Mice in the house nibble in the kitchen

mouse on kitchen floorMice can be a common problem in kitchens, as they are attracted by the abundance of food, warmth and shelter on offer. Mice are also under constant threat from predators and so will only feel safe if they have somewhere secure and secluded to hide. They are likely to come in as the weather turns cold in search of dry harbourages or seeking new food sources.

Although mice may shelter in kitchens, they are quite happy to set up home in other areas of your property and commute for their food;

  • Attics & lofts – are favourite locations as mice can sneak in directly through gaps in roof tiles, under eaves, holes for pipework or cabling. Once inside they have loft insulation, cardboard boxes and their contents to use as nesting materials.
  • Beneath floorboards & hidden voids – areas that are hidden from our view and often overlooked, such as false ceilings or cavity walls. Mice feel secure in these confined spaces and are excellent climbers using pipes, cabling and cavities to navigate their way around a building.
  • Garages & basements – damaged air vents, gaps around pipework or small cracks in brickwork can enable mice to get into cellars or basements. Garages, particularly integral garages offer mice easy access to other areas of a property and materials to use for nesting.

Food mice like to eat

mouse with jam potGiven the choice, mice will look for carbohydrate and sugar-rich foods to eat, that deliver the most energy. Anything from rice and pasta to chocolate and peanut butter, even your favourite breakfast cereal or your pet’s food maybe eaten by mice. However, they will nibble at almost anything as their front incisors never stop growing, so they need to constantly gnaw to wear them down. This can include paper, cardboard, insulation materials and cloth that they may use for nesting materials. Other items that you may find nibble marks on are wires, cabling, wood and plastic items.

Storing food appropriately is the first step in keeping mice at bay. Food should be stored in strong, sealed containers to prevent mice gaining access and to minimise any smells that may attract them.

In addition, all food waste should be double bagged and placed in bins with secure lids. It’s important to assess the volume of waste produced and check that your bin is able to cope with this without overflowing. Place rubbish in external bins or, if you live in a managed block, take it to the communal waste area on a daily basis.

mouse using pipework gapsPreventing mice from getting in by mouse proofing your property is also very important. Ensure that there are no gaps at the bases of external doors and that there are no gaps around pipe work entering the building, both of which can give mice easy access to your property.

If you think you might have mice in your home, look for the following signs:

  1. Smell and sound – Mice produce a musty ammonia like smell, particularly in confined spaces. You’re also likely to hear scrabbling or scratching sounds at night when they’re present, often in walls or between floors.
  2. Mouse droppings - Mice droppings are typically 3 – 4 mm long, spindle shaped and scattered randomly as they forage.
  3. Grease marks - You may notice grease smear marks from mice brushing up against walls, kitchen counters and cupboards and dark smears around holes or around corners, on regular routes they use.
  4. Damage - Perhaps one of the first signs of mouse activity will be the presence of damaged food and food packaging in cupboards, larders or items stored in garages like pet food.

By knowing the signs of mice to look out for and by taking simple, practical preventative steps, you can greatly reduce the chances of playing host to these unwanted visitors. If however, you do discover a problem with mice it is important to act swiftly, and consult a professional pest controller to get rid of a mouse infestation before it can grow.

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