Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Quick Tips

House Mouse

Published   9/18

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Adult house mouse.

Adult house mouse.

Compared to rats, the head and feet of mice are proportionally smaller.

Compared to rats, the head and feet of mice are proportionally smaller.

Snap traps are a useful management tool.

Snap traps are a useful management tool.

House mice are well adapted to living in close contact with humans and thrive where food and shelter are abundant. They eat and contaminate food supplies and can also transmit disease. Their gnawing activities can damage structures or property. Manage them by cleaning up debris, removing food and shelter, eliminating entryways into buildings, or using traps or baits. High frequency electronic devices aren’t effective.

How to detect a house mouse infestation:

  • Look for droppings, fresh gnaw marks, and tracks, which indicate areas where mice are active.
  • Search behind boxes, in drawers, in garages, or around woodpiles for nests made of finely shredded paper or other fibrous material.
  • Check for the musky odor associated with mice.
  • Mice are most active at night, but you also can see them during daylight hours.

Discourage mice by removing food, water, and shelter and sealing entryways.

  • Good housekeeping within buildings reduces shelter and food for house mice.
  • Seal all structural cracks and openings larger than 1⁄4 inch. Use wire screen or coarse steel wool that mice can’t chew through.
  • Ensure all doors, windows, and screens fit tightly.
  • Feed pets only the amount of food they will eat at a single feeding.
  • Keep all food storage and garbage containers sealed.
  • Thin or remove plants next to or climbing up buildings, since house mice are excellent climbers.

Remove mice from your home by trapping.

  • Snap traps and glue boards are the safest and most economical traps.
  • Place traps in secluded areas along walls, behind objects, in dark corners, and in places where droppings have been found.
  • Dispose of dead rodents by burying or placing them in plastic bags and putting them in the garbage. Don’t touch mice with your bare hands, and wash hands thoroughly after handling traps.

What about pesticides?

  • Avoid using poison baits indoors. Mice can die in hidden places, create bad odors, and be difficult to locate. Seal buildings before baiting outdoors to prevent mice coming indoors to die.
  • Baits generally take several days for effective control.
  • Place baits in tamper-proof bait stations out of reach of children and pets and wildlife. All rodent baits are toxic.

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Minimize the use of pesticides that pollute our waterways. Use nonchemical alternatives or less toxic pesticide products whenever possible. Read product labels carefully and follow instructions on proper use, storage, and disposal.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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