Mice are one of many overwintering pests — these pests that enter our homes when temperatures drop to escape the harsh outdoor elements. They use our homes to find warm places to nest and reproduce, and to forage for food and water. Rodents infest our homes for their very survival. Just like humans, they are not equipped to handle cold temperatures for extended periods of time and do not have the mechanisms of other animals and rodents to survive the winter outdoors. We don’t welcome them into our homes because they are bad houseguests. They contaminate food and food surfaces and their droppings can spread a variety of serious diseases. Often, homeowners will find evidence of a mouse infestation, especially droppings, long before an actual mouse sighting. Mice are nocturnal and do their foraging in the quiet of the night.
Should you discover mouse droppings in your home (often in cabinets and under appliances) or food that has mysteriously relocated., the best thing to do is contact a pest control professional to perform a thorough inspection. Mice reproduce quickly and DIY interventions tend to be ineffective. A technician has the experience to find the often hidden access points around the home’s perimeter such as around gas lines, water lines, connections to air conditioning units, and wires that are entering the home. Because of their size, mice can enter through the smaller of openings — even an opening the size of a dime is enough. With a trained eye, we can spot problem areas relatively quickly and formulate a plan to resolve the infestation. Mice are a bona fide health hazard for a household and time is critical.
In this Toms River, NJ home, there were several pipes that entered the home directly beneath the bathroom. The homeowner found droppings underneath the bathroom sink. In the basement, she saw that an old exhaust line was wide open to the outside, and she shoved an old t-shirt in the opening until we could come out to investigate. For the basement inspection, I turned off all the basement lights to scan the perimeter in the dark. I was looking for any spots where daylight was entering. As a general rule, if a gap is big enough to allow light in, it’s usually large enough to allow rodents in as well, and it should be considered a potential rodent entry point.
With chew-proof steel wool and expandable foam, I methodically plugged each of the openings. After sealing the openings, I placed two exterior rodent bait stations were the pipes were entering the home and placed several interior bait stations along the sill plates. Pacing these stations both inside and outside will resolve the current infestation by eliminating mice inside the home and prevent any future re-infestations by blocking exterior entry points. I recommend that every home has an annual interior and exterior perimeter inspection to locate and seal these openings. Over time, caulk and clay used to seal these openings breaks down from exposure to the elements. If the homeowner does not have the mobility, time, or interest to do a thorough inspection, it is worthwhile contacting a pest control service. Preventing a rodent infestation is far easier and less anxiety-causing than treating one.