There’s a Mouse in the House!

Small, furry, and fast, there’s nothing quite like being visited or invaded by a mouse or mice. Many people still call it a “house mouse”, as if it were a special breed of mouse that lived only in houses. The fact is there are several varieties of mice (plural of “mouse”) on earth today, normally characterized by small size, a pointed nose surrounded by furiously twitching whiskers. Small rounded ears, a scaly (hairless) tail as long as its body, shiny curious eyes, along with the ability to breed like coat hangers, combine to produce a cute pest.

Native to central Asia, Mus musculus is commonly the species we see disappearing around a corner in the garage. Although it is an “outdoors” mammal, mice adapt quite happily to human habitat where food and shelter are unknowingly provided for them.

Their presence is an issue however, as mice contaminate food with urine and droppings, plus carrying the Hantavirus and salmonellosis, both of which can be transmitted to humans.

Entering dwellings through holes the size of dimes, points of entry include utility pipes, dryer vents, even holes in foundations that allow access to basements or garages, these half-ounce rodents are equal-opportunity pests.

With several points of entry available to them, preventing them from making entry is still the first and best line of defense. Wire mesh, window screening (the galvanized kind), caulking, and other exclusion materials available at the local hardware store are effective but check periodically to be sure they stay securely in place.

Getting in and keeping them out are two sides of the same coin, but once they’re inside, options for removing them run from repelling to trapping to baiting, or a combination. While repelling is usually the least toxic solution, it does not eliminate the critter, only sends it packing elsewhere. For more permanent options, trapping or baiting is preferred. Even with traps, live-trapping is non-lethal, while snap traps are old-fashioned but effective at a permanent level. Placing traps where mice have been spotted is more effective than random placement. Along baseboards in kitchens, pantries and garages, traps baited with cheese, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, or gumdrops can draw more than a mouse so be sure baited traps are not accessible to other pets and small children.

By Sallie Lee, Urban Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System.  Contact Sallie at

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) operates as the primary outreach organization for the land-grant functions of Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities. ACES is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workforce.  Educational programs of ACES serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or national origin.

Alabama Extension

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System operates as the primary outreach organization for the land-grant functions of Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities and answers home-gardeners' questions each week on Birmingham Gardening Today.

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