Mice and Their Control

Close-up of Mus musculus, commonly known as a house mouse.

There are many species of mice, but the ones that are most commonly found in houses and other buildings are Mus musculus,commonly known as the "house mouse." Its common name reflects the way this mouse has evolved in close association with humans, living in our homes and buildings and eating our food.

Here in California, we also have various species of "outside" mice who usually live outdoors, but who will sometimes move into buildings, especially during cold snaps. Once inside, most of these mice have similar habits to house mice and can be treated using similar methods.

Compared to their cousins the rats, mice of all species enjoy a relatively benign reputation. Most people think they're harmless. Some people even think they're cute and funny and create cartoons around them.

The truth, however, is that mice in a house or other human-occupied building are no laughing matter. They're not harmless at all. In fact in some ways, mice area even more dangerous than rats.

 

Mice and Human Health

Like rats, mice and their parasites are involved in transmitting many diseases, some of which are quite serious. Mice are known to transmit hantavirus, leptospirosis, and salmonellosis; and their parasites can transmit even more diseases such as Lyme disease, tapeworms, murine typhus, and plague.

Because of their small size and curious natures, mice tend to come into much closer contact with humans than rats do. Mice are often found in kitchen cabinets, for example, where they contaminate food and utensils with their saliva, urine, and droppings. Rats are more cautious than mice and more likely to keep their distance, and their larger size restricts their travel somewhat.

 

Economic Damage Caused by Mice

Close-up of gnawed-away insulation on electrical wiring in an attic, exposing the copper conductors.

Like all rodents, mice are gnawers. They have very strong jaws for their small size and very sharp teeth, which gives them ability to cause quite a bit of damage.

Probably the most common mouse gnawing damage observed by homeowners is in their kitchen cabinets. Mice gnaw their way into the cabinets, and then gnaw at food packaging to get at the goodies inside. They also can gnaw through plastic containers if the food inside is worth the effort.

Mice also damage items that are stored away in attics, basements, or closets. They gnaw at clothing for nesting material, and at leather items like shoes and handbags just for the sheer joy of gnawing. They also stain and damage clothing and other stored textile items with their droppings and urine.

Mice can also damage buildings. Sometimes they'll find a hole that's just a little bit smaller than they need it to be to get through it, so they just gnaw at it to make it bigger. They also gnaw at electrical power wiring and communications wiring (like Ethernet cables for computer networks, coax for cable television, telephone lines, and door bell wires. They cause many communications outages every year. In fact, a mouse problem in a computer data center is considered an emergency situation.

In homes, mice also create a fire hazard when they gnaw on electrical power lines. Mice and other rodents are believed to be responsible for thousands of electrical fires of "unknown" causes every year as a result of their gnawing through insulation and exposing the conductors. They can also cause failures in Internet and network wiring, door bells, and heating and cooling thermostats when they gnaw through those wires. Most door bell and thermostat wiring failures are believed to be due to mice.

 

Mouse Control

Bust-A-Bug Pest Management provides comprehensive mice control services in Brentwood, California and throughout most of the Bay Area. We service both residential accounts (including apartments, condos, and other multi-family dwellings) and businesses. Our control methods vary depending on the situation, but typically include a thorough inspection, trapping, and the use of rodenticides.

Exclusion, or "mice-proofing," is provided to our customers upon request. It includes a visual inspection of the house foundation and neighboring fences. Proofing can help reduce mice activity for the long term and it is highly recommended. Not all homes will be capable of being mice proofed, so an inspection will let us know what can be done. If a rodent roof inspection is desired, please mention it. We charge a flat rate of $150 for roof inspections. Once the inspection is finished a verbal and/or written report is provided to our customers with what needs to be fixed. For side doors to the garage or garage doors that require fixing or weather stripping we recommend that the homeowner call a handyman who can do the work. Other smaller holes can be fixed by our tech for a small fee.

Our preferred mice-control sequence is to perform a home inspection first, then use traps to rapidly reduce mice populations as much as possible, and use rodenticides to eliminate rodents coming into the property from outside. We use rodenticides only in inaccessible areas or in tamper-resistant bait stations for the safety of children, pets, and non-target animals.

Please contact us for more information regarding mice abatement or any of our quality pest control services. We look forward to hearing from you.