Get the 411 on Mice


miceNashville, Murfreesboro, Knoxville and Chattanooga TN

Mice are destructive, especially through their gnawing (the word “rodent” comes from the Latin word rodere, “to gnaw”). They carry bad smells, especially through their waste. They can be dangerous: they gnaw on electrical wires, causing a fire risk; they are known to carry certain illnesses, like hantavirus, and they are often accompanied by ticks.

Mice are small, and because they can compress their bodies, they can get into a house by squeezing through even the smallest holes in windows, doors and door frames, spaces around pipes, and the small space between the base of the wall frame and the ground. They are excellent climbers, which means they enter a house through vents.

Mice are nocturnal and tend to hide from the humans whose space they inhabit. If they are not easily seen, how can people tell if they have mice? There are several, mostly unpleasant signs:

Mice “droppings”

The first and most obvious sign of a mouse (or mice) in the house: droppings. Small and dark, and roughly the size of a grain of rice, they are typically found in areas that are not out in the open: behind a refrigerator, in a pantry or the back of a cabinet or drawer. A single mouse needs to expel waste up to eighty times a night, so where one dropping is found … expect to find a lot. An examination of a dropping that is not dried out is a pretty good sign of recent activity.

Mice don’t just leave behind solid waste. Their urine is very strong and has a noticeable, acrid smell. Furthermore, the urine often combines with dirt, fur, and grease to create so-called “urine pillars,” which are around 2” high and half an inch wide.

Grease rubs

Mice produce a substance called sebum which is not entirely different from a similar oil produced by human skin and hair, and for the same purpose: to keep the hair (or, in this case, fur) healthy. And just as unwashed human hair and skin can leave oily marks on some surfaces, mice can do the same thing. Over time, areas where the mice frequent will have black grease marks, especially in an area of a tight squeeze.

Visible damage

All rodents have very sharp incisor teeth that never stop growing. Since these teeth can ultimately pierce the skull, mice must constantly gnaw to wear down their teeth. Thus, marks on baseboards and sheetrock are a tell-tale sign of mice.

In addition, mice use these teeth to do things like gather material for their nests, create new places for them to hide, and form pathways to find food. Gnaw marks on furniture, drywall, cardboard boxes (especially food containers) and plastic are all indications of a mouse.

Noises at night

Although mice are very careful to avoid being seen and are usually very quiet, they do sometimes make noise (especially at night, when they are awake). Their running around can create a scratching sound, as can their constant gnawing. Unexplained sounds in the walls or ceiling might be a sign of mice.

Reaction of pets

Cats and dogs are naturally inquisitive, and their sense of smell and hearing is much keener than that of people. If a pet starts paying more attention than usual to a particular spot or starts pawing at it, it might well be that they have detected a mouse before its humans have.

Seeing a mouse

While mice, being small, are naturally not inclined to come out in the open (especially during the day), if they do not feel that they are in danger, or their need for food makes them desperate, they can sometimes make an appearance. Alternatively, a cat may catch one or it may die for other reasons, and its body may be in the open. This is a very conclusive sign that the house has – or used to have – at least one mouse, and possibly more.

What to do about mice

If mice are a problem, a qualified exterminator would be invaluable. This is one of many services provided by Ameri Care Services, which has been meeting the pest control needs of Middle Tennessee for 25 years. To get started on the road to a mouse-free home, fill out the form on the website to schedule a visit by a technician.