28 November 2017

Pest advice for controlling House Mice

House mice are a part of British wildlife - but when they take up residence with you, they can be a cause for concern.

Active all year round, mice are one of the most common pest species in the UK.

house mice az

House mice are small mammals of the order Rodentia.

You can find out more about mice, their biology and behaviour, and how to control them in our ultimate A-Z guide

In this guide

The dangers: why we control house mice

Although house mice are often considered to be cute by some people, they are a public health pest and can cause serious harm.

Mice have been known to spread nasty diseases - such as Salmonella and Listeria - to humans through their urine, droppings and bedding.

Mice have a need to mark their territory with their urine and due to their sporadic eating habits, build nests near food sources. This puts anyone with an infestation at risk of food poisoning.

As they scurry around, they carry dirt and bacteria with them, transferring it to your counter tops, cabinets, pantry and anywhere else they travel.

These nibbling nuisances can also cause a lot of property damage, due to their compulsive need to gnaw to maintain their teeth at a constant length.

Electric cables, water and gas pipes, packaging and woodwork may all be seriously damaged by mice - many instances of electrical fires and floods have been attributed to them.

Appearance

House mice

The house mouse has a typical mouse profile: small feet with big eyes and thinly-haired ears, and a pointed snout with thin whiskers.

Their body length ranges between 60-90mm, and the tail generally equals the length of its body, adding another 90mm.

They weigh less than 25g, and their fur colour is uniformly light brown and grey, right down to the tail which has sparse hairs on it.

And keep those pegs handy - they have a really distinctive, strong smell so you’ll know if you have a large infestation of these unwanted guests.

mouse comparison

Field mice

In comparison, a field mouse has sandy brown fur with a lighter underside.

As it mainly lives outdoors, it has bigger eyes and ears than a house mouse. This is an adaptation to avoid predation.

Field mice also have long tails, making them quite agile climbers.

Juveniles are greyer overall, still with larger ears, hind feet and tails than house mice.

How to prevent house mice

Prevention is better than cure, so let’s take a look at how we can accomplish that.

Mice only need a gap of 5mm to gain entry (roughly the diameter of the eraser end of a pencil).

You will need to search for any potential entry points and seal these up with wire wool embedded in quick-setting cement.

Image: Rentokil

You should focus on low level gaps first as these are the most likely areas for mice to enter. You can then consider any higher up vents or gaps.

Check around pipes and windows, and double check the basement.

You should focus on low level gaps first as these are the most likely areas for mice to enter.

Proofing all means of entry as much as possible will help to prevent an infestation.

Other steps you should take are:

  • Remove potential nesting sites by keeping gardens clean and tidy, cutting back overgrown areas and clearing any piles of wood/debris
  • Cover any household waste where mice can get access to it, close dustbin lids and cover compost heaps
  • Store food in airtight containers and make sure any food debris is cleaned up straight away
  • Install door sweeps or door brush strip on exterior doors, if the gap is larger than 4mm.

Good hygiene practices won’t eliminate a mouse problem, but poor practices will attract them.

Getting rid of house mice

DIY mouse control

It is important to get rid of mice quickly, as mice are adaptable, highly mobile and breed rapidly - this combination can make mouse control a difficult task for the untrained individual.

For any mouse infestation, we would always recommend contacting a professional pest control company through BPCA.

They are trained in mouse control and will have access to a range of professional use rodenticides which are not available to the public.

If you decide to carry out the work yourself, then you can buy amateur use poisons and traps from a hardware store or garden centre. It is crucial that you read the label fully before use.

However, due to their habits, traditional baiting techniques and trapping frequently do not work, and a combination of rodenticides may be necessary.

It is common knowledge in the pest control industry that almost all house mouse populations in London (and possibly other cities) are resistant to traditional rodenticides.

Amateur-use products are restricted and it is likely that you won't be able to purchase the necessary poison.

An alternative to using poisons are break-back traps.

You may catch mice if baited with nutty chocolate, raisins or similar attractive food and placed close to signs of mouse activity.

mouse trap mouse bait cheese

Place traps close to, and at right angles to, walls so the treadle may be activated from either direction.

When placing poison or traps, make sure they are in a safe and secure place out of reach of children and pets.

WARNING: When using rodenticides always follow the instructions on the label, and importantly search for and dispose of any dead rodents in a safe manner.

Leaving these in the open can result in primary and secondary poisoning of non target animals, such as birds scavenging on the carcass.

Additionally, thought needs to be taken when placing poison or traps to ensure they are in a safe and secure place out of reach of non target animals, children and pets.

Although it is not recommended to tackle these pests yourself, if you decide to give it a go then you must take all necessary precautions to ensure you do not cause collateral damage or suffer personal injury.

Professional pest control

For any house mouse infestation, we would always recommend contacting a professional pest control company.

They are trained in mouse control and will have access to a range of professional use rodenticides which are not available to the public.

Knowing how much, where, and when to deploy products is where professionals are able to take control of situations efficiently.

Professional pest controllers will take an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to tackling your infestation.

A pest professional will have access to monitoring equipment, which they will use to confirm entry points into your property, the size of the infestation and to track the mouse to its harbourage (nest).

They can then recommend a proofing strategy and decide on the best course of action in terms of control; this could be traps, rodenticides or a combination of both.

Finding a pest controller to get rid of house mice

A BPCA member company will be able to treat infestations quickly and safely.

They can help minimise pest activity with a range of techniques and have the technical knowledge and experience to apply products in an efficient manner, while minimising risk to the environment and non target species.

All BPCA members employ qualified technicians who frequently update their knowledge.

We audit all our members to the British and European Standard for Pest Management, BS EN 16636.

You can find a BPCA member, local to you, using our Find a pest controller tool.

Source: A-Z

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