How to Tell If There’s a Mouse in Your House (Article 1 of 3)

October 23rd, 2007 11:48 am by Kelly Garbato

While I was disassembling my old blog today, it occurred to me that I never crossposted a few articles I wrote about humane methods of “pest” control from there to here. So, here they be…two years late, but still totally in season. With updated links, to boot.

The articles in this particular series include:
1 – How to Tell If There’s a Mouse in Your House
2 – How to Mouse-Proof Your House: A Natural, Humane, and Effective Form of Pest Control
3 – Spare the Snap-Trap and Have Mercy on the Mice: A Guide to “Catch-and-Release” Mouse Traps

Teh fine print: You’re permitted – nay, encouraged! – to reprint these articles elsewhere, as long as all links remain intact and clickable, and the resource box is included at the bottom of the page.

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How to Tell If There’s a Mouse in Your House
By Kelly Garbato

You’ve just settled down in bed and are twenty minutes into Letterman when you hear it: a light scratching overhead, accompanied by a squeak here and a squeal there. You assume that it’s the wind making strange noises (after all, it is windy tonight!), or perhaps the house is just settling (you do live in an older home, so it would make sense…). Maybe the sounds are just the result of an overactive imagination. You hope!

Of course, you just can’t get around the obvious conclusion – you have company. Whether it’s a bird, a bat, a squirrel, or an entire family of mice, there’s something up there. Given that you’ve had recurrent rodent problems, the latter option is probably the safest bet.

However, how can you be sure what type of animal you’re dealing with – assuming that you even have unwelcome visitors at all? Before you can evict them, you need to know who “they” are.

Above all else, your first step is to inspect your home for signs of mice. Different problems call for different solutions; if your visitors are actually squirrels instead of mice, you’ll need to develop a different strategy.

When canvassing your home, keep an eye out for these seven telltale signs:

1. Droppings and urine

Mouse droppings resemble a grain of rice; they are approximately the same size, but are black in color. Mice will not generally travel across open spaces, so you’re more likely to find droppings along walls, pipes, and beams, as well as in storage areas and next to objects. “Urine pillars” are less common; they consist of mounds of grease, urine, and dirt. You can also use a blacklight to find individual urine droppings.

2. Chew marks

Look for tooth marks and wood shavings (similar in consistency to sawdust) around doors, baseboards, and cabinets. Marks on food containers can also be a clue that you have company.

3. Grease marks

When traveling alongside pipes, beams, and walls, mice may leave greasy smear marks, as dirt and oil from their fur rubs off onto the surfaces.

4. Tracks

Footprints and tail marks on dirty, dusty, or muddy surfaces can indicate activity. If you suspect that mice have taken up residence in an otherwise impeccably clean area of your house, lay down a sprinkling of talc to catch them in the act.

5. Nests

Mice construct nests of shredded paper and similar debris; check attics, basements, garages, storage areas, closets, and other dark, enclosed places for nests or “stolen” materials.

6. Sounds

You’re more likely to hear squeaks and squawks at night, when the house is quiet and your guests are active.

7. Sightings

It’s not uncommon to see mice during the day; although they are largely nocturnal, they do move about in daylight.

Now that you’re certain that you’re dealing with mice, it’s time to start strategizing. Your plan of attack will actually come in three phases: first you need to clean up the messes you found; next, you must trap and release your unwelcome visitors; and finally, you’ll mouse-proof your house so they can’t get back in (and wouldn’t want to, even if they could!). Good luck!

About the Author:
© Kelly Garbato, 2005; All rights reserved
Kelly Garbato is an author, web editor, and small business owner (http://www.hotdogllc.com). A guardian to five dogs and a cat, her work is largely inspired by (and aims to honor) the human-animal bond. She blogs about environmental and animal rights/welfare issues at http://www.easyVegan.info and http://www.SmiteMe.net. To learn more about Kelly, or to send her an email, visit her personal web site at http://www.kellygarbato.com.

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7 Responses to “How to Tell If There’s a Mouse in Your House (Article 1 of 3)”

  1. easyVegan.info » Blog Archive » How to Mouse-Proof Your House (Article 2 of 3) Says:

    [...] The articles in this particular series include: 1 – How to Tell If There’s a Mouse in Your House 2 – How to Mouse-Proof Your House: A Natural, Humane, and Effective Form of Pest Control 3 – Spare the Snap-Trap and Have Mercy on the Mice: A Guide to “Catch-and-Release” Mouse Traps [...]

  2. easyVegan.info » Blog Archive » Spare the Snap-Trap and Have Mercy on the Mice (Article 3 of 3) Says:

    [...] The articles in this particular series include: 1 – How to Tell If There’s a Mouse in Your House 2 – How to Mouse-Proof Your House: A Natural, Humane, and Effective Form of Pest Control 3 – Spare the Snap-Trap and Have Mercy on the Mice: A Guide to “Catch-and-Release” Mouse Traps [...]

  3. Alice Says:

    Hi, I’ve heard like…something moving in my wall and behind the tv, it may be a bug but it almost sound like its moving a ball. I’ve looked back there but I couldn’t see anything, should I try lying a piece of food somewhere it can see it?

  4. PETA: Tell Lowe’s No More Glue Traps! » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    [...] How to Tell If There’s a Mouse in Your House (Article 1 of 3) [...]

  5. PETA: Lowe’s Insists on Selling Cruelty » V for Vegan: easyVegan.info Says:

    [...] How to Tell If There’s a Mouse in Your House (Article 1 of 3) [...]

  6. Joe Says:

    Yeah, uh, I’ve been hearing crunching noise behind my son’s crib and I don’t know what’s going on. I have only one clue and that chew marks on my rope.

  7. Harry Seidel Says:

    I hear sounds in the ceiling above the part of my house that has a framed in ceiling. The balance of the house has open timber frame design so there is no ceiling cavity there. In any case it sounds like a flurry of running feet scurrying around and by the racket that’s made (perhaps amplified by the uninsulated nature of the ceiling cavity between floors) it must be at least (6) or more. They cross the ceiling above my bed and it’s mostly at night, but I also occassionally hear it in the daylight hours.

    I’m trying to determine if the sound is mice or something larger. The sound is a tickty, tickty, tickty, tick and it goes across. I also here noises in walls, as well.

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