House mice are usually gray with cream-colored bellies. Their fur color may vary from light brown to dark gray, though, depending on where the mouse lives.
They have four legs and a round body. Their muzzles are pointed, and their ears are large with little hair.
The body of a house mouse is anywhere between 2.5 and 3.75 inches long, while its tail is typically 2.75 to 4 inches long.
These rodents breed rapidly, with each female often giving birth to half a dozen babies every three weeks. A female house mouse can have up to 35 young every year.
Are House Mice Dangerous?
Although they are not typically dangerous, house mice can damage appliances, furniture, and even cause electrical fires when they gnaw through wires. They often get into your house to seek shelter from outdoor conditions. During the cold fall and winter months, mice will make their way into your home, and it may only be a short period before you’re dealing with an infestation.
After that, the real danger that most often comes with house mice is the possibility of transmitting disease. These little rodents may carry disease-causing bacteria such as salmonella on their bodies. They can easily contaminate food sources, kitchen surfaces, and equipment as they move about the house.
Do House Mice Have Rabies?
According to the CDC, mice are almost never found to have rabies. Therefore, they are not often known to transmit rabies to humans. However, house mice can spread dozens of other diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly. Transmission mainly occurs through contact with the rodent, their feces, urine, or saliva. The diseases that are carried by mice can also be indirectly spread to humans through mites or fleas that have fed on an infected mouse.
Do House Mice Bite?
Generally, a house mouse won’t bite you unless you try to catch it. They’re shy and will choose to stay hidden, only coming out when they think you’re not around.
Mice are not strictly predatory; they are omnivores that prefer to eat cereal, seeds, insects, nuts, and fruits. When they’re in your house, mice will eat almost anything you have for food. However, most prefer grain-based products.
Why Do I Have Mice In My House?
Normally, mice live outside, where there’s plenty of food. However, they may turn to your house for two main reasons: easy access to food and shelter. Mice know how to look for food and will not pass up the opportunity to eat little bits of food that you drop on the floor. They are also wary of the cold winter months and will use any crack they can fit through to take shelter in the warmth of your house.
How to Know Your House Is Infested by Mice
A mouse infestation is not only unpleasant but is also difficult to deal with.
Here’s how to tell whether your house has been invaded by these little rodents:
Droppings. If you find little rod-shaped droppings that are pointed on the ends, you may have some mice in your house. The droppings measure about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch long.
Gnaw marks. Little gnaw marks on household items or food containers are telltale signs that your house may be hosting mice.
Footprints. House mice tracks are generally easy to identify. They usually leave 4-toed prints with their front feet and 5-toed prints with their hind feet.
Rub marks. Look for oily rub marks along a wall where house mice might travel.
Odor. When mice live in a particular place in the house, they use it as their toilet as well, so you may notice a distinct smell of house mouse urine. Their fairly strong urine helps mice communicate with each other.
Runways. If there are a number of mice in your house, they will use the same route to move from one place to another. These pathways are lined with rub marks, droppings, and footprints.
Burrows. Since mice like to burrow, you may find burrows that contain nesting materials.
Actual sighting. Normally, a mouse won’t come out if you're around and moving about. Sometimes, however, one will scurry across the floor or some other surface in your presence. This is a sign that there could be more mice hiding somewhere in the house.
Damaged items. House mice may nibble on furniture, clothes, wires, and other household items. If they find their way to the places where you store seeds or cereals, mice will definitely eat their fill.
Benefits of House Mice
While mice are, in most cases, a nuisance, they can also be important. Mice feed on pest insects, which can be instrumental in keeping certain populations under control. Mice eat weed seeds and, as a result, help gardeners do their job.
If you think mice are helpful, there are effective and humane methods of house mice control that don’t target the animals themselves. These methods include mouse-proofing your house by denying them access to food and shelter. It may be important to note, though, that mice that have lived their entire lives in a house may not survive outdoors on their own.
Health Hazards Posed by House Mice
House mice may be cute and cuddly, but they are a real health hazard. Their feces and saliva can spread bacteria, contaminate food sources, and give you allergic reactions. Their dry fecal matter can be harmful if breathed in.
Some of the diseases that house mice spread include:
- Rat-bite fever
What to Do If a House Mouse Touches or Bites You
Although they are unlikely to do so, a mouse can bite if threatened. The best thing to do in such a case is to call your doctor and inform them.
It is also important to contact your doctor if there are house mice in your home and you have these symptoms:
- Painfully swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle pain
How to Get Rid of House Mice
To prevent and eliminate rodent infestations in your house, consider these tips:
- Have door sweeps installed on exterior doors.
- Repair all damaged screens.
- Screen openings to chimneys and vents.
- Have all cracks and holes on the outside of the house sealed.
- Check areas where utilities and pipes enter the house and use caulk, steel wool, or a combination of both to seal any spaces.
- Keep food and other edibles in airtight containers.
- Dispose of garbage regularly.
- Keep attics and basements dry and well-ventilated.
- Repair pipes and clogged drains that offer ideal breeding sites for pests.
- Check items such as boxes, grocery bags, and other packages that are brought into the house.
While some people may consider house mice to be cute companions or pets, they can be a health hazard if let out of control. Take the above steps to humanely get rid of these small rodents and secure your home from future infestations.