Ever think you heard something in your walls or ceiling at night, but you are not 100% sure? Your half asleep, trying to figure out if it was the wind, the houses usual noises or maybe a mouse running around in your ceiling cavity. Because mice are usually active when we are not, it can be difficult to be certain if those nocturnal noises are cause for concern.
Not knowing what you are up against is a frustrating situation to be in. You may suspect you have mice in your home, but how can you be certain? Performing a quick google search describing what's going on will often compound the situation. Eventually, you will just end up on a site stating you must burn down your home and leave the province.
Before you set the place ablaze, there are a few simple steps you can take to confirm that you do, in fact, have mice in your home.
Low Traffic Areas
We have two things working for us in these situations; mice are more afraid of us than we are of them, and they usually leave evidence of their presence in the areas they frequent most often. Signs to look out for are droppings, chew marks and evidence of food being accessed.
This is what mouse droppings look like:
The first places you should look at are the low traffic areas in your home. Start with areas accessible from your living spaces, such as crawlspaces, basement storage rooms, behind the dishwasher or under your kitchen sink, etc.
The exception to the low traffic area rule is the kitchen. Although your kitchen is a high traffic area, once the house quiets down, these industrious little critters will risk the repercussions and venture into your drawers and cupboard in search of sustenance.
Chances are if you are infested with rodents, you will find evidence in one or more of these areas.
A Quick Glance in Your Attic
Just because you did not find mouse droppings or chewed open cereal boxes in your kitchen, does not mean you are vermin free. If mice find a food or water source in areas outside the kitchen, they will not risk detection by venturing into the higher traffic kitchen area.
So, the next step you should take to determine if you are hosting a significant mouse population is to take a quick peek in your attic. Most attics will have an access hatch, typically found in a bedroom closet. In some rare instances, you may need to access the attic through a roof vent. If this is the case we suggest you contact a professional to assist with this process.
You do not need to crawl around the attic and examine every square inch. More often than not, a cursory glance will tell you everything you need to know. Mice will almost always end up in your attic and walls. The insulation allows them to travel quietly and undetected through various areas of your home. Because t is not practical to rip open your drywall and inspect the contents of your wall cavities; we recommend you simply pop your head up in the attic and have a quick look around.
Mice will tunnel through the insulation, as well as leave feces and urine stains in the areas they frequent the most. If you find evidence of either of these two things, you can be 100% certain you are dealing with a fairly significant mouse issue.
This is what the tunnels look like in your attic insulation:
Peanut Butter Test
Finally, if you have attempted the other two suggested methods to no avail and your still hearing noises; you should make them an offering of tasty, creamy peanut butter. They will not be able to resist.
Sometimes, for various reasons, you will not be able to confirm their presence through a visual exam or an attic inspection. Fortunately, the most foolproof of our suggested methods today will definitely tell you whether or not you are housing a mouse population. Mice will not, under any circumstances, be able to resist a helping of peanut butter left out for them in a quiet space in your home.
Simply place a teaspoon of peanut butter on a few saucers and place them in potentially high-risk areas around your home. If your attic hatch is accessible, place one of the saucers just inside the hatch. Other great places are around the dishwasher or under the kitchen sink, in the basement or in any crawl spaces. Anywhere there is not much foot traffic.
Leave the saucer for 24 hours and do your best to avoid those areas. If you return and the peanut butter is untouched. Congratulations, it was a false alarm. And if the opposite is true, its time to contact your local wildlife prevention experts and address the issue in a humane and effective manner.
If you did discover through this process that you are in fact unwittingly housing a mouse population, you have two possible avenues to explore:
Using bait, traps, and poisons is the most common first step people attempt. Becuase it's a cheap and relatively easy method to employ, it also a very popular option. Unfortunately, this is only recommended in instances where it is impossible to employ the proper preventative and exclusion methods. If the foundation is old and porous, if the roof is dilapidated or if there is wood siding or soffits; proper exclusion methods may be impossible to employ.
Traps and poison will catch a small percentage of the population you are trying to get rid of. But it will never identify how they are getting in and prevent that from reoccurring in the future. This coupled with the fact that mice are such prolific breeders, it's safe to say this method will never completely and permanently get rid of the unwanted critters.
Exclusion and Prevention
The only way to rid yourselves completely and permanently of these unwanted house guests is to seal off all possible entry points. Once this is done there is a one-way-door system placed on the main entry and exit points, allowing the mice to exit and thus locking them out permanently.
The whole process takes a day for the preventative measures to be put in place, and about 4-6 weeks for the mice to vacate the premise. Unfortunately, ridding yourselves of hundreds, maybe even thousands of mice is going to take a little time. Make sure to ask about the companies warranty, reputable companies will offer a significant guarantee on their services.
This process is more time consuming and costly than baits, traps, and poisons; but it will actually work. Often times people will waste a year on the first method in hopes of saving money, only to start the process over properly again a year later. Only this time the population has grown and the problem has gotten more difficult to contain.
This is a complicated and technical process, contact your local mouse removal experts to get more information.