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House Mouse

   HOUSE MOUSEH

   (Mus domesticus)

 

The House mouse is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents. It usually lives in the closest proximity to humans, so mice are common in all types of urban and rural buildings as well as in home gardens and city parks. In general, the House mouse can not survive away from human settlements. Mice are considered pest because they spread harmful diseases, contaminate human food and damage people’s property.

Appearance: The body of an adult House mouse is 7.5 – 10 cm (3.0 – 3.9 in) long; its tail has a length of 5 – 10 cm (2.0 – 3.9 in). Typically, a mouse weighs 10 – 25 g (0.35 – 0.88 oz). The colour of its fur varies from brown to black, with short hair and a light belly. Sometimes, mice are confused with rats, although the latter are much bigger and have larger heads and feet in relation to the body.

Infestation: House mice have successfully adopted many different methods to invade human dwellings. They can get in through open or draughty doors and windows, gaps and holes in walls or woodwork as well as by using ventilation grids and air-bricks or openings around loose pipes. The animals are able to jump up to 45 cm (18 in) and to climb up vertical rough walls. Under favourable conditions – food surplus, warm temperature, no natural enemies, no control, a single pair of mice may develop a large infestation. The female mouse can give birth to 5-6 babies every 20 days.

Habitat: The House mice can live both in- and outdoors for part or all of the year. However, particularly before the winter the rodents seek shelter in warm locations where they can breed and find food such as residential buildings, restaurants, pubs, shops, hotels, hospitals, day nurseries and schools. Mice prefer dark and dry places – suitable to hide and to construct nests as for instance hollow spaces under flooring or skirting boards, attics, utility rooms, cloakrooms, cellars, cupboards and wardrobes. In general, nice readily infest both domestic and commercial premises. House mice normally feed on plant matter, but living in human dwellings the rodents consume people food such as dairy and floury products or meat. The rodents also eat their droppings to acquire nutrients produced by bacteria in their guts.

Detection: House mice are mostly active at dusk and at night. The rodents avoid light and are very sensitive to any sudden noise, so it is rather difficult to spot a house mouse even if it is out of its hiding place. Nevertheless, it is quite easy to detect the pest itself, since mice leave typical signs of their presence. A single mouse produces between 80 – 120 small – around 6 mm (1/4’’) in length, black droppings a day which are scattered wherever mice usually dwell and move. Another distinct evidence of the present of mice are their tooth marks on furniture, skirting board, plaster work, food packaging and foodstuffs. Mice nibble to keep their teeth in good condition, to get at food or to build their nests, so there are always a lot of small pieces of debris, cuttings, scraps of paper, bits of fabric and gnawed food leftovers in infested rooms. A close inspection of carpets, skirting boards and floors can reveal holes of about 2 cm (0.79 in) in diameter which are usually used by mice as entrances to their nests. Mice regularly move along the same runways, where they leave the smear marks of grease, dirt and natural oils from their furs. Outdoors these runways resemble tiny paths of about 5 – 7 cm (1.87 – 2.76 in) in width, void of any vegetation. Apart from that, urine stains, hairs or musty odour of the rodents clearly indicate a heavy mice infestation. Sometimes, mice’s squeaks and nibble can be well heard at night.

Health hazards and damage to property: Mice transmit dangerous diseases such as leptospirosis, salmonellosis, tapeworm and rabies. Humans usually get infected from the food and drink contaminated by mouse excreta. Apart from spreading diseases house mice damage growing crops and stored food as well as building structures. The rodents spoil much more food than they can eat by contaminating it with their droppings, urine and hairs. Mice gnaw the woodwork and brickwork of buildings, electrical and telephone cables, pipes as well as other fittings and fixtures causing substantial damage to private and public property.

Hygiene and tidiness: Good housekeeping is essential to prevent mice infestation. Buildings should be in good repair and all doors, windows, gaps, holes and other openings used by mice sealed up. It is important to protect for instance with lids, boxes or containers and to regularly control all ready food sources for rodents such us dustbins with household waste, compost heaps, bird feeders or pet food. Accumulation of rubbish, piles of logs, overgrown gardens and dense foliage offer mice shelter and nesting opportunities. That is why building surroundings should be frequently and properly cleaned. Apart from that keeping living and working areas clean, removing food residues as well as keeping food in closed and rodent proof containers are fundamental to curb the pest.

Professional pest control service: If a mice infestation has been already established, only a professional pest control service is able to effectively eradicate the overall population of the rodents in a property. Remedial steps to keep your house and its surroundings clean and tidy can help to reduce the existing infestation, but they are insufficient to completely eliminate it. Rodenticides and traps placed where mice run are to be implemented. Rodenticides are effective if ingested by a mouse, so they are usually combined with the food baits appealing to the rodents such as cereals or grains. A professional pest control service normally uses special bait boxes or stations to ensure that no humans or domestic animal come into contact with the poison.

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