Some people keep mice as pets, but don’t be fooled: wild mice are carriers of disease and do not belong in your home. Sure, they may look “cute” with their small, furry bodies, large ears, and beady eyes, but these little thieves will eat you out of house and home if you’re not careful. Mice are nocturnal, preferring to do their damage at night. Also, they are omnivorous, meaning they’ll eat pretty much anything they can get their hands on, including their own droppings.
House mice prefer to move along baseboards and countertops, marking their territory with urine and feces, and typically build their nests close to a food source, which could be in your home. Their droppings are small and brown, about the size of a sesame seed. Because they breed quickly, it’s possible for your home to be completely infested before you even notice their presence. Here are some useful facts about house mice:
- Mice breed rapidly. A house mouse is mature within 35 days after birth and can have a first litter of up to eight pups at 60 days old.
- Individuals usually live only about a year.
- Mice are acrobatic and can jump about a foot straight up from a standing position and can jump down more than six feet without getting hurt.
- Mice can squeeze through a hole as small as 1/4 inch and can quickly climb straight up an eight-foot wall in less than half a minute.
- A community of mice can eat a surprising amount of food. They also damage food containers, and their droppings and urine contaminate a lot more food than they eat.
- In one year, one mouse produces up to 18,000 droppings; it will deposit hundreds of micro-droplets of urine every day as it marks its trails.
Prevention is difficult but starts with the exterior first. Make your yard uninviting to rodents by removing loose pet food and bird seed. Indoors, keep your kitchen and other areas clean and clear of food scraps. Also, consider using plastic containers in your pantry to make it harder for mice to smell and gain access to your stored food.