What’s worse than having mice in your home? Having a mice nest.
The mice nest is the hub of all mouse infestations. Without it, mice don’t take up shelter in your home.
A nest can quickly turn just a few mice into dozens in a matter of a month or two. Therefore, it is extremely important to know how to identify a nest in order to prevent or eliminate the infestation from the source. Let’s start with the basics.
What does a house mouse nest look like? Let’s start with how they build them. Mice use a variety of materials to build their nest. It all depends on what’s most readily available. Common materials they use are paper, furniture fabrics, string, fiberglass, cardboard, insulation, small plastics, and plant materials (bamboo, straw, etc.).
Mice will shred these materials into little bits and carry them to where they have chosen to construct their nest. In terms of appearance, house mice tend to build their nests into the shape of a ball or a rough, spherical pile of their shredded materials. Also, nests are generally between four and six inches in diameter. A house mouse nest may also resemble just a loose pile of their shredded materials.
The most important characteristic when it comes to a mouse nest is that they look out of place. If you see a concentrated pile of shredded materials hidden away somewhere in your home, listen to your gut. Do you suspect or know you have mice? If you see something that resembles that’s described above, it’s probably a mouse nest. If it’s not a mouse nest, there’s not many other things it could be. It could some other type of animal nest, such as a rat’s nest, or it could just be a random pile of wall insulation and other collected materials.
You may be wondering, how can a mouse nest look like anything but a mouse nest? Well, seen without context, it really is just a small pile of shredded, household materials. That’s why context is key. It’s crucial to inspect the areas immediately surrounding the nest. Because mice are not clean animals, you will often find lots of droppings food scraps in the areas closest to their nests. The nesting area may also reek of mouse urine, which is a pungent, musky scent.
Lastly, the location of the suspected mouse nest is vital, contextual information.
Where do mice nest in a house?
The number one generalization we can make about where mice make their nests is that they make them in enclosed, dark spaces. Mice avoid humans at all costs and are nocturnal which is why they prioritize privacy and darkness. Common places mice live are inside unused drawers and kitchen cabinets, behind wall voids, above ceiling tiles, and behind unused appliances.
Unsurprisingly, the typical kitchen sports many features attractive to mice, such as easy access to food and water. To find a mouse nest, always make sure you check behind your kitchen appliances, even including the larger ones, such as the refrigerator, freezer, dishwasher and oven. Also check the spaces around gas-powered household appliance that feature a pilot light, such as a hot water heater or a cooktop.
Be aware that the nest mice build in our homes are solely for raising their babies. Therefore, even if the nest is not somewhere in your kitchen, the nest will always be in an area that is close to a food source. After doing a thorough check of your kitchen, check all adjacent rooms and spaces that are relatively close to the kitchen. If your home has more than one kitchen or if you store food in other room of the house, such as the garage, make sure you check these rooms, too.
Similarly, when looking for mice nests in your home, look for mouse droppings and other signs of mice activity, such as scattered shredded materials and the unusual, musky odor of mouse urine. Mice are very shy, so they tend to confine their all of their activities to a small radius from the nest. In fact, mice rarely venture out more than 25 feet away from their nests. Therefore, signs of high mice activity concentrated in a specific area in your home are more often than not indicative of mice nesting in that specific location.
How many mice are usually in a nest?
The number of mice in a nest all depends on how far along the lifecycle of the nest is. A newly formed nest will always have less mice than a mature, year-old nest. The ages of the mice in the nest and the amount of other mice in the vicinity of the nest are also factors in a nest’s population size. However, if we are to generalize, we can say that on average, a single mouse nest can have between one and two dozen mice.
Mice are prolific breeders. They breed often, they breed rapidly, and newborns become sexually active very quickly: female mice become sexually active six weeks after they’re born. They also won’t stop breeding until they die or are killed.
Females give birth to litters of five to twelve babies (six to eight on average) and have extremely short gestation periods (19-21 days). So, one single female can birth up to ten litters per year, with each litter containing up to eight babies. That’s an average of sixty to eighty newborn mice from just ONE female in ONE year!
However, note that one mouse nest never contains anywhere close to sixty or eight mice. Rather, if you have this many mice in your home, there will be multiple mouse nests. Again, as a general rule of thumb, you can expect each mouse nest to house one to two dozen mice.
Needless to say, a nest can very, very quickly lead to a massive mouse problem in your home if not dealt with properly. Therefore, it’s vital to implement at least one kind of pest control method and to attempt to get rid of the nest(s) in your home before mice take over your entire home.
How do you get rid of a nest of mice?
How to get rid of a mouse nest. There are quite a few steps that must be followed, but fortunately, if followed correctly and diligently, the process is straightforward and effective.
Assess the situation
You should always first assess your situation. Take note of how many mice you have seen/have been seeing. How far along is your infestation? Do you know where the nests are in your home? Do you know how many you have? Theses are all things you must first consider.
Clean & Properly store food
After assessing your situation, you must clean and remove all food sources. You will never be able to get rid of mice or their nests in your home if your home remains an appealing place for them to live. Clean up all food scraps and crumbs around your home, especially in your kitchen, and store all food in glass, airtight containers (don’t forget pet food).
Pest control methods
Now you must begin to actively eliminate or remove the current mice in your home. It’s not enough to just remove their nests. There are several methods to choose from.
Mouse traps are by far the most common type of rodent control method. The most common traps are snap traps and electrical traps. For those who prefer to capture the mice and not kill them, there are humane traps available that are also effective.
Rodenticides, or poisons, are also very effective and easy to use. They can be bought online or are your local hardware store. Be aware that this method is not recommended for parents of newborns or pet owners! These poisons can harm, or in rare cases, kill anyone who ingests them by accident.
There are also natural remedies available. Some people have had success deterring mice by using peppermint oil and cayenne pepper.
Now, after exploring and implementing the methods above, it’s time to remove the nests. First, always put on protective gear to protect yourself from any diseases that mice carry. Wear latex gloves, eye protection, and a face mask. Then, proceed to pick up the nest and place the materials into a ziplock bag. Place the ziplock bag into another one to ensure that it’s tightly sealed. Then place the double bag into the garbage. Lastly, with a small, mini vacuum, pick up all remaining bits and pieces and mouse droppings in the area. Complete this process for all of the nests in your home.
After removing all of the nests, it’s advised to clean up the areas where the nests were located. A mini vacuum and common household cleaner with paper towels will work in most cases. After cleaning up, you should then discard your gloves and mask and carefully remove your eye protection.
The process may seem long and overly thorough (and in some cases it is), but sometimes that’s what it takes to keep your house safe and rodent-free. As always, if you are feeling overwhelmed or are unsure of your specific situation, contact you local pest control expert/exterminator.