Tiny, furry things are supposed to be cute and cuddly, right? They’ve got those little ears and tiny little noses and whiskers—it’s just too much. Mice may seem cute, but that’s before they decide that your home is a great place to be fruitful and multiply. Mice and rats can actually be really gross and can bring a whole host of problems with them, which you definitely don’t want in your home or business. Not all of us have a cat that’s willing to tackle a mouse problem, which is why it’s important to learn everything you can about mice, rats, how to deal, and when to call a Toronto pest control expert.
How to Identify the Problem
When rodents take up residence in an area in your house or business, you may not notice them right away. They can build their nests in the walls and they are nocturnal. However, there are a few signs you may start to notice indicating that you may have a problem that has a really cute face.
Mice and rats are nocturnal and are in a constant search for food. As a result, they sometimes get desperate and start rummaging through your pantry like a bad houseguest, chewing through packaging and cardboard. If you notice little shreds of packaging or wood shavings, it may indicate that you have the beginnings of a rodent problem.
Mice and rats like to travel along walls for their own comfort and will avoid traveling across the middle of a room if they can avoid it. One thing you can look for are small openings in the walls. Mice and rats will both leave what are called “rub marks” along the floor near frequently travelled areas, which is from the oil from the hair on their bellies that touches the floor. You may not see this in areas where there is carpeting.
Feces is going to be your biggest indicator that something is wrong. Mice are really, really, ridiculously good at going number two. They can actually drop something in the neighbourhood of 75 rice-sized pellets per day. If you find just a few you may have a small problem; if you find a lot, you may have a larger problem and you may even have a nest nearby or in the walls, which makes the problem even more difficult to deal with.
While mice will make nests in the walls, sometimes they will also find a cozy little crevasse in which to get comfy. In fact, mice love little nooks and like to get their hands on soft materials and paper to make their nests. If you find evidence of a nest, that probably means the start of a mouse family and a more serious problem. It’s time for an intervention.
What’s the Difference Between Mice and Rats?
Many people like to lump mice and rats into the same category, and while they are very similar, there are some notable differences.
- Size – Mice are considerably smaller than rats. Most mice are somewhere between 12 and 20 centimeters, including the tail, and weight about 12–30 grams. Rats, on the other hand, are much larger and heavier. They can become as long as 40 centimeters, including the tail.
- Appearance – Besides their size, there are quite a few subtle differences in their appearance. They can both be brown or grey in colour, with rats sometimes being black. Rats have hairless tails, while mice are covered head to tail in hair. It’s harder to tell the difference when they aren’t side by side, but mice have floppy ears that are large relative to their size, and mice have pointier, triangular faces compared to the blunt face of a rat.
- Behaviour – This is where the big difference comes in. Mice are social creatures and like to live together in groups. They are also very territorial. They are sometimes curious and are willing to venture out to play, sometimes as far as 10 meters from their nest. Both are nocturnal, but rats are solitary creatures and are naturally a little on the shy side, but they will travel as far as 30 meters from their nest. Rats also have a habit of avoiding new things until they’ve become accustomed to them, which is why they may not get caught in a trap right away. Mice, however, are really curious, and if a trap is placed correctly, you can sometimes catch them quickly. When they’re in the walls though, that becomes a different issue and one that needs to be dealt with professionally.
- Party Poopers – As we mentioned, mice are likely to leave quite a few droppings per day, sometimes as much as 100 pellets! Their feces are about the size of a small grain of rice, and you may find them along their travel routes or wherever they are searching for food. Rats have larger feces and are not as prolific as mice, but it’s still really gross. Seriously. Ick.
How Do Mice Get In?
Because mice are so tiny, they can squeeze into your home through places you may not even notice right away. They like to spend time outdoors when it’s warm out, so you may not notice mice until the weather starts to turn a little cooler. When given the right environment, a mama mouse can have several litters in one year. Warm walls can become a cozy place to take up residence for mom, dad, and their adorable little tots. There are a few places you can check for “mouse doors” to see if there are places you can seal up to stop them from setting up shop on your property, but you may want a Toronto mouse control expert to come to assess the situation and make recommendations.
- Siding – Particularly at the corners of siding, you may find small gaps that are easy for mice to get through.
- Garages – When the door connecting the attached garage to the house isn’t sealed properly or it’s left open for long periods of time, you’re just inviting mice to come in and get comfortable.
- Foundation – Cracks in the foundation are a major culprit for letting mice in. With an easy way to get in from outside, mice can then navigate the walls to make a comfy and cozy nest for their disgusting little family that brings unwanted presents like fleas and disease.
- Cellar Doors – Does your building have those angled doors that lead from outside into your basement? These are sometimes called “bilco doors” and they aren’t sealed up properly they can let in all kinds of small pests—not just mice.
- Roofs – Believe it or not, mice are quite athletic and tenacious. They have been known to climb up roof downspouts and get into the walls through gaps in the roof.
- Utility Lines – Depending on your building, there may be a side close to the ground where the utility lines are connected. Often, these openings have not been properly sealed, and mice are able to jump up quite high for their size and get in the walls that way.
- Chimneys – Like with downspouts, mice can climb chimneys and get in the house that way. Since mice like to come in during the cooler months, it can be a nice excuse to build a cozy fire and keep the hearth warm to try and deter mice from using that as an entryway.
While mice can quickly become a problem if left unchecked, there are a few things you can do to try and prevent the little critters from getting in the first place.
- Seal the House – Either have an exterminator inspect the house for vulnerable spots or do it yourself. Look for gaps in the foundation and siding and seal any holes. This includes screen doors and chimneys. Follow the exterminator’s recommendations or use caulk to seal any foundation cracks. Remember, mice can fit in places smaller than you might imagine. Be diligent in your search. In addition, you should make sure all of your doors to the house are sealed properly with door sweeps installed.
- Seal the Chimney – Well, not exactly. Put screens on the chimney entrance to close off the chimney from mice.
- Clean Up – You should be cleaning your house regularly and taking out your trash regularly. Mice love an easy food source, so if you have scraps and other tasty nibbles in the trash, a mouse would be happy to take that off your hands. With that, your trash can should also be tightly closed to discourage intruders.
- Clear Away Foliage – Mice love cozy places, and sometimes that means the foliage near a house or perhaps a wood pile. As a precaution against any pest, wood should be stored away from the house and foliage should be trimmed back so it’s not right against the building.
- Store Food Properly – Mice can easily chew through food packaging and they have a particular penchant for cereals. Keep your Special K stored in tightly sealed containers and check your pantry regularly for signs of disturbance.
- Eliminate Leaks – Leaky pipes should be repaired, as a water source is yet another way to make a mouse’s home more comfortable, which is definitely something we don’t want.
- Get a Cat – Seriously. If you’re an animal lover and you have the ability, getting a cat can be an excellent deterrent against mice. Most cats have a great instinct for catching rodents, and they’re often quite pleased with themselves over a job well done.
How to Get Rid of Mice
If you’ve discovered that you have a bit of a mouse problem, there are a few ways you can start to deal with it, though if you’ve found that mice are in the walls, you may need to contact a Toronto rodent control expert. When you have a mouse problem, you can try the following:
- Traditional Traps – If you’ve found the trail that the mouse like to run, you could try and lay traditional snap traps to catch the mice. However, this can prove problematic if you have curious pets. While you certainly can try the stereotypical cheese for bait, you may find more success using tasty peanut butter or even chocolate – the same kind you eat while lying on the couch and watching Netflix. There are other types of traps, including glue traps and electronic traps. Each can be effective in their own way, though some methods are pricier than others. The major downside to traps is that you’ll likely need a lot of them in order to get the job done, and there might be other mice that didn’t fall for your tricks.
- Live Traps – Another type of trap that some people find effective is to use live traps to relocate the mice. This is a lengthy process and you may not be able to get rid of all of your mice. Again, using something like peanut butter is a delicious enticement for mice.
- Poison – Poison is one way to deal with a mouse problem, but this carries its own set of issues. Mice may go back into the walls and die, leaving you with a different type of problem in the walls. Poison is located inside of bait traps that should be set wherever the mice like to hang out for social hour. However, you should never leave bait traps where the kids, kitties, and pups can get to them, as they aren’t just poisonous to the mice. Before you decide to use poison, you should speak to an exterminator about long-term solutions.
- Repellants – If you’re feeling lucky, you could try repellants. There are many natural DIY solutions, though many of these aren’t as effective as other methods. You may be better off calling a professional.
Save your warm and snuggly feelings for puppies and kittens and get rid of mice as soon as you recognize the signs. Make your home as uninviting as possible and call us at 647-708-7378 or reach out online to get long-term solutions and make your mouse problem a thing of the past.