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Mice Infestation

Mouse house where holes were chewed through stone siding by mice in walls.

I discover mice Infestation problems in almost every home I inspect. Most of these homes had mice in walls and mice in attic spaces. In almost every case, the people living in those homes did not know they had a mouse infestation.

You can’t blame mice for wanting to live indoors. And if mice want to get in your house they can do it. As you can see above, mice can even chew through cement to enter homes.

Mice infestation where mice chewed an entry hole through a stone foundation.

Mice infestation where mice chewed an entry hole through a stone foundation.

This photo shows another example from a mouse house where the mice were entering the home after chewing through a stone foundation wall.

In this article, I would like to share some information with you to help you understand the good and the bad regarding your options for dealing with mice infestation.

Mice in walls

Hidden mice in walls where mice made nests and tunnels in wall insulation shown by infrared thermal imaging.

Hidden mice in walls where mice made nests and tunnels in wall insulation shown by infrared thermal imaging.

Exterior walls of homes make ideal habitat for mice infestation. They typically enter from underneath exterior siding and sometimes enter through utility penetrations where gas, water, and electrical pipes pass through exterior walls.

Mice in walls enlarge holes made for electrical wiring to migrate. Chewed wiring can cause short circuits and house fires.

Mice in walls enlarge holes made for electrical wiring to migrate. Chewed wiring can cause short circuits and house fires.

Once mice gain entrance, they travel through holes drilled in wall studs for electrical wiring. Often mice will chew the electrical wiring as they enlarge the holes in wall studs. The chewed wiring can cause short circuits and house fires.

Mice in attic

Mouse infestation showing mouse tunnels in attic insulation.

Mouse infestation showing mouse tunnels in attic insulation.

Once inside the walls, mice can climb up into attic spaces. They can also enter attics through roof vents. With attic mice infestation you will usually see a network of tunnels connecting their nests where they sleep and reproduce.

Mice don’t use bathrooms

Mouse infestation where structural wood framing and insulation are soaked with urine adding to the mouse odor.

Mouse infestation where structural wood framing and insulation are soaked with urine adding to the mouse odor.

Mice urinate and excrete indiscriminately. This is a mice infestation showing a photo of a mouse that made a nest (and bathroom) on the top of a foundation wall after entering the house from underneath the exterior siding.

Their waste material contributes to an underlying mouse smell in homes. The mouse odor consists of gasses which are unhealthy to inhale. Additionally, particles from their elimination material can become airborne and cause allergy symptoms and asthma symptoms.

Mouse repellent options

Using mice repellent is not the best solution to a mouse infestation problem. Nonetheless, some people use mice repellents because they feel it’s a more humane method of mouse control. Other people recognize mice as a dirty vermin that damage homes and cause health issues, and therefore would prefer to kill mice by using mouse traps or mouse baits.

If you choose to use mouse repellent, there are a few pros and cons you should be aware of regarding your two options.

Electronic mouse repellent

Electronic mice repellent devices emit a high-frequency sound that annoys mice but is inaudible to humans. I don’t like electronic mouse repellent devices but they have their place.

I don’t like them because the human body is more sensitive to electrical and sound frequencies than most people realize, even if you can’t see, feel, or hear them. I would not want to expose my body to the frequencies emitted by one or more of these devices in my home.

The only place I would consider using electronic mice repellent devices is in a vacant property such as a cottage or cabin.

Natural mouse repellent

Natural mouse repellent products, typically sprays that are oil based, create odors that are offensive to mice but supposedly safe for us.

In my opinion, they can be used safely outdoors but I don’t recommend using them indoors. Anything that creates a strong odor does not belong in your home. The air inside your house should always be odor free like fresh air outdoors. From a health standpoint, it is never wise to compromise your indoor air quality with anything that creates an odor.

Ideally, natural mice repellents should only be used outdoors around the perimeter of a home. After all, what’s the point in letting mice in your house and then trying to repel them?

Mouse bait poison

Contaminated residue of dead mice carcasses.

Contaminated residue of dead mice carcasses.

I never recommend poisoning mice inside of a home. Poisoned mice often die inside of walls and air ducts thereby creating unhealthy gaseous odors as they decompose. The rotting carcasses also produce mold and bacteria that can further degrade your indoor air quality. Particles left behind from the carcasses and the poison they ate can also become airborne and cause health issues.

A secondary concern is when poisoned mice are consumed by other animals or birds of prey because the poison can also sicken or kill once it is inside a new body.

Mouse traps

Using a mouse trap is the safest way to contend with a mouse. I use the new plastic mouse traps that are easy to set without worrying about having the mouse trap snap on your fingers. Put a little peanut butter in them and away you go. Once you catch a mouse you simply squeeze the handle, the dead mouse falls out, the trap is reset and ready to go again.

Mice infestation accesses

Most mice live secretly in insulation inside walls and up in attics without the knowledge of homeowners.  They usually go outdoors to forage, so if you accidentally see a mouse inside of your house, you likely have more mice living in your wall cavities and/or up in your attic space. The infrared photo shows mouse nests and tunnels inside of exterior wall insulation.

Once you are finished trapping mice inside your home, the outside of the home should be inspected for their points of entry. These locations are usually around utility penetrations through siding, through clothes dryer vents, and through small tunnels created underneath the bottom edge of the exterior siding. You can use a hand mirror to inspect the underside of the siding around the perimeter of your house.

The holes can be sealed with an appropriate caulk or packed tightly with steel wool. If you leave the holes open, new mice will find them because of the mouse odor that is left behind from mouse urine.

 

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