminator ASAP. They are certified professionals who know exactly what to do. The professional term for the process is deratization. The best part about most exterminator services is their long-term warranty. To provide you with the most effective services, these professionals divide their tasks into certain stages.

First, they visit your premises to examine the level of infestation. They’ll also explore rodents’ potential habitats. Second, they will Investigate the cause of infestation. Knowing this will help them eliminate the infestation once and for all. Then, the professionals will select the type of treatment needed. They’ll decide the method and tools to be used. Depending on the prior information, the process will last for thirty minutes to two hours. Once completed, they will let you know if another treatment is needed. This might be necessary when the mice population has especially large and difficult to target with a single treatment. They will also suggest different types of preventive measures that you should follow.  

Be Proactive Against Mice & Rodents

Once the extermination is complete you need to follow the following preventive measures to reduce the chances of another infestation.

  • Make sure to cover all the entry points.
  • Keep an eye on your closed cupboards, drawers, closets, etc. for any signs of rodents.
  • Keep your house clean.
  • Do not leave food uncovered or on the ground.
  • Keep animal cages clean.
  • Cover the pet food properly and avoid leaving it out overnight.
  • Use tall dustbins and cover your garbage can.


Mice do not need  a permit to enter your house. They can be there, and you won’t even know. remember to look for signs of their presence. Ignoring a single mouse might force you out of the house because mice infestations grow very quickly. You must be very attentive to their activities and take the measures needed to stop an infestation. If you cannot control the infestation through mouse traps, chemicals, or other methods, call the professionals right away.