Mice are inventive, cunning, and adept critters. They are capable of taking up residence in different parts of a structure, including underneath homes. This means that mice are capable of nesting not only in basements, cellars, or crawlspaces but in spaces beneath the first floor of a house, even when there exists no lower level of any type. This article provides you with essential information about how to address an issue where mice have taken up residence under your home.
Signs of Mice Underneath Your Home
There are a number of visual cues that you need to be alert to that can be indicative of mice underneath your residence or of mice attempting to gain such access. These include petit pathways traversing your lawn. In other words, you might have mice underneath your home if there are narrow paths in the lawn or in the dirt surrounding your residence. Mice are likely to use the same pathway to get from one point to another. Hence, over time grass heading to and from your home can end up smashed down, creating a trail. The same type of situation can occur with dirt surrounding your home (like in a flower bed).
Another sign of a mouse issue underneath your home is what can best be described as greasy smudge marks on the foundation at the base of your home. Rodents of different types, including mice, leave what appear like oily smudges on objects like foundations and walls as a means of marking their trails for future reference as well as to delineate their territory. (Although mice instinctively live in colonies, they are territorial animals as well.)
Mice are also highly prone to gnaw on objects of all types. This includes the physical structure of a home and objects around the foundation. Mice, as is the case with all rodents, have incisors that keep growing throughout their life. Thus, they naturally gnaw to trim these teeth. In addition, mice chew through items in order to gain access to a space such as underneath a home.
Mice are adept at gnawing through a wide range of materials. These include wood, brick, sheetrock, some types of siding, mortar, and even deteriorating or improperly cured cement. Thus, if mice have infested or are attempting to infest your home, you very well may see gnaw marks at or near the foundation of your home.
On a related note, if you do identify gaps, cracks, or holes at the foundation level of your home, these very well may be providing rather easy access to mice to the space underneath your residence. Examine these openings for the aforementioned grease marks as well as tufts of fur, signs that mice are using these openings for egress into the space underneath your home. Bear in mind that mice can get through a very small opening, including one that is no larger that a U.S. quarter.
You will also want to examine those junctures near the foundation of where your pipes, electrical utilities, and other items enter. Mice are apt to take advantage of even small gaps or spaces around the conduits providing these items with access to the underbelly of your home.
Droppings are another indication that mice have invaded the area underneath your home. Although you may not be able to identify droppings underneath your home, you may find them in the area surrounding your residence. Mice defecate wherever they happen to be at a particular time, even when they are moving. Thus, if you have mice under your home, you may find droppings around the foundation. This particularly may be the case around entry points used by the rodents to access the area under your home.
In addition to signs of a mouse infestation underneath your home found around the exterior of your residence, you can also find evidence of mice in residence inside your house as well. These signs include:
- Gnaw marks or holes chewed by mice into the floor or baseboards.
- Droppings, particularly near these openings but also in other points in the home, including near walls and in more secluded locations inside the premises.
- Squeaking or squealing sounds (more likely after sunset and before dawn, because mice are generally nocturnal animals)
- Scratching sounds (likely at night)
- Scurrying sounds (likely at night)
- Urine smell
Preventing a Mouse Infestation Underneath Your Home
There are some very specific strategies that you need to consider implementing promptly in order to prevent a mouse infestation underneath your residence. You need to consider taking these steps immediately, even if there exists absolutely no evidence that mice have been in or around your home. In the grand scheme of things, proactive prevention is far and away the best way to deal with a mice issue at your home. These proactive prevention steps include:
- Repair or replace deteriorating foundation material.
- Seal any gaps around utility service entry points near the foundation.
- Eliminate any shrubs, bushes, or other foliage directly growing against the exterior of your home.
- Keep the lawn neatly cut and eliminate any debris from the yard or garden.
- Stow firewood two to five feet off the ground at least 20 feet from the exterior of your home.
- Develop a protective zone of gravel around the immediate perimeter of your home about 12 to 18 inches in diameter – a sort of no-mouse land that mice will be inclined to avoid.
- Eliminate any standing water near your home, particularly next to exterior walls.
Dangers of a Mouse Infestation Underneath Your Home
You must not underestimate the potential dangers or hazards presented by mice that have taken up occupancy underneath your home. You need to consider the area beneath your home for exactly what it is – a direct extension of the living spaces in your residence.
When mice occupy the space underneath your home, these rodents can end up causing significant physical damage to the premises. As mentioned previously, mice gnaw on the physical structure of a home as well as on objects in or at a residence. This can include everything from supportive elements of a residence like posts and beans to electrical wires and their safety coating.
In addition, mice can be the carriers of disease, including serious ones like hantavirus or salmonella. Just because mice are nesting below your home doesn’t mean that they are not accessing your living space. You run the risk of exposure to mouse-borne diseases when these rodents take up residence anywhere in your home.