Winter time is known for many things—the holidays, snow, hot chocolate, IUPUI alerts advising students to waddle like a penguin on their way to class. A lesser-known characteristic of winter is the mice that sneak their way into peoples’ homes.
“There isn’t a home in this world that doesn’t have mice,” Robin Wilkes, owner of Critter Control Indianapolis, said in a 2012 interview with Angie’s List. “Everyone has at least a few mice coming in and out, or living there.”
The Fairbanks School of Public Health here at IUPUI has experienced this side effect of winter weather firsthand. On January 4th, when the school moved from its former location on Senate Ave. to its new one on Wishard Boulevard, staff was not surprised to have found two mice living in the building.
“It’s very common in the winter time for mice to come indoors especially in Indiana,” Sandra Herman, Director of Communications and Marketing of the Fairbanks School of Public Health, said. “We immediately contacted facility services to take the proper precautions.”
Mice are attracted to man-made structures like houses for nesting, says Critter Control Indianapolis’ website. Homes provide them with some of their favorite foods, such as cereal, grains, nuts, fruits, meat, plant seeds and roots, and trash. Homes with central heating provide warmth for the rodents during the winter months. The mice may nest underground or build nests out of materials found around houses or the outdoors.
IUPUI student and self-proclaimed mouse expert Phil Mikos has also had his own experience with the critters this winter. “So far this winter we have had three mice,” Mikos said via email. To capture the mice, Mikos used traditional mouse traps baited with peanut butter. The peanut butter traps were successful in catching the first two mice but to get the third, Mikos took more extreme measures.
“One night my roommate Zack and I spotted a mouse run behind the fridge then dart under our oven. He and I posted up, Zack was armed with a blowgun and me with a pan,” Mikos said. “It darted out again! Zack shot and missed so it was up to me and my pan. I went into full pursuit as the mouse ran for the stairs down to the basement. I swung, only to miss and smash in a cardboard box. The mouse jumped, airborne, down the stairs to never be seen again. Well… not until I caught him in a trap.”
Critter Control Indianapolis suggests on their website that homeowners may have to implement their own techniques to catch mice, much like Mikos’ peanut butter traps and frying pan. They suggest regularly cleaning your home, sealing off any cracks in the foundation, removing any collections of debris in yards, reducing clutter in attics and/or basements, and keeping food in airtight, rodent proof containers.
It is recommended to take these precautions to prevent mice because the rodents damage not only homes, but the people in them as well. Critter Control Indianapolis explains that most common areas for mice are in sewers, dumpsters, and other grimy areas where they can pick up secondary pests and pathogens.
The rodents bring these pathogens into homes, slide into cupboards to nibble on food, and can spread diseases such as salmonellosis, tapeworms, rat-bite fever, or leptospirosis. While a home is infested, the mice may be housing fleas, ticks, and parasites. Humans contract these diseases when they come in contact with mouse feces or urine, says Critter Control Indianapolis.
Besides disease, there is the structural damage mice bring. They nibble holes into walls and cupboards and will eat any garden-grown food. They chew on electrical wires which can cause power shortages or electrical fires. Mice also have rapidly growing teeth so the mice will begin to gnaw on any hard items such as walls, books, beams, and other items to control the length of their teeth. This can lead to serious damage over time.
If a mouse, mouse droppings, or any gnawed areas or items are found in a home, immediate action should be taken. The techniques mentioned above can be implemented and, if need be, call a service like Critter Control Indianapolis to help quickly and safely remove the mice from the home.