What was that scratching sound? Could there be a mouse overhead? Why are mice attracted to attics? How do you know if you have a mouse in your attic? Mice are stubborn, little pests! Learn how to get them out of your attic and keep them out!
- How Do Mice Get in?
- Why Do Mice Like Attics?
- Signs of Mice in the Attic
- Are Mice Dangerous?
- Get Rid of Those Mice!
- Keep the Mice Out!
- When to Call a Professional
How Do Mice Get in?
Mice can squeeze through a ¼ inch, or 6-7 mm gap or hole! Any opening in your home is fair game. Mice will access your house through downspouts, nearby branches, or power lines. They are great at climbing and can jump up to 8 feet.
Why Do Mice Like Attics?
If you have handy branches leading right to your attic, it is easy for the mice to access your home! They can climb right into any openings they find.
Attics are typically free from human and predator activity. Mice are shy, and enjoy the peace and quiet an attic space has to offer. This is especially true when they have babies.
If you have boxes stored in your attic, this gives them even more space to hide. Mice will avoid wide, open areas, and tuck into corners and crevices.
Insulation provides a perfect, fluffy nesting material for mice and their babies. They also enjoy cardboard boxes and papers that are stored in attics to use as nesting material.
During the cold months, a toasty attic is a haven for mice. Heat rises in an enclosed space, so the attic is one of the warmest spots in your home.
Mice will try to nest near a food source. The attic is perfect. The mice in your attic are in your home, near all the tasty treats they could ever want.
Signs of Mice in the Attic
What’s that scratching overhead? Mice are rodents, and they need to constantly gnaw to wear down their front teeth. You may hear sounds of gnawing or chewing from your attic. If you have multiple mice, you may also hear their footsteps as they scurry around the attic.
You may notice the smell before you even see any droppings, especially if you rarely visit your attic. Mice droppings have a distinct, foul odor.
Mice droppings are often in clumps near the nesting site. They are small, brown, and tube-shaped. They will be a darker color when they are fresh and lighter as they dry out.
Where mice go, they leave urine and feces behind. Look for dark stains on the ceiling. Many times, the stains will be around the edges of the attic, as that is where the mice prefer to nest.
It’s time to investigate your attic. Mice build nests of soft material for their babies. The nests will be near the edges of the attic, or tucked into cracks and crevices. Look for fluffy, chewed-up piles of nesting material.
Are Mice Dangerous?
Mice may look small and harmless, but they can pose a lot of danger to you and your home! They love to chew and gnaw on just about anything. If they chew up wires, you could have a fire. They can destroy insulation and wood beams with their teeth, as well.
Urine and feces from mice can cause staining on your walls, ceiling, and floor. And, it definitely stinks, too!
Even more importantly, mice pose a health hazard. Mice can carry the Hantavirus and pass it to humans through their urine, droppings, or saliva.
Hantavirus can be deadly. Mice can also carry the Bubonic plague, salmonellosis, and Rat-Bite Fever. All of these diseases can be deadly. Once mice feces become dry, particles can become airborne and spread disease if inhaled.
Mice can also carry parasites, such as fleas, ticks, and lice, and spread them to your pets and through your home.
Get Rid of Those Mice!
Once you’ve determined that there are mice in your attic, your next step is to get them out! Always wear an air filtering mask and heavy-duty gloves when dealing with mice.
Rodent poisons are typically fast-acting and effective. It is important to use caution with poison. Never leave the posion where a pet or child can find it. Always read and follow all the instructions on the packaging.
Rodenticides are usually made up of anticoagulants. These stop normal blood-clotting in rodents after they eat the poison. Once blood-clotting stops, the mice will die from internal bleeding. I recommend Neogen Havoc Rodenticide, JT Eaton 750, or Farnam Just One Bite.
Once you have placed poison in your attic, check it frequently! Dead rodents will cause an unpleasant odor in your attic if they are not removed immediately. You will need to be vigilant! The mice will often go hide to die and you may have to search for them.
Check out this article with a complete guide to the best poisons to use on mice.
When faced with mice, most people turn to traps. Traps are inexpensive and fairly simple to operate. One advantage that traps have over poison, is that they kill the mouse instantly, so you will not have to go searching your attic for dead mice.
A basic snap trap is always a good option. Use peanut butter, raisins, cheese, or seeds to bait the trap. When the mouse triggers the plate, the trap will snap on its neck, killing it instantly. Check the traps frequently! Keep set traps out of reach of pets and children.
There are other, more advanced versions of the snap trap available. These traps kill mice instantly with an electric jolt. The Victor M250S is battery operated and allows you to empty it without ever seeing the contents.
There are other similar traps available in corded and battery-operated versions. Unless you have outlets in your attic, I would recommend a battery-operated electric mousetrap. For more information about electric mousetraps, check out this article.
Keep the Mice Out!
Once the mice are out, keep them away with a mouse deterrent. These deterrents have a scent that will repel mice. For more information about mouse repellants, read our guide on the best mouse repellents.
Harris Peppermint Oil, Victor M805 Scent-Away, and MDXconcepts Mice Spray – all use the scent of peppermint to repel mice. You can also use soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and place them around the edges of your attic. Once the oil or sprays evaporate, you will need to reapply them.
Mice are also disgusted by the smell of pepper. Sprinkle pepper, or place hot sauce in dishes around the attic. Replenish as needed.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is another scent that will deter mice. Use gloves when handling undiluted tea tree oil. Place some of the oil on cotton balls, then leave them around the edges of the attic. Replace them as the oil evaporates.
Seal the House
Remember, mice can squeeze into your home through an opening the size of a dime! Check the outside of your home for any cracks, crevices, or openings. Use a weatherproof caulk to seal small openings.
For larger holes, use a wood or mesh framework to patch the hole. Since mice can chew through wood, steel wool is a great material to stuff into mouse holes. Seal the edges with caulk.
Clean Up the Inside
Mice are always on the lookout for a source of food. Make sure your home isn’t a ready-made buffet for the local mice! Keep crumbs swept up, and food sealed away from mice. Take out the trash daily. Wipe down countertops.
Mice also need an easy source of water. Fix leaks and dispose of standing water, so the mice don’t have a ready source of water available.
Clean Up the Outside
Mice can access your attic via tree branches. If you have trees near your home, trim back branches that are within 8 feet of your roof. While you’re at it, clean up any brush or tall weeds in your yard. Mice like to hide in bushes, and may eventually make their way to your house.
If the mice are entering your home through the chimney, install a chimney cap to keep them out! Gutter guards are also helpful. Mice may use gutters as a roadway to your attic.
When to Call a Professional
If the mouse infestation is very large, or you can’t seem to catch them, it may be time to find a local exterminator who has experience with rodent removal. Read this article to learn more about exterminators, and how they deal with a mouse problem.
Your attic is the perfect, cozy refuge for mice! Set traps or poison to get rid of the mice. Keep them away by cleaning up food, clearing your yard, and sealing any openings to your attic.