If you’ve woken up in the middle of the night to sounds of squeaks and squeals, or the sounds of tiny feet scurrying off, there is strong reason to suspect that there might be a mouse (or mice, god forbid) living in your apartment. Mice are nocturnal animals and can be hard to spot because they hardly leave behind any physical evidence (except droppings).
Living in small apartments can make your living space even more prone to a mouse infestation because even if you take care of hygiene and cleanliness in your apartment if your neighbor is a little careless, the mice can easily migrate to your place as well.
Thankfully, spotting a mouse infestation is harder than getting rid of it. If you know you have a mouse problem in your apartment building, talk to your building manager, and then get to work to get these pests out of your place. Most people think of pesticides as the most apparent solution, but those could be dangerous to the people and pets in your apartment too. There are other, safer solutions that can help you get rid of mice in your apartment, but even more important is to take preventative measures so more mice can’t make their way inside in the future.
What Attracts Mice To Your Place?
Before understanding why these rodents have invaded your living space, it’s important to understand who your invaders are.
The house mouse, scientifically known as mus musculus, is a small animal of the order Rodentia. They usually have light brown to dark gray fur, with cream-colored bellies and feet. They are small, unlike their other cousins, and only grow up to about 3 – 4 inches long, making it very easy for them to hide and crawl through small spaces and gaps.
House mice feature a pointed snout and small, shiny eyes. They are great climbers, jumpers, and even swimmers! Their small size enables them to easily travel to and from one apartment to the other, so if you haven’t properly sealed off any entry points to your apartment, if one apartment is infested, it can very well carry into yours too.
But what entices these mice to make their nests in your apartments? Well, as with most pests, they’re attracted to food and shelter. Insects and rodents are always on the hunt for food sources and like to settle near to where they find their food. Though their size might not indicate so, house mice have huge appetites. They feed about 18 to 20 times a day! Their natural food is anything from seeds and nuts to small insects, but inside building structures and apartments, they will happily eat anything that humans consume.
From the fruit remains in your garbage to the expired cereal box, a house mouse will devour everything. If it is not readily available, they will also chew through plastic wrappers and cardboard boxes to get to the food. Mice have strong teeth, and they are great chewers. The chew marks in packaging are often a very big tell-tale sign that there are mice in your apartment.
Mice often start invading homes and apartments in the US during winters. They are warm-bodied mammals, and during the cold weather, are in search of places to take shelter in. If access is easy, your warm apartment provides a very appealing home to these creatures, with tepid conditions and lots of food nearby!
Is Your Landlord responsible for the Mouse Infestation in Your Apartment?
Hold on; before you put the entire blame of the mouse infestation on your landlord, take a look around your own apartment first. Though some tenant-landlord laws do hold the landlord responsible to an extent for controlling and curbing any pest infestations, if the infestation is the result of your neglect when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene, then you are liable and held responsible for getting rid of the mice.
If you’re guilty of letting the trash sit for days and do not store your food properly, you will have to pay for the extermination costs to get rid of the infestation, not your landlord. If tenants refuse to deal with the problem that they have caused, the landlord holds the right to terminate their contract.
Read your contract thoroughly; some lease contracts place the full burden on the tenants for dealing with mice, insects, and other vermin infestations, in which you cannot hold the landlord responsible in any way.
How to Get Rid of Mice in an Apartment
When an infestation is discovered, action should be taken as soon as possible to ensure that it doesn’t spread further. Often, people turn to pesticides to get rid of serious mice infestations, but the use of pesticides indoors can potentially harm more than just the intended targets. If the poisoned scrapes are inhaled or ingested by your pets, it will quickly turn fatal for your pet. Long-term exposure to pesticides inside limited apartment spaces can also cause cancer in humans. There are alternative ways of getting rid of mice from your apartments. Let’s look at some of them.
Baiting is a popular method of killing mice in houses and apartments. The mice are lured into a bait station that holds rat poison, which instantly kills off the mouse when ingested. While the method works well to kill the rats, you still have to deal with the dead bodies, which is yet another disgusting task on its own.
Trapping is another option that appeals to more people. The mouse is lured into a trap where you lay out a scrape of food. Once the mouse enters the trap, it is stuck inside with no way of getting out. There are many types of traps available in the market, such as snap traps, sticky traps, and humane traps.
Snap traps snap shut when the mouse retrieves the food, while sticky traps are lined with a strong adhesive that prevents the mice from running away. Humane traps are a more conscientious way for people who want to get rid of the infestation but are not comfortable with the thought of killing the mice. The humane traps will safely entrap the mice. These mice can then be taken out and released into the wild.
If you don’t want to deal with the problem on your own, or if the mouse infestation has become too serious for you to handle, you can always call pest control specialists who can take care of the problem for you. You might have to move out of your place for a couple of days, but you’ll return to find a mouse-free house.
Preventative Measures to Stop a Future Infestation
If you don’t take preventative measures to keep the mice out, they will be back in a couple of months, and you will have to go through the entire ordeal again.
Keep Things Clean
Cleanliness is of utmost importance. Keep your trash cans lidded, so the mice don’t have easy access to leftover or discarded foods. Take the trash out regularly; don’t let it overflow or sit for days.
Seal Any Cracks
Their small, lithe bodies allow them to squeeze through the smallest cracks and gaps in your doors and windows. Ensure that you have left no such entry points unsealed. Seal off the gaps beneath doors, or around windows, so even if your neighbors have a mice problem, it cannot move to your apartment.
Store Food Properly
Store food in hard, air-tight containers instead of leaving them in packaging that mice can chew through and get to. Replace cardboard boxes and plastic bags with hard lidded food containers.
Scents that Mice Hate
There are certain scents that mice are not fond of, such as peppermint oil, cloves, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Take some cotton balls dabbed with the oil or infused with these spices and leave them around your kitchen, bathrooms, or any trouble areas that have been home to mice in the past.
Leave the Lights on at Night
Mice are nocturnal creatures. Leaving the lights on at night in certain rooms of the apartment, like the kitchen, can help fool the mouse into believing that it is daytime and will discourage it from coming out.
Employ these handy tricks and preventative measures in your apartment to make sure you don’t have to deal with a mouse infestation again.
How are pesticides used to kill mice dangerous to people and pets in the house?
Pesticides are often used indoors to kill insects and pests and are inherently toxic. Using them indoors is never advisable as they negatively affect the air quality inside, and accidental ingestion by pets can be fatal. Exposure to these insecticides has even been shown to cause cancer in humans.
Do house mice carry health hazards?
House mice are not dangerous, as such, but they do bite humans. They can also transmit diseases such as hantavirus, salmonellosis, and listeria through their urine, droppings, saliva, and nesting materials.
How quickly can a mouse cause an infestation?
Mice multiply pretty fast. A female mouse can have babies when it is only two months old and can give birth to about a dozen mice every three weeks!