When Are Mice Most Active?

Mice like warm safe places

Hearing scratching or rustling in your walls? Wondering why mice are suddenly so active? Believe it or not, there are times when mice become more active. Like many animals, mice have daily and seasonal trends. We’ll answer the question “When are mice most active?” and tell you what you can do about it.

Mice grow more desperate as temperatures drop. Come fall and winter, your home looks pretty inviting to a shivering mouse. Make sure your home is mouse-proof and that you know who to call if mice do get in.

Are Mice Active During the Day?

No. Mice are nocturnal creatures that prefer the cover of night for a variety of reasons. Mouse eyes are sensitive to bright lights, and they navigate using smell or touch more than sight. They’ve also learned that foraging is safer when predators aren’t active – i.e., while you’re in bed.

To know if mice are running rampant during the wee hours, look for these signs of mice in your home:

  • Chewed food packages or containers.
  • Mouse droppings.
  • Grease trails along baseboards.
  • Footprints
  • Squeaking and scratching sounds.

Mice maintain a small territory and usually nest 10-30 feet away from their food supply. Keep close watch around your kitchen and pantry and look for signs of nests.

Can Mice Survive Freezing Temperatures?

Mice and rats don’t hibernate. To survive winter, they have to find a warm place to live. In the wild, mice build burrows beneath the snow. They create a network of tunnels to travel through but maintain a low level of activity.

If mice can find a better option, say a nice warm home with plenty of food, they’ll likely take it. By November, mice are feeling an understandable pressure to get a move on. If they’re not already in your home, then they’re trying to get in. Late in the season, mice may become bolder and stay out longer in a last-ditch attempt to find shelter.

Unfortunately, mice also reproduce and rear offspring in their nests all year round. That mouse that snuck in can easily become a family of mice. They also continue feeding and teething all year, damaging your food and home in the process.

Bread crumbs left by mice

How Mice Survive the Winter

A mouse’s top priority in November is simply to keep warm. The minute they sense temperatures dropping, they’ll start actively seeking out sources of warmth. That being said, Mice can’t survive winter just by keeping warm; they also need to keep eating, drinking, and growing.

Unsurprisingly, mice are not picky eaters. They’ll chow down on just about anything, and they don’t need much. Mice have incredibly keen noses. They can smell dry goods through packaging and walls. You can assume mice know pretty much exactly where food is at all times. They can subsist on crumbs, garbage, or unsecured dry goods very easily. Finally, mice need a tiny amount of moisture and a place to hide. If your home provides these things, it’s the perfect winter destination.

How mice get into your home

Mice not only smell food through walls, but they can also follow the scent it produces. Often, mice will catch a tantalizing whiff of something and follow it to a tiny opening. They only need a hole the size of a dime to squeeze their way into your home. In some cases, they can even make an opening if there is soft material to gnaw.

Mice don’t just smell their way in, either. They’re also extremely attuned to changes in air pressure and temperature. As they make their way around a home, they can actually feel tiny drafts created by holes. They can follow that sense of warmth all the way through a hole and into your home. Mice are also surprisingly proficient climbers. Given an opportunity, they’ll crawl up to any opening they can get–even if that opening’s on your roof!

preventing mouse infestations by sealing your home

How to prevent mice infestations in Your Home

Mice get into homes by following small drafts back to their sources. Preventing them means finding these sources before they can. Start in your basement and look for any cracks, gaps, or holes in and around your walls. Pay special attention to window and door frames, areas around utility lines, and baseboards. Patch up holes with caulk or steel wool, which will help deter rats and mice. Remember: any hole that’s big enough to notice is probably big enough for mice to use.

Keep mice from getting to food by storing all pantry foods in airtight, hard plastic containers. Consider keeping these containers in elevated shelves, rather than near the floor. Keep your food preparation and dining areas clean, especially during the winter. Vacuum and/or mop regularly, clean surfaces after every meal, and don’t let crumbs accumulate. Make sure you don’t let garbage pile up, either.

Mice Control for Michigan, Indiana and Ohio

The bad news: there’s never really an “off-season” when it comes to mouse infestations. But we have good news, too. No matter how relentless or desperate the mouse, we can keep them out of your home for good.

If you do end up with mice activity in your home, give Griffin a call. Mice never take a season off, so neither do we. We’re always happy to help you leave pests out in the cold.

Signs You Have a Mouse in Your House

Mouse that's entered a house

All of the signs of mice in your home stem from different mouse needs. Mice sharpen their teeth on soft material, leaving behind gnaw marks. They leave droppings wherever they nest. They’ll damage containers to access food. Understanding mice needs helps you spot the signs of mice in your home.

Spotting signs of mice in your home is important because, in turn, the faster you spot them, the faster you can intercept and end possible mouse infestations before they get out of hand. Mice tend to reproduce indoors rather quickly, so you’ll have to act fast! Here are each of the common signs of mice in your home to watch out for, what they mean, and what you should do about them:

Droppings

Mouse droppings

Mouse droppings are dark brown or black, around ¼ to ½ an inch long, and shaped like a thin spindle, pill, pellet, or thin grain of rice. They usually look and feel dry and brittle. As droppings dry, they flake and break apart, which will make them look like dirt.

A single mouse can produce up to 1% of its weight in droppings in a single day. Mice tend to poop in straight lines because they follow set pathways to navigate through your home safely. Look for straight lines of rice-shaped droppings around baseboarding, wall corners, and under furniture. The more droppings you find, the more mice you probably have.

Gnaw Marks & Damaged Wiring

Container with mouse damage

Rodent incisors never stop growing. To compensate, mice have to teethe throughout their lives. They’re constantly gnawing on any soft material they can find, including wood, paper, cloth and other fabrics… and, unfortunately, electrical wiring. Over time, mice can leave behind distinctive gnaw marks on this material and even begin to cause dangerous damage.

Mice generally gnaw on soft materials at night, around where they nest and hide during the day. Look for damaged wires, chewed cardboard and other paper products, torn up fabric and furniture, ruined insulation, and gnawed wood, especially in any unfinished parts of your home such as your basement or crawl space. If you find damaged wiring, give us a call right away!

Damaged Food Containers

Mice eating noodles from a bag in a pantry

Mice need to eat. That means if mice are going to stay inside your home for any extended period of time, they have to eat inside your home, too. Mice are omnivorous and notoriously interested in quantity rather than quality. They’re even more interested in consistency. Mice want a food source they can return to time and time again.

Consequently, mice love to break into packaged food – particularly packaged food that you don’t use or deplete very quickly. Look for damaged dry goods such as bird seed, pet food, flour, nuts, seeds, and anything else you keep in dry storage. Mice dig their way inside food containers and help themselves as long as they can. The trick to keeping them from living near you perpetually is to make sure that isn’t long.

Nests

Mouse nest

Rodent nests aren’t exactly as elaborate as the bird’s nests you’re used to associating with the word. In fact, they probably won’t look “nest-like” at all. Mice build small nests out of any reclaimed soft material they’ve gnawed away. This could include paper, insulation, fabric, or pretty much any other scraps of garbage they can (literally) sink their teeth into.

Mice are nocturnal and spend most of their time sleeping or hiding in dark, sheltered areas. These areas also tend to be where they build their nests and raise their young. Look for small, dirty clumps of soft debris under furniture, in underutilized corners, under racks and shelving, and pretty much anywhere else where mice could sneak around and hide without fear of being bothered.

Dirty Wall Markings

Dirty wall markings left on the walls of a home by mice

Rodents actually have very poor eyesight. In order to move around your home safely, they tend to stick to paths they know, running their bodies along a wall or object to make sure they’re not lost. The longer mice stick to a particular path, the more of their body grease and dirt rubs off on the walls and objects they rub up against.

Mice generally run along the perimeter of the rooms they inhabit. Check for dark, greasy smudge marks along the baseboarding in your basement or closets. Look for fur, gnaw marks, and the other signs included on this list along the path as you follow it for more evidence of infestation.

 What to Do if You Have Mice

If you find any of these… ahem… telltale signs of mice infestation in your home, then it means the time to take action is now. The longer mice live in your home, the harder they are to remove.

The best way to take action is, of course, to give Griffin Pest Solutions a call right away. Our experts specialize in mouse control that keeps the repugnant rodents away for good. Let us know whenever you need our help, and we’ll be there faster than even the most enterprising mouse could make itself at home – no ifs, ants, or bugs!

Want a quick way to reference the signs of mice in your house while you’re tracking down your mice? Keep this trusty infographic with you and you’ll always know what to look for:

signs you have a mouse in your house

Why Do I Have a Rodent Problem?

Rodents like rats and mice are clever, capable creatures. If there’s a way into your home and they want to come inside for any reason, they’ll find their way in. Most homes deal with a rodent problem at one time or another. There’s only one side to dealing with rodents: it’s a learning experience. 

Once you know why you have a rodent problem, you can figure out how to prevent them in the future. We can help with that. There are several steps to preventing future rodent infestations. First: identify the “what”: your current infestation. When you’ve confirmed you have a rodent problem, figure out the “why”: what made rodents want to get inside? Once you’ve figured out the why, the last step is the “how”: how were rodents able to get inside? After you’ve identified the “why” and “how,” you can make sure the “what” isn’t a problem again. Here’s where to start:

The What: do I have a rodent infestation?

If you already know in no uncertain terms that you have a rodent problem, then you can skip this step. If you suspect but you aren’t sure, however, you’ll have to start looking for the following signs. Rodents are quite sneaky, but even the most clever of rats and mice leave behind telltale signs of their presence. Signs like: 

  • Waste and droppings. If you have a large rodent problem, the rats and mice may leave behind dozens of small, tapered, dark brown pellets around your home or business every night. Look for these droppings where rodents typically live: in your basement, crawl space, or closets.
  • Grease marks. Most rodents have poor eyesight during the day. They move around homes by rubbing against baseboards and walls as guides. As they rub up against these surfaces, they’ll leave behind a grease stain over time. Look for these grease stains along the lower edge of walls in your basement. 
  • The sound of little paws. Rodents don’t sleep all day, every day. If they’re in your home, you’ll be able to hear them at some point. Listen for distinct scratching or scrabbling sound within walls and ceilings. Rodents are generally active at night, so you may hear them with more regularity late. 
  • Chew marks. Does your phone charger look worse for wear? Are there little bites taken out of boxes in the pantry? You might have rodents chewing on your possessions.

The Why: Why did rodents choose my home?

Rodents are attracted to any place that can provide their main needs: food, shelter, and water. Those are the things rodents want no matter the time of year. The most common of these draws are:

  • Accessible warmth. This is an especially huge draw during the fall and winter months. Most rodents are looking for a safe place to nest during the cold months. Keep a close eye on the places they use to get inside this winter. 
  • Food waste. Rodents will eat just about anything, including dairy, meat, vegetables, fruit, grain, fur, and trash. They’re usually drawn in by food debris near garbage cans, baseboards, and other out of the way places.
  • Plumbing leaks. We’ve already mentioned that rodents are drawn in by their three main needs. Food and shelter have been covered, but what about water? The most likely places for rodents to get water access are at plumbing leaks. They’ll drink from leaks in worn down pipes, loose joints, dripping faucets. They’re especially fond of exploiting the kinds of hidden leaks you don’t even realize you have. If you’ve noticed your water bill rising, you may have a hidden leak. Get in touch with plumbers to make sure your pipes aren’t drawing unwanted pests.
  • Clutter and debris. Rodents are shy. They’ll spend their time inside your home sneaking around and hiding. An especially cluttered or dirty house makes this easier for them. Pests can’t spread if they aren’t given the space and privacy to do so. Keep your space clean and organized to take away a rodent’s chance to build a secret nest.

The How: How did rodents get inside my property?

Rats and other rodents are capable of squeezing through holes or cracks that are less than an inch wide in diameter. This means that keeping them out is difficult and requires near-constant vigilance. By protecting their main entry points, you can help prevent infestations. These main entry points include:

  • Cracks in walls. This includes brick, cement, and stone exteriors. Small holes can be filled with caulk. Larger ones can be blocked with sealant.
  • Vents. If a rodent can get into a vent, it can use it to get into your home. You can prevent their entry without interrupting your vents output by covering vents with metal screening.
  • Chimneys. Not only are chimneys dark and out of the way, they’re warm too. Make sure your chimney is regularly cleaned and has a working grate or cap.
  • Window frames. Window frames have caulk and, in some cases, screens. Holes can develop and caulk can crumble, making entrance points.

Bringing it all together: How can I prevent future rodent problems?

Preventing future rodent problems depends on a few things. First, you need to figure out where they’re most likely to sneak in. Try to find these access points mentioned above around door and window frames, baseboard, utility lines, and other cracks and gaps. Seal and block these off wherever you can.

Second, try to make sure rodents couldn’t get the things they want inside your home even if they could get inside. Keep pantry foods in sealable, airtight plastic containers at all times. Keep garbage in sealable plastic bags and take it outside to the dumpster every night. Repair plumbing leaks and clean up spills immediately. Clean up after every meal and keep your kitchen, bathrooms, closets, and basements decluttered and clean. 

The last, best thing you can do to prevent future rodent problems is call Griffin Pest Solutions today. We’ll be able to tell you exactly how your rodents got into your home, remove them, and help make sure they can’t come back again.

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Everything You Should Know About Rodents Near You

Rodent peeking out through damage in a wooden log. Everything you should know about the rodents near you.

October 20 to 26 is the Professional Pest Management Alliance’s sixth annual Rodent Awareness Week. It couldn’t be happening at a more relevant time. According to a recent study, rodents are the greatest pest concern facing American homes today. Rats and mice invade 21 million homes every year, mostly in fall! Despite how common they are, however, rodent behavior isn’t very well understood. For instance, did you know that rodents are found in bathrooms twice as frequently as other rooms? The best way to prevent rodent infestations now and in the future is to understand them better.

We want to help! That’s why, in honor of Rodent Awareness Week, Griffin put together this primer on everything you should know about the rats and mice near you. This is what rodents want, how they get into your home, and how you can keep them out for good:

What do rodents want?

Rodents want shelter, warmth, food, and humidity–usually in that order. They enter homes in late summer and fall in order to escape the freezing temperatures of winter. Once inside, they’ll stick around if they can get their paws on food and water. Rats and mice look for warm, dark, narrow, humid shelters where they can find food and water.

How do rodents find homes to infest?

Rodents are very sensitive to temperature and pressure fluctuations. These sensitivities help rodents understand when the season is changing faster than we possibly could. As soon as they sense outdoor temperature chances, rodents start looking for the warmth and pressure differentials created by drafts. When they find drafts, they’ll follow the warmth inside.

In addition to temperature and pressure sensitivity, rodents also possess a highly-developed sense of smell. This sense of smell allows them to sniff out specific information about food, including the best way to get to it. Rodents literally “follow their noses” all the way inside your home. 

Rodent chewing on sunflower seeds near a home

How do rodents get into homes?

Rodents make their way inside by sneaking through tiny, draft-producing nooks and crannies located all around homes. Mice and rats are notorious for their ability to squeeze through tiny gaps. They tend to typically find these gaps in a few particularly likely places, including:

  • Door and window frames
  • Gaps around utility lines
  • Cracks in baseboarding and foundations
  • Breaches in vents or pipes
  • Damaged or rotting siding or shingles

Wait, why are they in my bathroom?

Rodents love moisture, warmth, and darkness. Bathrooms typically provide plenty of all three, particularly if they’re in your basement. Rats and mice live in bathrooms to soak up humidity and warmth and drink condensation. Occasionally, rodents may even swim up through damaged plumbing pipes to enter your home.

rodent climbing on an electrical wire

Why are they a problem?

Rodents are surprisingly dangerous in homes for several reasons. Here are the main reasons you never want rats or mice to establish themselves in your home:

  • Fire Damage: Did you know that 25% of the house fires attributed to “unknown causes” were probably caused by rodents? Rats and mice chew through electrical wiring, which can generate sparks and start fires.
  • Health Concerns: Rat and mice feces, saliva, blood, and fur transmit several dangerous diseases. Rodents may also carry diseased fleas or other parasites.
  • Food Damage: Rats and mice in your home will make a beeline for any pantry food they can find. The damage they inflict can get surprisingly expensive surprisingly quickly!
  • Wood, Fabric, and Paper Damage: Rodents constantly gnaw on any soft materials they can find, tearing them up in the process. Rodent infestations end up damaging wood, fabric, and paper products in your home.

How can I tell if I have a rodent problem?

Unfortunately, if you happen mice or rat inside your home, chances are they aren’t alone. Even if you don’t see your rodent, however, there are a few ways to figure out if they’re hiding near you. Look for the following signs:

  • ¼ to ½ inch long black droppings that look pellet or spindle-shaped
  • Damaged electrical cables or wiring
  • Gnaw marks on cardboard boxes, drapes, upholstery, wooden furniture, or even carpet
  • Damaged food packaging
  • Collections of dirty, soft material like paper, insulation, cardboard, or plastic
  • Dirty or greasy markings along the lower parts of walls

How can I keep them out of my home?

Start by cutting off their access to your home. Repair weaknesses you find around the usual sites up above using caulk, weatherproofing, spackle, or another sealant. If an opening is big enough to see, it’s probably big enough for rodents to use. Pay particular attention to drafty or humid parts of your home such as basements and bathrooms.

When you’re finished rodent-proofing access points, make the rest of your home as inhospitable to rats and mice. Keep your the floor of your basement, crawl spaces, pantries, and attics as clean and clear as possible. Elevate all storage materials, especially cardboard boxes and linen garment bags. Store your pantry food in airtight hard plastic containers. You should even keep your lawn as clear as possible. The harder it is for rodents to hide near you, the greater the distance they’ll keep.

 

Once rodents have established themselves inside your home, they can be difficult to remove without serious help. Luckily, you have serious help–you have Griffin Pest Solutions. 

Our experts can find rodent infestations, remove them, and make sure they can’t get in again. If you become a little too aware of rodents this Rodent Awareness Week, give us a call anytime. We’ve yet to meet a rodent infestation we couldn’t beat.

What Do Rodents Want This Fall?

Rodent near a pumpkin. What do rodents want this fall?

Autumn is a lovely time of year. The overbearing heat of the Midwest summer leaves us alone as the temperatures start to shift. Leaves change color, pumpkin spice becomes the flavor du jour, and everyone starts wearing socks again. In the middle of these positive changes comes one not-so-positive change, however. Rodents start finding their way inside homes and businesses. 

Just like you pull sweaters out of storage as the temps turn, rodents start looking for similar, reliable warmth. If you’re not careful, they’ll find it in your home. This is what attracts rodents to your home this fall, how they get inside, and how to keep them out.

What attracts rodents in fall?

The simplest answer is food and warmth. Cooling temperatures trigger a response in rodents and mice to seek out warmth and shelter. Rodents are extremely sensitive to temperature and pressure fluctuations, so they may sense the changing season before you do! 

When rodents sense cooling air temperatures, they also start fattening themselves up. They’ll seek out high sugar and fat foods, and in larger quantities than usual. Both rats and mice have an exceptional sense of smell. They can smell all the food they want while its inside your home–often while it’s still in its packaging! If they smell the food they want in your home, they’ll try to get it. Fall is a time of survival for rodents. Any place that provides them the things they need to last the winter is a target.

How do rodents get inside during fall?

Rodents are clever creatures. They’re capable of fitting into breaches as small as a quarter. If rodents get into your home, they found one of these breaches. The pests commonly enter homes via crumbling foundation, broken screens, vents, attic insulation, window and door frames, and pipes. You should see all areas that you need to monitor regularly. 

Monitoring entry points doesn’t take much work. We recommend simply conducting a weekly or bi-weekly inspection of your home. Check for any damage such as torn screens, gaps between utility lines, or torn insulation. By minimizing potential entry points, you’ll significantly you significantly lessen your chance of any infestation, including rodents.

How can I keep them out?

Not letting them in in the first place is the first step. After that, you want to be cognizant of the things that draw pests like rodents. They’re not just looking for shelter, they’re looking for food and water as well. Clean and well-maintained garbage cans are less likely to draw pests than dirty ones filled with food waste. 

Fix dripping or leaking pipes immediately so they don’t have a chance to create pest-adored standing water. Maintain your landscape to avoid giving rodents hiding places they can use to approach your home. If they have cover to hide in close to the perimeter of your home, they’re more likely to take the jump indoors. 

 

If you suspect you have a rat or rodent problem, get in touch with Griffin Pest Solutions immediately. Our integrated approach to pest management will draw unwelcome visitors out and keep them from returning. That way you can get back to enjoying the fall properly: in flannel, pumpkin spice latte in hand.

How Did I Get Mice?

Mouse peeking out of a small mouse hole in a home's wall next to an electric outlet

Mice can squeeze through any gap that’s at least ¼ of an inch wide–about the size of a dime! They find these gaps by following the smell of food or feeling of air pressure differentials created by drafts. Mice are very adept climbers, so they can reach gaps anywhere around your home.

After using tiny gaps to sneak inside, mice can reproduce all year as long as they have food. Mice had to sneak in originally, but many of the mice you find in your home were likely born there. The best way to keep mice out of your home for good is to seal off their access points. These are the four most common ways mice get inside homes and how you can mouseproof them.

Frames

Believe it or not, door and window frames are probably the access points mice use most. Wooden frames naturally warp and bend over time, creating small gaps between the window or door and the frame. Likewise, the weatherproofing wears down or unpeals. Eventually, tiny gaps appear between the door or window and frame or the walls and the frame. These gaps may not be large enough to see, but they’re large enough for mice to use.

Conduct a quick maintenance inspection on each of your door and window frames every spring and fall. Replace any weatherproofing that looks worn down or damaged. Check to make sure the doors and windows sit in the frame properly and don’t feel too tense or loose. Patch up any cracks or gaps you find around the wood itself using caulk. If you can feel a draft, it means your frame isn’t as secure as it should be. Find the gap sucking hot air out and patch it up.

Utility Lines

Utility lines are the pipes, wires, and vents bringing gas, electricity, heat, and plumbing into your home. All homes need to have small gaps in their walls to allow these utility lines inside. The problem is, mice can find these gaps by following the utility lines. They’ll sense heat given off by ventilation or hot water and follow that heat through the wall. Gaps between walls and utility lines may expand over time, making the gap an even more attractive access point.

Starting outside, walk the perimeter of your home looking for each area where a utility line enters the building. Look near your HVAC, your power meter, your sump pump, your light fixtures, and your outdoor faucets. If you see a visible gap between these pipes or wires and the wall, patch that gap with caulk. When you’re done outside, go inside and do the same thing. Replace these caulk barriers around once a season to make sure they don’t wear away.

A small gap between a basement's wall and its concrete floor. Mice often sneak through the space gaps like these create.

Subterranean Gaps

Over time, cracks and gaps may open up around the foundation, siding, or the baseboarding of your home. These could occur because of weather damage, wood rot, or natural wear-and-tear. However they happen, small gaps and cracks around your home’s foundation start to create drafts. These kinds of drafts are particularly common in unfinished basements. Mice are very sensitive to temperature and pressure differentials. When they sense the hot air shooting out of gaps in a home, they’ll follow it inside.

Start in your basement or lowest level this time. Look for cracks and gaps in the floor and ceiling. Pay particular attention to corners, windows, baseboard, and frames. Seal any gaps you can find with silicone caulk or steel wool. Remember: if a crack or gap is big enough to see, it’s probably big enough for mice to use. Just like before, when you’re done inside you should look for cracks and gaps outside, too.

Roofing

Mice are surprisingly adept climbers. Most mice are capable of climbing most homes without much difficulty by finding downspouts, wires, or other holds. Mice can also access rooftops by climbing up nearby trees or bushes and crawling along overhanging branches. Unfortunately, the fact that mice can climb so well means no access point is safe. Mice don’t just sneak inside from the ground; they could be sneaking in from the roof, too!

Even worse, roofs tend to have all kinds of neglected access points. Mice can exploit rotting shingles, ventilation outlets that aren’t covered, chimneys, cracked gutters, and more. If you have roofing damage, mice will likely use that damage as a means of entering your home. You should have your roof inspected at least once every few years. Check for cracked shingles, rot, and other possible damage. You should also always block your vents and chimneys with mesh.

 

The best way to prevent mouse infestations is to continuously monitor and block off access points. Check each of the most vulnerable areas every spring and fall to make sure you’re still covered. If you stay on top of your access point maintenance, you’ll keep mice from infesting your home for good.

If you already have a mouse infestation inside your home, even blocking off access points won’t help right away. Instead, you’ll have to call the pros at Griffin Pest Solutions. We can drive out mice and make sure they can’t get in again. Mouse season is starting right now, so if you think you have a problem, get in touch right away! We’ll help make sure you have a rodent-free fall.