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Mice infestations are incredibly common here in Wisconsin, especially in the fall and winter months when temperatures start to drop. Because of that, we get a lot of questions about these sneaky, quick creatures. We think knowledge is power, so we’re sharing some important insights to help you better understand mice, what attracts them, and how to keep them out of your house. 

What’s the difference between mice and rats?

Generally, you’ll be able to tell the difference between a mouse and a rat by their appearance. We’ll break down a few of the key differences below. 

Size

Mice are generally smaller than rats. They weigh approximately 12-45 grams and are about 3-10 centimeters whereas a rat weighs about 150-300 grams and is about 16-40 centimeters long.  

Ears

Mice are known for their big ears relative to their small size. Rats tend to have smaller ears. 

Tails

Mice have long, thin tails that are covered in hair. Rats, on the other hand, have a thick, hairless tail. 

Droppings

If you don’t see the pests themselves but notice droppings, that can also provide a clue. Mouse droppings are 1-2mm and pointy whereas a rat dropping is 10-20 mm and shaped sort of like a banana. 

When are mice most active? Are mice nocturnal?

Yes, mice are nocturnal, which means they’ll be most active between dusk and dawn foraging for food. That also makes them harder to spot since they’re out and about when we’re typically sleeping. 

A mouse may come out during the day but they generally avoid bright lights and activity. If you do see a mouse during daylight hours, that may be a sign of a large infestation. 

What attracts mice?

Good question! There are a few key things that may be attracting mice to your home, garage, camper, shed, or cabin. 

  • The first is food. Garbage cans and boxes of food in your cupboards are all fair game. Your best bet is to keep your kitchen and pantry areas as clean as possible and use glass or plastic containers to deter mice and other critters. This is especially true in campers and cabins where you aren’t checking cupboards or using up your food supply as quickly.
  • Heat and warmth will also attract mice, especially during those chilly Wisconsin fall and winter months. That’s why they’ll find their way into cracks and crevices and often curl up near warm areas such as behind appliances or near water heaters and heat vents or find their way into your car to escape the elements. Making sure you’re sealing up those cracks and crevices around your home so they aren’t attracted to the warmth is a good first line of defense. 
  • Cluttered areas, such as storage areas and basements, are also a target to mice since it’s easy to hide and there’s generally a plethora of nesting materials. Keeping things clean and organized is a good way to deter mice in these cluttered areas. Plastic storage bins can also be a great alternative to cardboard boxes. 

How do I get rid of mice naturally?

Mice are incredibly persistent, so it can be hard to deter them — especially if you already have an infestation. That being said, there are a few natural, humane remedies that can deter them. 

  • Remove access to food and nesting materials. Again, plastic, glass, and metal containers are good options here. If they don’t have access to these things, they’re less likely to stick around.  
  • There are a variety of smells that are said to deter mice, many of which you might already have on hand. Cayenne pepper, cloves, and peppermint oil have been proven effective. You can put these on cotton balls or make sachets and leave them under beds, in cupboards, and other areas mice tend to hide.  
  • Cats are also a natural predator of mice. If you have a cat, great! If not, don’t worry. You can try putting kitty litter outside your door and use ammonia to mimic the predatory smell. 
  • Irish Spring Soap is said to be another good mice deterrent. Shave it using a grater and place the shreds in areas where you’ve seen mice or signs of a mice infestation.
  • In addition to the natural mice repellents noted above, there’s also a variety of humane live traps you can use. 

As noted above, these are not long-term solutions and have limited effectiveness. If you’re dealing with a large infestation, it is likely time to call in an expert. They can help locate where the mice are getting in and seal off entrances to keep them out on a long-term basis. Otherwise, they’re just going to keep coming back. 

What are typical signs of mice in my house?

We’ve talked about signs of a rodent infestation before, but we’ll share a few of the most common signs.

  • Holes and gnaw marks — especially in your kitchen, pantry, and areas you store food.
  • You hear scampering and rustling as the mice move around at night. 
  • You spot droppings. 

Of course, the larger the infestation is, the more likely it will be that you’ll notice these signs or even spot one of the sneaky critters. You might also notice changes in your pet’s behavior — such as excessive sniffing in a particular area — as they can easily smell mice and other critters. 

What should I do if I see a mouse in my house?

Where there’s one, there are likely others. Oftentimes, an infestation is much larger than homeowners realize, which can make it difficult to handle on your own. If you see a mouse in your home, don’t panic. 

Your best bet is to call a pest control specialist, like the team here at K&C Pest Control. A pest control specialist is able to evaluate the situation, seal small entry holes the mice are using to enter your home, and quickly and efficiently eliminate the problem to prevent further issues or damage. 

If you suspect rodents in your Fox Cities home or business, contact us at 920-582-9000.