House Mouse Basics and Biology


April 10, 2014

Here’s a list of facts about the house mouse all pest management professionals (PMPs) should consider when servicing accounts:

Mice can produce their own metabolic water, but drink when given the opportunity. Mice established in pallets containing dry food might never leave the pallet. They can survive and thrive right where they are. You’ll have to tear the pallet down to get the mice moving so they can be eliminated.

Mice can feast on cockroaches, including live ones caught on glue boards. Mice learn to come up near the glue boards and feed on the cockroaches without getting caught. You must control the cockroaches and mice.

Mice are exterior and interior pests, often moving back and forth between the two zones. Exterior rodents can carry rodenticides from exterior bait stations into structures. To eliminate mice, you have to use control measures, and rodent proof, in both zones.

Mice are excellent climbers capable of scaling rough walls. High shelving, inside suspended ceiling and flat roof areas can easily harbor mice. These areas need to be inspected.

Mice enter structures in greater numbers in the fall, but not just because it’s cold. They enter primarily because food supplies become depleted, forcing them to look elsewhere.

Mice can build up large numbers in a short time frame. You can’t go into an account, put down a few glue boards and wait a month to see how it is doing. If so, plenty of new mice will replace the mice you catch.

In the wild, mice are natural seedeaters. Look for seeds when hunting for mice. In supermarkets this means examining around bird food, flower seeds and other seeds packaged in cardboard boxes. The same is true in houses, but don’t forget to check for grass seed stored in the garage. Indoors, mice can vary their diets and favor dried dog food, nuts and candy.

Mice are most active at night but might be seen during the day. If you want to see mice in action, inspect at night. It doesn’t need to be midnight. Once it starts to get dark, the mice start moving. In commercial accounts, I have observed them scurrying about less than 10 minutes after the people leave and all is quiet. If you see mice in the daytime, it generally means there is a considerable population and some are forced to move about in daylight.

Mice have a skeleton but can enter a hole the size of a dime without any trouble. Rodent proofing must be precise and complete. Think like a mouse when plugging holes and weather stripping exterior doors.

Mice can carry parasitic mites and fleas. After you eliminate the rodents, you might have customers who complain about bites. If so, you might have one more control job to complete.

Mice do not read books; they gnaw on them. Mice can be found in many children’s books — sometimes not only through words and illustrations. pmp

You can reach Dr. Frishman, an industry consultant since 1967 and president of AMF Pest Management Services, at

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