Mice


We take our first look in the world of rodents with the well-known mice. While most of us associate them with the image of Mickey Mouse or Tom & Jerry, a mice infestation still poses a serious threat to humans and mice damage to our homes. Let’s discuss some of the more important aspects of these gnawing mammals.

Appearance

There are several different species you can find in the UK.

    1. House Mouse (Mus musculus)
      house-mouse

      House Mouse (Mus musculus)

      If you’ve seen a mouse in your home, it is most likely a House mouse. It looks nothing like your favourite Disney mascot. This species reach 4 inches (10 cm) in length (nose to base of tail, the tail can reach up to 4 inches, approximately 10 cm), and have a darker-coloured grey fur. Many folks mistake them for young Norwegian rats. You can distinguish them by their thin tail, large eyes, and small feet and head.

 

  1. Yellow Necked Field Mice (Apodemus flavicollis)
    yellow-necked-field-mouse

    Yellow Necked Field Mice (Apodemus flavicollis)

    The other type of mice you may encounter indoors is the Yellow necked field mice. It has yellow-coloured fur and can reach a little bit over a centimetre without the tail. The third common species in the UK is the Field mouse. It rarely ventures indoors. You can distinguish it by its miniature body (shorter than a centimetre), sandy fur on the head and white fur on the belly. It also has a shorter tail and bigger head than Yellow necked mouse.

Feeding Habits

Almost all mice are herbivores. Each species prefer different types of food. While Field mice’s and House mice’s diet consists of fruits and cereal, Yellow necked field mice feed on cables and wood. Thus, they pose a serious threat as they can cause structural instability or fires due to short circuits. Mice’s diet is mostly dry and they consume less than 3mcgs of water per day.

Cause of Infestations

Mice prefer humid, warm areas. In the wild, they live in crop field, forested areas and holes in the ground. In rural areas, these rodents inhabit barns, basements, cracks in the wall and attics. They can also live indoors as long as there are suitable hiding spots. Unfortunately, their quest for shelter is always accompanied by severe mice damage to your home or office.

Detection

It is easy to detect mice by the squeaks and scratching noises they make. While they can remain hidden for a long time, their droppings and mice damage are easy to spot. Mice lack control over their bodily functions and will often do their number one and two while eating. Thus mice urine and excrement can usually be found near food sources in case of an infestation.

They also develop specific traffic patterns and leave signs of their presence along the way. To summarize, the most obvious signs of a mice infestation are:

  • Faecal matter
  • Food debris
  • Teeth marks and gnawed items
  • Scratching noises
  • Mice damage such as gnaw and scratch marks
  • Unpleasant smell often described as something between rotten cheese and chicken

How Do Mice Damage Homes?

Many pests will take away your good night’s sleep and create general discomfort, but a mice infestation goes much further. Mice will treat your home and belongings with the utmost disrespect! Mice damage furniture, electrical appliances, wires, cars, food, documents and many other items they get their hands (or technically, teeth) on.
Mouse damage in the house can be found on:

    • Insulation in-between walls and in the attic: Mice are naturally attracted to insulation because they see it as the perfect soft material for their nest. They will make holes and tunnels in your insulation and greatly reduce its efficiency.
    • Upholstered furniture, car seats: Not only will mice damage your furniture by gnawing, they might also decide to create a nest inside of it. Rodent damage to cars can be terribly unfortunate!
    • Large electrical appliances such as the backside of ovens: Mice are attracted by warmth and it’s not impossible that they settle in your oven or dryer and cause irreparable damage.
    • Electrical wires: This is positively the most hazardous kind of mice damage, as it causes power shortages, appliance malfunction and even fires.
    • Paper and documents: Mice are known to shred stored paper as a material for their nests.
    • Walls: If mice cannot find a hole to sneak into your house through, they will make one, thus leaving permanent damage to your structural wall.
    • Plastic and wooden containers
Mice damage on insulation

Evidence of mice damage in floor insulation.

Risks and Hazards

Mice are a perfect host for fleas—make sure you check our fleas entry on the various diseases they spread. The rodents also carry deadly illnesses such as leptospirosis, tularemia, typhus and even bubonic plague. Yet the main health hazard associated with them are germs from their urine, droppings, or consumed gnawed food.

They need to chew on something almost all the time as their teeth never stop growing. Gnawed cables can cause short circuits which result in fire. A study in the US showed up to 20 percent of all domestic fires start this way. They can also compromise the structural integrity of your building and cause dangerous destruction.

Treatment of a Mouse Bite

In the unlikely event you are bitten by a mouse, you should cleanse the wound and seek medical help immediately. Your doctor will vaccinate you against tetanus and check for potential disease and infections. He will also prescribe you antibiotics for possible inflammations. Bites can result in mild to strong pains. In those cases ask your doctor for pain relief medication. Mice rarely carry rabies but your doctor might advise you to get a rabies shot.

Mice Prevention

      1. Make sure your property doesn’t have any cracks or openings from where mice can get in.
      2. Keep food stored in safe locations and check your cupboard basis for signs of infestation on a regular.
      3. Peppermint, lavender, chilli, cinnamon and chamomile all repel mice.
      4. As tempting as it sounds, it is not a good idea to leave your cat to hunt them down. This can result in your feline friend getting ill with a dangerous disease.

Folklore & Pop Culture Connection

Mice are one of the oldest pests known to humanity. They were often seen as vermin due to their keen appetite for wheat, rye, oat and rice. They also feed on books, paper and even clothing. In Ancient Mesopotamia all scrolls began and ended with a plea to the Mice King, asking him to spare the parchments from his wrath.

Mice have also become an archetype in cartoons, thanks to the popularity of Mickey Mouse, Jerry, and Pinky and the Brain. They are now seen less as a pest and more as a likeable, misunderstood fuzzy animals. Lately, fancy mice have become a popular pet for the rich and famous. Yet we advise you against treating those intruders to your home as guests. Non-domesticated mice spread various diseases and can be quite dangerous.

What to Do in Case of an Infestation

If bad luck strikes and mice do appear in your premises, it is best to call for reliable mouse control. Those rodents are particularly resilient to pesticides. Even if killed, they are likely to die in out-of-the-reach areas of your property. This is a scenario you don’t want to occur. Dead mice carcasses around your property are the perfect recipe for a health disaster. Mice traps are efficient against single mouse. It is impossible to battle infestation with traps since young mice are not attracted to the baits.

Images by: 1. Duncan Hull, 2. Vojtěch Dostál, 3. Lee Down

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