House Mouse

In the Greater Kansas City Area, the house mouse is the most commonly encountered and economically important of the commensal rodents, the Norway and roof/black rats being the other two. House mice are not only a nuisance, damage/destroy materials by gnawing, and eat and contaminate stored food, they are also of human health importance as disease carriers or vectors. It is thought to be of Central Asian origin, but is now of worldwide distribution and found throughout the United States.

As you read through the following information, you will quickly learn that Augustine Services provides expert help in rodent control

Recognition

The house mouse is found throughout the United States. An average adult house mouse has a combined head and body length of 2.5 to 3.5", with a tail 2 ¾ to 4" long. It will weigh ½ to 1 oz. Its fur is smooth, with color usually dusty gray above and light gray or cream on belly (some members of this species may be light brown above), but the fur color varies considerably from area to area or location to location, regardless of living habits. Its muzzle is pointed, the eyes are small, the incisors teeth are ungrooved and the ears are large, with some hair. Its feet are short and broad and it has a uniformly dark, scaly, semi-naked tail. Adult droppings are 1/8 to 1/4" long, rod-shaped, and somewhat smooth (the droppings can be confused with those of theAmerican cockroach droppings with ridges), with pointed ends.

Signs of Infestation

Mice owe their success to being highly adaptable; they base their foraging activity on when humans are least present (allowing them to escape our awareness). They can survive on just about any kind of food, so their dietary needs adapt readily and they can go without water for considerable periods if necessary. This adaptability and secretive nature often makes infestations difficult to perceive until numbers are considerable. Once inside, mice often establish themselves near food-storage and food preparation areas, closets, pantries, cabinet bases, or c

Droppings: Mouse droppings are about the size of rice grains. Small, tapered fecal pellets are left in areas where the mouse feeds or is harbored. Mouse urine fluoresces, so the hundreds of micro droplets they lay down each day can be viewed using a black light in an otherwise dark room.

Tracks: Scatter a small patch of flour or talcum powder on the floor along the wall or in likely places. Put a cracker or a piece of bread spread with peanut butter in the middle of your "tracking patch." Check for tracks the next day. Grease trails and smudge marks along the patrol path of their territory – around wall skirting, entrance holes, etc.

Burrows: Check in weedy places, under boards, under dog houses and near garbage cans or dumpsters. House mice may burrow outside structures when they cannot gain access or find other shelter.

Teeth marks and chewing: Any little hole with chewed edges is a sure sign. Check your pantry for chewed packages. Look for shredded paper. Look for teeth marks and hair.

Sound:Listen for gnawing or scratching in walls or attics, especially at night.

Nests: They consist of fine, shredded fibrous materials, chewed paper or cloth (including gloves, carpet, clothes) is often found in boxes, drawers, basements or attics. Nests are frequently found when cleaning garages, closets, attics, basements, and outbuildings where mice are present.

Smudge marks (rub marks): Occurs on beams, rafters, pipes, and walls. They form as a result of oil and dirt rubbing off the mouse as they travel the route.

Odor:A musty odor usually indicates mice are present.

Biology

The house mouse is a prolific breeder. They reach sexual maturity in 35 days. Pregnancy lasts an average of 19 days (range 18 to 21days). The young are blind and naked except for long whiskers and are weaned at about 3 to 4 weeks. The average litter size is 6 (range 5 to 8), with about 8 litters per year, but averaging 30 to 35 days. More than 1 litter may be present in the nest at one time. Life expectancy is normally less than 1 year, but mice have been known to live as long as 6 years in captivity. Mice have keen senses, except for sight, because they cannot see clearly beyond 6" and are color-blind. A mouse requires about 1/10 ounce of dry food and 1/20 ounce of water (normally obtained from food) each day and produces about 50 droppings each day. Over a 6-month period, a pair of mice will eat about 4 pounds of food, produce about 18,000 droppings, and void about 3/4 pint of urine.

The most common way mice transmit disease organisms is by contaminating food with their droppings and/or urine. The most threatening organism spread by mice is Salmonella, a cause of food poisoning. Other transmittable organisms include tapeworms, rat-bite fever via bites, infectious jaundice/leptospirosis/Weil's Disease via urine in food or water, a fungus disease (Favus) of the scalp (either by direct contact or indirectly via cats), plague and murine typhus via fleas. Rickettsial pox via the mite Liponyssoides sanguineus (Hirst), lymphocytic choriomeningitis via droppings, and possibly poliomyelitis (polio). Another problem is house mouse mite dermatitis which is caused by these mites when they feed on humans.

Habits

Mice are very social, but nocturnal in habit. Related males and females are compatible, but unrelated male mice are typically very aggressive toward one another. Social hierarchies with one male dominating lower-ranking males result in the maintenance of territories, which may include a large number of females as well as lower-ranking males, most of which will be related. Territory size varies but it is usually relatively small. All mature mice tend to show aggression towards strangers of either sex that enters their territory, which is marked with urine. If food and shelter are plentiful, they may not travel more than 4 to 5 feet from their nests.

Mice owe their success to being highly adaptable; they base their foraging activity on when humans are least present, allowing them to escape our awareness. This adaptability and secretive nature often makes infestations difficult to perceive until numbers are considerable.

Once inside, mice often establish themselves near food-storage and food preparation areas, closets, pantries, cabinet bases, or cluttered rooms. They will also climb wall utility lines for electrical or plumbing and nest within suspended ceiling spaces.

Mice are inquisitive. During the daily territorial patrol, they will explore anything new or changed, and establish new travel routes if needed. Mice are nibblers and eat only small amounts of food at any one time or place. Although mice will eat many kinds of food, seeds are usually preferred. There are 2 main feeding periods, at dusk and just before dawn, with many other "mini" feeding times in between. They will sample new foods but return to the old food unless the new food is preferred. Required moisture is normally obtained from their food but they will take free water when available, especially when feeding on high-protein food. When given a choice, they prefer sweetened liquids over plain water. Nesting sites are generally dark, secluded places where there is abundant nesting material nearby and little chance of disturbance. Nesting materials include paper products, cotton, packing materials, wall/attic insulation, fabrics, etc. They require an opening barely greater than ¼" to gain entry.

Mice are excellent climbers and can run up most roughened walls. They can swim but prefer not to do so. They can jump 12" high and can jump down from about 8 ft high without injury. They can run horizontally along pipes, ropes, and wires. Mice can survive and thrive in cold storage facilities at 14°F.

Control

The key to any mouse control program is identification, harborage elimination, and mouse-proofing the building. Control should be based on their behavioral habits. Some of the most important things to remember are:

Don’t attract mice

  1. Don’t allow trash to accumulate along exterior walls, as this will attract mice.
  2. Do not place trash receptacles close to exterior doorways.
  3. Keep garbage in tightly covered cans. Drainage holes can be screened.
  4. Clean up food scraps and store foods appropriately to prevent easy access to food. It is all too common to store pet foods and bird seed in garages, basements and yard sheds. When this is done it should be stored off the floor and in freezer “zip lock” (sealing) bags or airtight containers.
  5. Clear tall weeds since weeds and seeds serve as food and shelter for mice during warm weather. Mice like to hide in such places.
  6. Don't pile wood against buildings. Store wood and other materials at least one foot off the ground and away from buildings. This also discourages termite attack to the building.

Exclude mice from buildings

To reduce the threat of rodent-borne diseases, allergens, and other health threats, prevent mice from becoming established inside buildings by finding and sealing up potential access points.

  1. Seal gaps of 1/4-inch or more with silicone or polyurethane sealant products that stretch because gaps and cracks in buildings expand and contract due to temperature changes and other factors. Steel wool, foam and other temporary materials are not recommended for larger holes and cracks. They should be filled with good quality concrete, or stuffed with Xcluder cloth or Stuf-fit copper mesh, then sealed.
  2. Seal around water, gas, electric, and other pipes and conduits going through walls.
  3. Make all external doors mouse-proof using the high-quality, brush or baffle-style door sweeps that seal the gap between the threshold and the door base.
  4. Maintain and repair all ventilation screens, louvers used in attic spaces, and furnace closets. All gaps around the frames of screens and louvers should also be kept tightly sealed.
  5. You must de-clutter if you want to de-mouse. Trapping is useless in a cluttered environment.
  6. Use traps, not poison baits, inside. Snap trapping results in the fastest elimination of mice. They take advantage of a mouse’s curiosity. Mice will be trapped easily the first night, but then may become trap-shy. On the first night, set a number of traps in areas of mouse activity (droppings found), positioning each trap 3 feet apart or closer. Set the traps a week later in slightly different locations. This technique will help overcome trap-shyness. Monitor traps at least once per day.

The technicians at Augustine Services are experts in rodent control. They can help you set up the perfect rodent control program and then monitor your results. Give Augustine Services a call at 913-362-4399.