If you live in a city or neighborhood where mice are common, then it's only a matter of time before you see one in your home, too. The thing about mice is that they tend to send out scouts before they completely move into a place. Seeing one does not mean that you have a mouse problem -- yet. It does mean that you need to kick into super-vigilant mode to keep other mice from coming in, though. Here are five steps you can take when living in a mouse-prone area to keep the pests from invading your space.
Have an expert come plug holes and openings.
Mice can wiggle through pretty tiny openings. Smaller breeds of mice and young mice can fit through spaces that measure just 1/4 inch across. As you can imagine, it's easy to miss an opening this small when looking over your foundation and walls for places where mice can enter. So, you're best off leaving this task to the experts.
Some exterminators will inspect a home for openings where mice could potentially enter, even if you don't have an active infestation. There are also general contractors and builders who offer this service. The inspection itself should only take a few hours, and plugging up the holes is an easy task that they should be able to complete with some wood putty or concrete patches.
Set a few traps near "tempting" areas.
If you catch the mouse "scouts" as soon as they enter, they won't be able to return to their main nest and advise the other mice that the coast is clear to move in. So, set a mouse trap or two in areas where the mice are most likely to appear. This could include your kitchen pantry, basement, near the dog food storage, or in the attic. Check the traps a couple of times a week so that if you do catch a mouse, you can empty the trap and set a new one.
Keep food cleaned up.
Mice are really good at breaking into sealed containers. They can gnaw through plastic and even thick cardboard boxes. However, they are usually most attracted to food that is left out in the open, since they can smell and find it most easily. Get into the habit of washing your dishes as soon as you're done eating. Store your food in sealed containers rather than in the bags and boxes it comes in. Keep pet food in sealed containers, too. And remember to never to leave food scraps like orange peels and the like out on the counter or table when you're done eating.
Keep your landscaping trimmed.
Mice do not like being out in the open where they are exposed to predators. If you have bushes and brush up against the side of your home, they'll have an easier time hiding in this material and finding a place to enter your home. Keep your landscaping well trimmed, and consider removing any dense bushes or shrubs that grow right along the base of your home.
Call an exterminator at the first sign of an infestation.
If you catch a single mouse, there's no reason to panic, as it may have just been a scout. However, if you see or catch more than one mouse in a short time period -- say, one week -- or if you notice mouse feces in your home, contact an exterminator at a company like Garrie Pest Control immediately. Mice breed very quickly, so eliminating the ten you have this week will be much easier (and more affordable) than eliminating the 100 you may have a few weeks down the road.