picture of a common house mouse eating a nut

How to "Winterize" Your Home From Mice & Other Winter Pests

7 Minutes

Although we were spared a colder start to the winter of 2021-2022, there’s definitely a nip to the New Year’s air. As those temperatures dip, you might not be the only ones nestling up in your house to get warm. No, we are not talking about your dog becoming a third appendage under your covers or how your cat thinks your head makes a perfectly comfy pillow to sleep on – we’re talking about mice!  

Mice can infiltrate homes and become a serious nuisance during the winter months – contaminating food, causing damage, and spreading disease. However, in order to get rid of them, you must first learn what they do and what they like. Know thy furry enemy! 

Trapping and removing mice is probably the greatest do-it-yourself option for dealing with a mouse infestation. Poisoning mice can endanger children and pets, if not properly used. On the other end of the spectrum, failure to get rid of mice in the home can result in significant numbers within the house and, in most cases, the necessity for expert eradication. To put it another way, it’s more compassionate to capture and kill or move mice as soon as possible to reduce the number of mice that must be dealt with.

How Do You Even Know If You Have Mice In Your Home?

Although witnessing live or dead mice in your home is the most obvious (and nastiest) evidence of a mouse infestation, there are several additional indicators that a mouse infestation is developing. Here are some examples:

  • Gnawed holes in stored goods, stacks of papers, insulation, and so on.
  • Food leftovers or wrappers left behind, often in inconvenient areas such inside shoes or boots, or in the corners of closets and cabinets.
  • Droppings or a few stray hairs
  • Seeing mice runways—narrow routes where dust and grime have been wiped clean, visible grease tracks, or urine trails can be seen under a black light.
  • Stacks of nesting materials or nests themselves.
  • Sounds of skittering or scratching originating from the cavities of the walls, ceilings, or floors.
  • odors that are stale, foul, or musty

Rodent Season – Yes, That’s A Thing! 

Have you ever heard of a fifth season in Pennsylvania? It’s called Rodent Season! Yes, in the pest world this is actually a legit term. Whether or not you’ve heard this term before, we can all agree that nothing makes us cringe more than the possibility of dealing with a rodent infestation. 

Rodent season is the time of year when mice and rats begin their quest for a winter home. The season marks the start of colder temperatures as well as the conclusion of the mating season. During the summer, mice and rats seem to reproduce nonstop. This may not appear to be a significant issue until you consider that a mouse may have up to 60 offspring every year, whereas rats can have up to 24. Mice also achieve sexual maturity within three weeks, which in turn, those infants can add 60 babies to the environment, compounding the problem. 

Rodent season is difficult to pinpoint since seasonal changes occur at various times year to year. Think about it – we already had a blizzard this time last year and haven’t even seen a significant snow storm yet. At least at the writing of this article! 

Rodent season, in general, begins when the weather begins to cool. In Pennsylvania, this might happen anytime between late September and October. As the weather cools, hordes of vermin will begin looking for warmer places to hibernate for the winter.

Why are Mice invading your home during fall and winter?

Mice are lured to sources of heat and possible food as the temperature drops. They will undoubtedly attempt a variety of methods to gain access to your home, including cracks in the walls, open windows or doors, vents, and pipes.  

Although not all mice and rats carry illnesses, a large number of them do, which can potentially put your family at risk. Maintaining a clean and healthy house is essential but making sure that your house is prepped to be vermin resistant is vitally important in prevention before it becomes a problem. 

Having a keen eye and knowing where to look might be more difficult to someone who doesn’t deal with this type of problem too often. It might be beneficial to contact a local pest expert for a consultation to get a professional assessment. 

Can I Get Rid Of Mice By Turning Off The Heat?

The cold-hard truth (see what we did there) – IS NO! Mice are looking for two things: food and a place to live. It makes no difference how chilly you make your home if they can find these things. They have fur that keeps them warm, and they will tear apart everything they can find to construct a comfortable nest. Unfortunately, turning down the heat will not get rid of mice. 

In fact, turning off the heat may escalate the problem by causing the mice to migrate deeper into the house in search of warmth. They will appear more frequently and may even get more daring by taking more food and pooping in areas they have never pooped before. Beam them up, Scotty!

They will gnaw through walls, create holes for easy passage, and wreak havoc on your electrical system. It could be a good idea to leave the heat on…

Tips for Keeping Mice Out of Your House During the Winter

Scope Out Any Easy-Access Entry Points

The easiest strategy to get rid of mice is to prevent them from entering your home in the first place. Regularly examine the perimeter of your home by walking around it a few times and looking for gaps, fissures, and cracks in the lower foundation and mid-structure along with doors and windows.

Keep in mind that these smart critters can slip through spaces as small as a cent, so keep an eye out and don’t forget to put on your glasses.

Seal Off Any Holes, Cracks, and Openings

If you notice any potential access spots, act quickly to prevent mice from entering your home. A caulk gun and exterior-grade caulk are required. Squirt the caulk directly into the gaps, following the guidelines on the tube. This will seal any minor gaps that a mouse might interpret as an indication of “vacancy.”

Don’t let your house turn into an all-you-can-eat buffet for mice.

Mice love stray crumbs on the kitchen floor like Santa loves a plate of cookies. Don’t provide them any incentives to remain because the only “gifts” they leave behind are their own excrement. This entails following a strict cleaning routine and ensuring that all of your food is out of reach of their claws.

Here’s a daily cleaning checklist to help keep mice away this winter:

  • Ensure that your counters are clean by wiping them down.
  • Food spills should be cleaned up immediately.
  • Vacuum the floors or mop them.
  • All food should be kept in sealed containers at all times.

If you don’t already own a portable cordless vacuum, this is an excellent purchase for quick and easy cleanup, particularly around the oven and your pet or toddler’s eating area. You know, you should try to work smarter rather than harder.

Remove Any Hiding Places From Your Home.

“If I fits, I sits,” as the saying goes, also applies to mice. These critters enjoy having tiny stuff-piles and hidey-holes in which to scurry around safely while the homeowners are none-the-wiser.

Remove any debris from your house and floors, including your “not clean, but not unclean” clothes, those coupon fliers you haven’t clipped yet, and your child’s stuffed animal parade—anything that may create a home for the mice.

You want big, open regions that make a mouse feel as though they’re out in the open (and an easy meal for the cat).

What if You Already Have Rodents in Your House?

If you’ve had trouble keeping mice out of your house in the fall and winter or suspect that you might have a rodent problem and don’t know where to start treatment, you should probably hire a local pest control expert like Procor Pest Control. 

It’s worth the peace of mind you’ll have and the time you’ll save in the long run. Setting a couple of traps might help temporarily but will not treat the root of the problem. Contact us today to set up a consultation…and keep warm, will ya!