So, you’re enjoying a Netflix binge with your roommate when you see something dash across your living room floor. You instantly recall the New York City ‘Pizza Rat’ video that went viral this September. He even wiggled his way into the New York Times, and now one of his pals has chosen your cozy home to settle in for winter. If you live in an area where the fall weather is rolling in, so are the rodents. This is their prime season to seek food, shelter, and warmth indoors. But don’t panic — just like bed bugs — you can get rid of mice in the house and prevent them from coming back no matter where you live with a few expert tips.
How to Get Rid of Mice in the House
The first thing you should do once you’ve seen a mouse is contact your landlord. He/she will schedule a pest management professional to inspect your place and safely eliminate the mice with their professional equipment. But so you’re not twiddling your thumbs waiting for the next mouse-sighting, there are a few things you can do yourself. Dr. Nancy Troyano, entomologist and Director of Technical Education and Training at Rentokil North America offers some tips on how you can help get rid of mice in the house.
- Clean up any potential food sources. This includes any of your food sitting on countertops, as well as animal food. Pet food should be off the floor and in sealed containers.
- Clean clutter areas where mouse activity is suspected. Boxes, linen, stashed holiday decorations are all recognized as safe harbor for mice.
- Identify all possible entry ways where mice can get in. Common entryways include gaps around utility pipes and holes around walls and doors. Remember that mice only need an entryway the size of a dime, so don’t overlook any insignificant holes.
If you’re an animal lover or you know your vegan roommate is going to seriously object to causing any harm to the little critters, consider setting up some humane mouse traps around your apartment. You might want to consider buying multiple traps to increase your likelihood of catching a mouse because the sneaky rodents travel stealthily. Plus, as Troyano points out, if you’ve already seen one mouse, there’s a good chance there are more.
“Mice can be tricky to get rid of, as they are secretive and tend to hide in inaccessible areas. They’re also nocturnal, so generally only come out at night to seek food and nesting material,” she says.
“Additionally, mice are prolific breeders, with one female capable of producing more than 30 offspring in one year. Because of their elusive behavior and reproductive potential, the size of a mouse infestation is often underestimated.”
After your home is definitely mouse-free, take some steps to prevent them coming back. Luckily most of Troyano’s tips are common sense and easy to implement.
- Make sure doors, windows, and all potential openings are sealed. Remember how it only takes a dime-sized hole for a mouse to get in? Make sure you check every nook and cranny carefully!
- Keep food stored properly in airtight containers. Additionally, clean regularly under stoves and refrigerators where crumbs can gather.
- Repair cracks on the exterior of your home (or ask your landlord to do this). They might be harder to identify if you live in an apartment building, but you can try asking your landlord to do a thorough check and repair.
- Remove air conditioning units in the winter. The space around them can be super-highways for rodents and other pests. (Plus leaving them in will only let in drafts.)
- Dispose of garbage quickly and properly. ‘Tis the season to be the bigger roommate. Take the trash out immediately before you face consequences worse than this.
- Make sure your attic or basement doesn’t have a leak issue. Any source of moisture can attract rodents, and you definitely don’t want to be facing a mold issue on top of that.
Besides being obvious pests, mice can bring with them icky germs and food-borne illnesses, says Troyano — all the more reason why taking measures to prevent a repeat infestations are that much more important.
“Mice have a tendency to live in or frequent unsanitary places such as sewers or garbage piles, where they acquire bacteria such as salmonella, and harbor it in their digestive tracts,” she says. “Then they enter homes and contaminate food and food surfaces with their infected droppings, which can lead to acute food-poisoning in humans.”
“Another concern is mouse allergens. A protein found within the urine of the common house mouse has been reported to trigger asthma and closely-related allergic conditions in susceptible people. Because mice typically urinate in micro-droplets wherever they’re nesting, eating and traveling throughout the day, mouse urine can literally be found on thousands of surfaces throughout a home.”
Hear that, Pizza Rat? You and your friends have to go.