Do I have a mouse infestation? Should I keep putting out mouse traps? Should I be worried? These are all normal questions you should be asking yourself after you catch a few mice within a period of a few days.
While the bad news is mice are common house pests, the good news is you can get rid of them and preemptively keep them away, for we know a lot about their behavior, tracks, and patterns.
If you diligently refer to the information in this article, you will not only better understand the pest control process, but you will know exactly how to identify and control your specific mouse problem.
When to stop putting out mouse traps?
No matter how small you think your mouse situation is, you should immediately act like you have an infestation. This is for two reasons. The first is simply that it’s very likely you actually do have an infestation if you have already killed a more than one mice. The second reason is that even if you don’t currently have an infestation, if one or two do remain in your home (usually without you knowing) and you take your foot off the gas and neglect your mouse trapping duties, you will likely face an infestation in the near future: your mouse problem is not controlled until every last one is caught or killed.
So, when should you stop putting out mouse traps? The simplest answer is that you can stop when there are no more mice left in your home. But that is often difficulty to determine. Familiarize yourself with the following signs to better understand:
Signs you still have more mice
If you notice ANY one of these signs, it is LIKELY that you have more mice to deal with:
- Weird noises coming from the walls or ceilings (scratching, scurrying, gnawing, etc)
- New trapped mice within a day or two
- Fresh mouse droppings
- A new mouse spotting in your home
Signs you have gotten rid of all the mice
If you don’t notice any of the previous signs above AND if you notice this one sign, it is LIKELY that you have gotten rid of all of the mice:
- No new trapped mice over the past month
Take note of how “likely” is strongly emphasized above. There is always a possibility that a mouse or two remain hidden or that new mice will enter your home. Therefore, even after you haven’t trapped any new ones over the past month and haven’t seen any of the telltale signs of new mice activity, you should leave a trap or two out in the open just in case.
Mouse traps, particularly snap traps with enticing bait, such as peanut butter or chocolate, are very effective at their job, so you can trust them to gauge the severity of your mouse problem. However, other types of traps, such as glue traps and mouse poison tell you less about the current state of your infestation; glue traps are often very location specific and poison can result in the mice either not eating it or eating it and dying out of your sight in the walls or ceilings.
In the case that you have not had success using a trap, make sure you try using a snap trap. Also be sure you are using proper bait (I always recommend peanut butter) and are placing the trap in the proper location: it is best to place a snap trap perpendicular to a wall with the bait side closest to the wall.
It’s also worth noting that smell may not be the best indicator for deciding the conclusion of your mouse infestation. This is because a mouse-related rotten smell will typically indicate the presence of a dead, decomposing mouse in your walls or ceilings, which does not help you determine whether or not mice are still currently present in your home. Also, a rotten stench in your home could be originating from something entirely not mouse-related.
How many more to go?
If you have caught or killed three mice or thirty, you will always be wondering how many more there are in your home. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to determine this. This is primarily because the mouse nest if almost always hidden out of our sight and reach. Therefore, it is imperative that you always assume that you have more mice UNTIL you haven’t caught any in the past month AND haven’t seen any of the signs indicating that you still have more (see above section).
How many mice are usually in a house?
The answer to this question really, really varies. The range can be anywhere from just one mouse to hundreds—yes, hundreds of mice. However, we can generally say that the more mice you have caught or seen in a short amount of time, the more you likely currently have in your house. But this does NOT mean that if you have only seen or caught one mouse that you don’t have an infestation behind your walls. Furthermore, other indicators, such as lots of mouse droppings throughout your house, often indicate the presence of lots of mice.
Mice are nocturnal, resilient, and scared of the presence of humans. Chances are that if you do have an infestation, you may only ever see one or two of them crawling around out in the open. And if you have only caught a few so far but haven’t caught any more in the last few days, it could be for a number of other reasons, such as a flawed trapping strategy or a filthy, crumb-filled kitchen.
Mice are also exceptionally quick and efficient breeders. In one year alone, a single female mouse can give birth up to ten separate times, and each time she does, she can produce up to eight twelve babies (six babies per litter on average). That means that just ONE mouse can produce up to 120 babies in one year (ten litters of twelve babies)! And that’s just a single mouse. If you have multiple females, the number of new mice in your home can quickly get into the hundreds if you don’t act quickly.
To make matters even worse, baby mice can begin reproducing when they’re between 8-12 weeks old, and they reproduce until they die!
How many mice count as an infestation?
While there is no definitive number that defines an infestation, it is typically quite high. A better way to think about an infestation is the presence of a mouse nest. If you don’t have a nest in your house, it would be pretty inconceivable for you to have an infestation, for there would be no reproducing occurring. If you do have a mouse nest, however, chances are you have an infestation or are about to have one.
Mice only reproduce and live in their designated nest, so it’s entirely possible for you to see a mouse or two pass through the floors of your house, only to see them exit. But, recurring signs of mouse activity almost always indicate the presence of a nest, and thus an infestation.
Do dead mice attract more mice?
The simple answer is no, dead mice do not attract more mice. If anything, the smell of a dead mouse will keep others away.
There is nothing inherently enticing about the smell of a dead mouse to other mice. So if a mouse dies within your walls or ceiling, or gets killed in a trap, you do not have to worry about attractting any more.
On the contrary, if one of your traps, such as a snap trap or an electric trap, captures and kills a mouse and the dead mouse sits there for around a day before you remove it, the build up of the dead mouse smell can actually become very overwhelming for the rest of your mice. So much so that when you rebait the trap and put it back out, other mice may sense the dead smell and actively avoid the trap.
Mice are not smart enough to know what traps are, what traps look like, or what traps can do to them, but their keen sense of smell informs them to not go where other mice have died.
So what can you do to efficiently get rid of mice without letting the smell of the dead keep others away? There are actually a few things that you can do:
- Discard, or throughly clean, each trap after you use it
- Promptly remove each dead mouse from its trap as quickly as possible (this requires constantly checking on your traps)
- Avoid kill traps all together and use humane traps. Humane traps don’t kill, but capture, therefore avoiding any dead mouse smell.
Although snap traps baited with peanut butter are often considered the gold standard of traps, humane traps are a close second. Another reason to use humane traps has to do with mouse urine. Mouse urine is actually an appealing smell to other mice because it indicates to them that other living mice have previously been there. Mice urinate everywhere and anywhere, including when they are caught in a humane trap. So when you release a mouse caught in a humane trap, rebait it, and place it back out, other mice will be attracted to the trap because of the scent of the urine.