Do mice dig holes

What Does a Mouse Hole Look Like?

When you think of a mouse hole, a cartoonish image is likely the first thing that comes to mind. In “Tom & Jerry” cartoons, Jerry the Mouse comes and goes as he pleases through a nicely cut, rounded entrance along the baseboard of a home that Tom the Cat patrols. Except for stealing wedges of cheese, Jerry’s a wonderful house guest.

Reality isn’t so pleasant, though. Real-life mouse holes are destructive, messy and a sign of an intense infestation of pests that carry disease and destroy your property.

What a Mouse Hole Really Looks Like

Mouse holes aren’t as easy to find as you would think. They definitely aren’t like the openings in the cartoons. Instead, mouse holes inside and outside a building will appear as:

  • A damaged section of wall or paneling
  • A gap between two pieces of building material
  • A space created by crumbling mortar
  • A hollowed crack in a foundation

Further, these mouse holes are rarely a doorway that leads directly to their nests. Instead, these holes are simply an access point to wander into and through your house. Their nests are often hidden in quiet, closed-off areas that homeowners don’t regularly access.

Signs of a Mouse Invasion

If you’re concerned that mice may be in your home, look for mouse holes inside and outside the home. These access points don’t even have to be at mouse level since mice are excellent climbers.

Aside from the hole itself, pay attention to the signs around the hole and its immediate area. If you spot any of these, you have a mouse problem:

  • Mouse droppings look a lot like dark-colored seeds. Fresh droppings are a bit shiny.
  • Mice regularly shed, so they often leave behind bits of hair as they brush up against a wall or squeeze through gaps. The hair will be very short and gray, black or tan in color.
  • As mice squeeze between objects, including their mouse hole, their fur deposits a light layer of oil. If a mouse has used it a few times, it will be very faint. More frequent uses will create a distinct discoloration.
  • Tracks and paths. Mice will use the same routes in and around your house again and again. Doing so will often leave tracks or a similar grease-smeared path, usually along a wall. Actual tracks, which may be evident through dust, show three forefingers, two side-splaying fingers, and frequent tail drag marks.
  • Strong smells. If parts of your home have urine smells (and pets aren’t to blame), then you may have an infestation. In areas where mice travel, the smell will be especially pungent.
  • Look for any variety of debris that you wouldn’t necessarily expect in the area, including wood chips and rubbish.

Inadvertent Mouse Holes

Mice and other pests may also be finding their way into and around your house through openings that already exist in your home. These “inadvertent” mouse holes create highways for pests traveling through your home and include entry and access spaces for electrical wiring, plumbing, HVAC systems, conduits, vents and phone and cable lines.

The best example inside your home can be found underneath your kitchen or bathroom sink. There you’ll likely find openings for the drain pipe and the hot and cold water lines. Since most plumbing is installed before the cabinet, there’s often a small space opened in the wood to allow the plumbing to snake through. The hole is usually bigger than the plumbing, and that space allows mice and other pests to use your pipes to travel elsewhere in the house.

Check these access areas regularly for signs of pests discussed above.

Mouse Holes in Nature

If you think that mouse holes in buildings are difficult to find, you’ll be absolutely stumped by mice that live outdoors. In the wild, mice make their homes in just about any place they can fit – under rocks, in tree cavities and in burrows abandoned by other animals.

Those burrows are often expertly camouflaged to keep predators out and feature multiple rooms to allow them to store food and nest comfortably. Even an exposed mouse hole is tough to properly identify because it’s simply a hole that could have been made by dislodging a rock or jamming a stick in the dirt.

Outdoor mice, of course, really appreciate humans because people provide so many shelter opportunities including under decks, in wood piles, in foundation crevices and inside anything that’s left undisturbed in your yard.

Should You Block Mouse Holes?

The short answer is “No.” Blocking off a mouse’s entrance and exit point inside a house can lead to more damage to your home as they try to chew their way to freedom. Sealing them off completely limits your ability to trap them. Likewise, trapping a mouse inside the infrastructure of your home can mean you’ll soon have a dead mouse (or mice) inside the wall space of your home. Despite their small size, their decomposing bodies can create a terrible smell, generate harmful bacteria and attract even more pests.

Instead, you’ll want to trap the mouse living in your home and remove it before it can cause any more problems. Only after you’re sure your mouse problem has been eradicated do you want to reseal any interior access points with caulk and steel wool.

That being said, exterior mouse holes should be sealed with steel wool and caulk immediately upon discovering them. There’s no sense in letting more mice into your home while you’re busy trapping their cousins!

Have You Got Mice?

Do you have any mouse holes in your house? Take a picture and share them with us the next time you visit Victor® on Facebook. If you have any questions about how to trap mice on your property, call our customer service center at 1-855-5-VICTOR or contact us online.

You can also learn more about the pests you’re fighting by subscribing to the Victor® eNewsletter. By subscribing, you’ll also receive exclusive updates on our products.

Field Mouse, Vole Removal & Control

How to Get Rid of Voles – The first question you should ask yourself is: Do I have a vole problem or a mole problem? Though commonly interchanged, these two animals are very different. Voles and moles are tunnel dwellers, and the difference is in the food they eat and the subsequent damage that comes from their diets. Voles primarily eat roots and bulbs. Their tunnels and burrows will span through an entire yard, but are virtually unseen by the innocent homeowner. Mole tunnels are characterized by large, ugly mounds of freshly dug earth on top of the grass. Unlike voles, moles primarily eat insects and earthworms, and their tunnels are created close to the surface to find the grubs and bugs they so like to eat. If you have suddenly noticed your plants and shrubs dying off with no evidence of an intruder, chances are you have a vole problem. Large mounds of dirt and obvious tracks through the yard will mean you are best served seeking mole control.
Now that you’re certain you have a vole issue, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of them when they leave no obvious sign of their passing. This can be difficult. Voles are subterranean dwellers, and you are not likely to catch them above ground. Cats and other predators will be of little help to you in this situation. Vole poison is available and is an effective means of controlling a vole population. The catch to this method is that this particular poison is regulated by the federal government, and a special permit is required for purchase. The average homeowner will not be able to buy vole poison over the counter in a farm store. Because of the extensive damage and potentially overwhelming number of voles in a single yard, poison is the most effective means of control and will require the use of a professional.
If you’re determined enough, you can try to catch voles on your own, though this task may be very labor intensive and time consuming with little results. The first step in trapping a vole is to find an area where the vole is active. Because they tunnel underground, you will need to locate an area suspicious of activity. Dead plants, stripped trees, and dead tracks in your yard are all good places to start. Before you get right to trapping, test to site for activity. Remove the sod over the tunnel in a small area, no larger than a hand’s width. Take a piece of apple and place it in the hole. Cover the hole with a pot or other protective cover. If you check back in a day and something has eaten the apple, you know you have a good spot to place your trap. Another suggested way to determine tunnel activity is by the physical appearance of the tunnel walls. A smooth, deep tunnel suggests frequent passage. Long, straight tunnels are also thought to be active, leading from one food plot to another.
There are a variety of lethal traps on the market, most of them body gripping traps. These same traps can be used in the elimination of problem moles. Take the trap and place it in the tunnel. The trap will be small and designed for this purpose. Be sure to anchor it in place. Cover over the hole with sod and mark the area to be checked daily. Do not be discouraged if you don’t catch a vole on the first day. These animals have a massive underground burrow network, and it may not be practical for every tunnel to be travelled every day.
Trapping voles on your own can be reasonable if your yard is small and the damage is minimal. If, however, you have a large property and are seeing obvious death of plants and trees, professional intervention is advised. In this one instance of nuisance control, poison is the most effective means of removal.
Voles are small rodents that are very small and rotund and a more commonly called field mice even though they are not mice. Voles resemble mice, but they are much smaller, with shorter tails and smaller eyes and ears. Voles are also commonly mistaken for other small rodents such as rats, shrews and even gophers. However, voles are different in appearance and behaviors and are usually a brownish color with white and/or gray bellies and pink/gray hairy tails.
Voles are common in North America, but are found in other parts of the world also. Voles will take up residence in many different places such as abandoned mole tunnels (leading people to misidentify them), abandoned fox or rabbit burrows or in homes. Really, the vole can be found anywhere that is close to an available food source that is dry and cozy. Voles will not usually enter into homes or basements because they are unable to climb very well. This is very bad news for the unfortunate home owner that has an infestation of voles because they are very destructive and reproduce quickly.
Voles come into their sexual maturity in as little time as a month and their gestation period only lasts for 3 weeks. This makes a vole likely to have anywhere between 6-10 liters of young per year and if you can do the math that means you could have a big vole problem very quickly. Voles are monogamous and mate for life making the male and the female equally responsible in raising the young. The life span of the Vole is very short with many not living past the first year of life. This short life expectancy is probably due to the high number of predators that this small rodent has, some of them including: foxes, owls, hawks, crows, weasels, cats, dogs, snakes and raccoons.
Voles have a varied diet and are considered omnivores. However, their favorite things to eat happen to be your plants. You can bet you have a vole infestation when all of your outdoor plants die suddenly. Voles have excellent tunneling/burrowing abilities and will dig under the plant and eat all of the roots until the plant is dead. They will eat the roots of almost any plant whether it is flowers, trees or shrubs. Voles will also scavenge on the dead carcasses of other small animals like mice, rats and small birds. They will also eat fruits, nuts and grains if they are available.
Their diet is also dependent on the time of year. Voles do not hibernate and are active at all times of the day and night which allows them to maximize their consumption of food. In the winter time, they will make their homes exclusively out of the shallow burrows that they dig right under the surface of your yard.
These small critters are very social animals. Not only do the male and female stay in the same burrow or den to raise their young, but several adults will live in the same burrow or den. Voles operate off of the premise that it takes a village to raise a litter of young voles. This is unusual behavior in terms of rodent interactions, but this system seems to work well for the vole population seeing that they are a very successful species even though they have an incredibly short life span.
Voles are considered destructive pests by any landowner or gardener because they destroy the roots of all plants they encounter which are very hard to restore to their previous condition. Even though there are many different ways that you can get rid of your invasive vole population, it is very hard to exterminate them completely without the help of a professional.

Defending Your Domain: How to Help Get Rid of Mice in Your Backyard

Mice and other rodents are some of the most common pests found in and around homes and they can quickly reproduce – potentially multiplying your pest problems. There are several types of mice that may be present on your property. If you’ve spotted mice or evidence of mice outside on your property, it’s wise to figure out how to get rid of mice populations in the backyard before they potentially invade any indoor spaces. Mice are likely to enter homes more frequently during the fall and winter months when provisions become scarce in outdoor environments. Once a mouse establishes a territory indoors, it can cause quite a mess getting into your food and their urine or droppings can result in unsanitary conditions. So, before they make their way inside, learn how to get rid of and exclude mice from your yard.

How to Get Rid of Mice in Your Yard

Mice are small and have high reproductive potential. For example, a house mouse can have 5-10 litters of 3-12 offspring per year. There are methods you can employ that can make your outdoor space less enticing to mice and other rodents. To lessen the likelihood of mice inhabiting your yard, check out these top six tips:

  1. Clean up your yard. Wood piles, tall grass and piles of fallen leaves all make great hiding places for mice. Try to keep up on yard work by regularly cutting your grass and pulling any long weeds. Plus, remove any piles of wood and foliage that provide potential hiding spots. If you compost, try moving the materials as far away from your home as possible and keep in a sealed container.
  2. Remove exposed food. Bird food, pet food and trash are all potential food sources for rodents. Be sure to seal your trashcans with a lid that locks. Keep any uneaten pet food or bird seed in a sealed container inside your garage or home to prevent access to mice.
  3. Set baited traps. You can use baited snap traps around the areas that you see mice frequenting. Mice will typically run close to walls and are unlikely to travel more than 5 to 10 feet into an open space to retrieve bait. Be strategic when setting traps by placing them along the perimeter of your property and away from spaces where your pets and/or children can accidentally set them off.
  4. Cover burrow openings. Mice and other rodents may create burrows in the ground for nesting, resting or hiding. Cover any holes you find in your yard with rocks or dirt as these may be entry/exit holes for rodent burrows. If you notice an opening has been dug up again, you may still have a mouse problem.
  5. Inspect your home. Once your yard is clean, all potential food sources have been sealed, and you have set traps, the next step is to prevent mice from entering your home. Examine the exterior of your home for any holes or cracks where mice can enter, and seal any openings with wire mesh or caulk.
  6. Proper pest control. The best deterrent for pests of any kind is ongoing pest control. By keeping a close eye on what’s happening outside your home, as you may be able to prevent issues inside, as well.

Mice can squeeze into spaces as small as a dime, so catching and sealing all possible entry ways to your home may be difficult. If you need help excluding mice from your home, consider consulting Terminix® technicians for help. Our professionals can examine your home and find the best methods for exclusion and removal of unwanted pests. Contact Terminix® today to schedule a free inspection.


A single mouse in your home can wreak havoc, but when they’re outside, most people don’t even notice. In some front and back yards though, mice start to dig holes and wreck your yard, leaving ugly marks and dangerous ground for children and pets.

While getting rid of holes in your yard caused by mice might be foreign to you, there are a lot of options for keeping the mice at bay. Use this guide to learn more about why mice dig holes and how you can keep them from doing it on your property.

Do Mice Dig Holes?

Most people have only seen mice above ground, scurrying from place to place. While mice tend to travel along the edges of walls and fenced-in areas, the fact is that they do sometimes burrow. Field mice do this regularly for shelter, which could be the reason you’re finding holes in your yard.

Left unchecked, the problem can get out of hand quickly, leaving you with dozens of holes. Many holes will also connect to one another, forming a complex tunnel system that looks terrible in your backyard and isn’t safe for pets or children.

The good news is that you do have options when it comes to how to catch a mouse in your yard or prevent them from digging in the first place.

What to Do When They Dig Holes in the Ground

Mice dig holes in your yard because they’re looking for shelter or food sources. The most common type of mice that do this are field mice, though other varieties, as well as rats, can dig holes. There are a few important things to do when you notice that mice are digging holes in your yard.

Mouse holes can be dangerous for playing children.

  1. Watch the holes to try and determine the type of animal that is digging the holes. Sometimes treating your yard for field mice is different than standard mice or rates.
  2. Fill the holes in your yard. This often only works as a short-term solution. If you catch the problem when you have only one or two holes, the mice may move on to another property.
  3. Place a barrier around your garden area if this is what is attracting mice in the first place. Ultrasonic products and sheet metal barriers that make it hard for mice to access your garden area are often effective. A natural mouse repellent like lemon essential oil can work too, further details can be found here.
  4. Check your yard for mice regularly. You may find that your first attempts at getting mice out of your yard are not successful. There are other options for getting rid of them once and for all.

I Have Mice Holes in My Yard: What Should I Do?

Having mice in your yard for a long period of time can be a major problem. The cost of re-sodding your lawn can also be high, especially if you have a large front or back yard. That’s why it’s important to take care of mice as quickly as possible when you notice that they’re digging holes in your space. There are a handful of solutions for getting rid of mice in your backyard effectively.

Snap Traps

Snap traps are the standard type of mouse traps that you see at the drug store and hardware store on a regular basis. In many cases, they are the best mouse trap option for mice that are slowly destroying your yard. Designed to quickly kill mice by luring them to a trap with bait that is nearly irresistible, these can be used inside and out.

Follow these tips when using snap traps:

  • Buy enough snap traps to have a few in your yard in areas where you’ve seen mice. Placing them around the holes in your yard is also an ideal solution. Use snap traps along fences and access points to your yard as well.
  • Bait snap traps with something that mice like. You might see people using cheese on TV and in the movies, but sticky items like peanut butter are better. They’re high in protein and are much more difficult for a mouse to access without actually standing on the trap that will catch them.
  • Practice using the snap traps. You don’t want an improperly set trap keeping you from catching a mouse. Just be careful that you don’t get your fingers stuck in a trap. It won’t leave a long-term injury, but it will hurt for a few days!
  • Check your traps regularly. To make the most of your traps, you’re going to need to ensure that they’re properly baited and ready to spring into action at all times. Ideally, you should check your traps once to twice per day when possible.

Natural Repellent Sprays

Many people want to know how to scare mice away from their property without killing them. Natural repellent products are an ideal solution if you’ve got something in your yard that mice are attracted to like a garden area. They work in most cases because they are formulated with something like fox urine, which makes mice think there is a natural predator nearby.

Always make sure the spray repellent that you choose is safe for children and pets if they spend time in your backyard. Many products are all-natural and not harmful while still working to drive mice, rats and other pests away from your yard.

Use these tips to scare mice away from your yard with natural spray repellents:

  1. Locate the areas where you’ve seen mice or where they’re getting into your yard. You’ll need to treat these areas first even if they’re not where the actual holes are.
  2. Fill the holes in your yard that the mice are creating. Spray the area with the natural repellent that you’re planning to use.
  3. Use natural spray repellents near your garden area. You may need to use several coats until the smell is noticeable.
  4. Reapply your natural repellent spray regularly. You’ll also need to go back to the same spots and apply the spray again after it rains or you’ve watered your grass and flowers.

Poison Pellets

Traps and sprays are often effective, but if you have very stubborn mice on your property, they may not be enough. Poison pellets can kill mice in your yard and they’ll die quickly once eaten. The problem is that these pellets can be harmful to other animals and your pets.

If you do use poison pellets, make sure you monitor the area where you put them regularly. You don’t want your pets, or even other animals like birds, to get into them.

Please see detailed descriptions here.

Keep a Clean Yard

Mice can get into any yard and cause a problem even if it’s in tip-top shape. However, yards that need a little work are often more susceptible to these pests.

Follow these tips for keeping your yard clean so you’re less likely to have mice digging holes:

  • Don’t leave lawn and yard equipment out. These pieces of equipment can shield mice from view, making them feel like they can dig holes without being spotted. Make sure you keep a clean yard at all times.
  • Remove weeds from your yard in their early stages. Weeds are often starting points for mice to dig since there’s an opening there, making the job a little easier.
  • Avoid leaving yard clippings, leaves and other debris out in your yard. Dispose of these right away to keep your yard clean and free of mice. If there are no mice, they won’t be able to dig a hole in your yard!

Best Solutions to Remedy the Problem

Natural repellents are an ideal solution for keeping mice out of your yard and preventing more holes from popping up. If you catch the problem early enough, this is likely all it will take to drive them away for good.

4 Fragrant Plants to Repel Mice

If you’re dealing with a serious infestation, snap traps are often the second resort. If you don’t have pets or children in your yard, poison pellets can be used. Just make sure other animals don’t have access to them like cats and dogs.

In addition to traps, repellents and poison pellets, keeping your yard clean is a must. Make sure you tackle yard cleanup before you begin treating the holes in your front or back yard.

Keeping mice out of your yard can seem like a difficult task, and while they are part of nature, they don’t have to call your front or back yard home. Snap traps and spray repellents can work well, but if they don’t have the desired effect on your property, you may need to turn to professional pest control treatment. Unfortunately the longer you wait, the more likely you are to have a serious problem that requires professional help. That’s why acting quickly is important when trying to get mice to stop digging holes and leave your property.

The good news is that mice can be banished one way or another. Try these simple remedies, and if they don’t work in a few weeks, consider calling in the pros. From there, you can easily handle prevention so mice don’t come back to your yard and create more problems in the future.

You can find further details of Mice Control here.

Getting rid of field mice outside in your yard and garden is more difficult than in your home. Even if you have a solid fence around your property field mice, voles, shrews and rats can dig under fences, squeeze through tiny spaces that you will not even notice. All those critters can climb and jump also higher than you thought possible. To see a detailed list of mice facts read here.

Mice can carry a number of diseases, some can be deadly for humans and pets, so having a colony of mice in your yard is bad enough, but it’s also only one step away from having them enter your house. You need to read here if you have mice in your house already.

In this post I will discuss the following:

  • what attracts mice and to your yard
  • how to minimize the chances of having an infestation
  • mice can use your yard as a stepping stone to your house, garage or car.
  • what mice use as shelter
  • what mice eat
  • how to get rid of mice and rats in your yard

What attracts mice, rats and other critters to your yard:

There are few common things that attract mice, food, shelter, and familiar scent or environment.

If you have food and shelter in your yard, mice will be very happy to setup homestead there. If one of your close neighbors has one and you have the other than they will travel between the yards too.

Familiar scent or environment will also attract mice and rats. If mice have been there already they left a scent of poop and pee and perhaps some old nests, well the new visitors will gladly move in if you did not clean out the old mess left behind.

Mice shelter:

For mice shelter can be anything that provides shelter from rain, wind and predators. For a more detailed list of places in your yard that mice can hide read here.

mouse path through grass in yard

Mice travel:

Long grass, shrubs: Mice do not like to travel through flat open spaces, if you keep long grass in your yard, mice will feel protected and more likely to travel freely through corridors and paths. They will also travel along fences and walls , under discarded building materials, and generally anything else that will provide cover. In short the tidier your yard is the less chance that mice will be attracted to it.

Mice food:

Mice are omnivores and will eat pretty much anything but they do prefer nuts, grains, cereals, and seeds.

  • Bird seed: Yes bird seed! If you have a bird feeder in your yard, there will no doubt be some bird seeds spilled on the ground and that’s perfect food for mice. If you do have a bird feeder, make sure that it is squirrel proof such as this one Squirrel Buster Plus, and place it over a surface such as concrete or tile patio, that can be swept up as not to leave attractive food for mice. This will minimize the spilled seeds and help with cleanup after messy birds.
  • Pet food: Do you feed your dog or cat outside ? Whether on the grass or deck, little bits of food, or sometimes big bits of food, will be dropped around and mice will be there to collect every single crumb. Mice will remember this and come back. So if you are feeding your pet outside, find a place that is easy to cleanup. You can always get a large patio stone or two and use that.
  • Growing fruit or vegetables: Fruit trees, shrubs, and gardens can produce perfect food for mice. Make sure to collect and dispose of any food that has fallen or is ripe for picking. A great garden tool for picking up fallen fruit is Garden Weasel Large Gatherer, as the name implies it’s used for gathering fruit and nuts that are on the ground. Don’t let your produce sit on the ground, that is a feast for mice, rats, squirrels, raccoons, and many other unwanted visitors.
  • Compost: Composting is a great idea but for mice, rats, raccoons, and other pests, that is an open buffet. Composting is a great idea but you need a composter that is off the ground. This Tumbling Composter is great because it is raised off the ground where mice can not reach it, it also has 2 separate bins so you can have one with recent additions and one that is ready for spreading. Best of all it will not server as a buffet for mice!

If the food supply is regular they will look for a place to setup nests near by as mentioned in the other post. They will collect the seeds, fruit, vegetables and any other food available and take it to their nest, chances are you will never see them doing it as they are nocturnal. Even though nocturnal means that they are night creatures, mice are most active around dusk and dawn, this is the time they feel most safe from predators. Keep in mind that mice and rats alike are very adaptable and will adjust their schedule to a time when they feel most comfortable.

Get rid of mice and rats in your yard:

The numbers of mice outside will likely be larger than inside and other unintended animals can set the traps off too, so you need a different approach. Using poison bate also works better outside as you don’t have to worry about mice dying hidden places in your house.

Using mousetraps:

With outside mousetraps you have to think about convenience, so you need something that will kill multiple mice without the need to reset it manually each time.

There is one outside trap that I found that is simply one of the best Automatic Humane Non-Toxic Rat and Mouse Trap Kit with Counter, it uses pneumatic action to instantly and humanly kill mice and rats. It is more expensive than a typical snap trap but here are the great points about it:

    • Uses pneumatic action to kill up to 24 mice or rats per one cartridge, there is no poison!
    • It uses standard compressed CO2 cartridges, the CO2 cartridges are replaceable and commonly available.
    • Scavengers cleanup the mess, when using outside, scavengers will most often cleanup the dead mice.
    • It works on mice and rats.
    • It is weather proof.
    • Certified humane.
    • Uses a counter to inform you how many kills it made.

Using poison:

When using poison outside you still need to think about kids or other animals that might play with it or eat it.

This is a very effective mouse poison Just One Bite II Bar 4 Pack, I recommend 2 packs of these. You also need to use a Bait Station, and also 2 packs of these, to protect kids, pets and other animals from the poison. Poison is very effective if there is a large population of mice or rats.

The bait station works by securing the poison inside the bait station compartment and only small animals such as mice and rats can get in. Once in, they take a few bites and leave. It takes 4 to 5 days after feeding to see results.


Keep you yard trimmed and tidy, remove debris and ensure potential hiding places are blocked.

  1. Remove all potential food off the ground.
  2. Set up traps for current mice or rats.
  3. If you had mice before clean up and dispose of the mess by removing nests and covering up holes and trails in the ground.
  4. Following these steps will help you minimize the possibility of mice making a home in your yard.

PS: you you have any helpful hints please share below. Thanks!


Common mice can be recognized by their ocher-brown coat and dark grey or chamois underbelly. They are one of three species (in addition to Norway rats and roof rats) that live in a close relationship with humans. Unlike young rats, mice have a rather pointy nose, smaller feet and well-developed ears. The white (albino) form is the most frequently used laboratory animal. Other small rodents with which they can be confused are indigenous species (native to our regions) often seen in the wild. For example, the damage sometimes observed at the base of young trees is usually caused by voles that are incorrectly referred to as “field mice”. Deer mice are also found in country homes or outdoors; they are hard to differentiate from white-footed mice (with white underbellies), jumping mice (with long tails) and shrews (with very pointed noses and tiny eyes).


Common mice will dig nest holes in the ground if they have no access to other shelters. Their nest resembles a 10 to 15 cm diameter ball made of fine shreds of paper or cloth. Mice can have 5 to 10 litters in any given year, each with about 6 young (laboratory mice have produced up to 100 offspring in one year). However, those that live in cities must compete for food and shelter in addition to avoiding predators (rats and cats). The young are born hairless, with their eyes closed and they mature between the sixth and tenth week. Mating can occur throughout the year, but is most common in spring and late summer.

Common mice are less dependant on water supplies than rats. They also consume lesser amounts of food and nibble here and there (3 g per day). They love seeds and grain, but sometimes prefer food rich in sugar, proteins or fats such as bacon, chocolate or butter. They also feed on vegetables, fruits, fungi, roots, meat, insects, etc. Mice cannot distinguish colors but have excellent senses of smell, taste and touch. They are primarily nocturnal animals. Their daily activities take place within a radius of 3 to 9 meters. They are able to climb and can jump over 30 cm.

Places where they can be found in the home

Mice infest stored food as well as pet food. They can gnaw structures in addition to wires, and damage wall insulation materials, and can shred clothing and documents when looking for nest building materials. Common mice nest in boxes, closets, attics, basements or garages. If you see more mice in the area around your house, you should suspect an indoor problem, since they tend to occupy hard to reach places such as inside walls and spaces under floors. Common mice are found in homes and stores more often than rats. They also infest museums and garages. If food is accessible, these mice can also live on farms or in fields where they will dig their burrow in the ground or make a nest under a rock. The access hole to their burrow is 2.5 cm in diameter.

Signs of infestation include: the noises they make; finding excrements that are sharp at one or both ends (0.6 cm or less in length) on the floor or in cupboards or closets (they produce from 40 to 100 per day); tracks left by their feet (1 to 1.9 cm) or tails (2 mm wide); greasy traces left by their coat in passing; damage they cause by gnawing (1 to 2 mm wide marks); or entrance holes (4 cm or less in diameter). The urine of this mouse fluoresces when illuminated by ultraviolet light. Also, because it deposits hundreds of droplets of urine along its path, you can smell its specific odour. You can spot mice during the night using a flashlight.

Prevention methods

Keep food in sturdy containers, sweep often, and practice good waste management to reduce sources of food for mice. It is also best not to leave boxes or other rubbish, which could serve as shelter, lying around. These measures alone are not enough to solve a mouse problem but they will help a lot; the mice will have fewer alternatives to the toxic bait offered to them, it will be easier to detect signs of their presence, and the population will not become too numerous.

Since mice can enter houses through small openings, it is best to inspect the exterior of the house and plug up any openings greater than 0.6 cm (which is not easy) with resistant materials such as mortar, cement or galvanized sheet metal. Such measures should also be applied to the holes around pipes that enter the house. Some authors suggest that mice can get through a slot the thickness of a dime, hence the importance of plugging such openings. Installing screens on windows and air vents; metal panels under wooden doors are also recommended.

If these prevention methods are not adopted, there will be nothing to stop new mice from getting into your home.

Control methods

Mice are said to eat only about one-tenth of the food they spoil by urinating and defecating, or leaving their hair behind. They can also transmit the virus that causes meningitis (69% are infected) as well as tapeworms, and pass on various pathogens by biting, or via flees or mites they carry. Since they can contribute to starting fires when they damage electrical wires, their presence should not be tolerated.

You should learn to distinguish common mice, that are not just temporary invaders, from other indigenous species that can get into the house in the fall. To control common mice you will also need to monitor their food source and trap individuals that live somewhere in the house.

The options for combating mice are more or less the same as for rats. However, even though mice are less afraid of new objects and are less dependent of a water supply than rats, they only require a little space and manage to survive on very small amounts of food that they nibble on here and there. This is why a strategy is required to get them to absorb the necessary dose of anticoagulant or poison. Always read the label carefully before using a rodent killing chemical.

It is often better to use mousetraps and attach them to solid objects to prevent bad smells from undiscovered dead animals. You can glue two mousetraps together, side by side, and enlarge the trigger by attaching a piece of metal to it. The bait must be placed near the wall, along the mouse’s path. Let the mouse get used to the bait for several days at first before setting the traps. Small pieces of bread, chocolate, bacon, cake, dried fruit, cheese, seeds or peanut butter can be used as bait. The traps should be set close to one another since mice do not wander far from their sources of shelter and food. You can also capture mice (regardless of their size) with sticky traps by placing bait (peanut butter, jam or cake crumbs) in the middle. Live-capture traps are also available.

You should allow mice time to get used to the bait if you want to add anticoagulants (that cause hemorrhages) or poisons, otherwise they may avoid the bait – with or without a rodent killing chemical – for weeks or even months. In some places in Canada, 75% of the mice have apparently acquired a resistance to the first anticoagulant (Warfarin). Shelters containing bait can also be used for a few days so that the mice feel safe there. Slower-acting products are more often used to overcome the wariness of mice, since these chemicals do not allow them to make the link between their conditions and consumption of the bait. Some formulas (e.g., pellets) are also easier for the mice to handle.

Powders containing a toxic substance (tracking powder) that the mice walk over are also used, but they are not recommended in houses because the rodent killing product is highly concentrated.

Additional information

Some claim that mice evolved from rats that lived in conditions where it was better to be able to escape into small holes than to be big and ferocious.

A hybrid of a rat and laboratory mouse has been produced using artificial insemination.

Some individuals in a mouse population are trap-shy by nature, and will not venture near traps, while others, more adventurous, will risk it more spontaneously.

One author claims that common mice are the most numerous mammal in cities after human beings.

Popular beliefs

You might think you have no mice (or rat) problem because of your pets, but the two can live in close harmony in an urban or suburban setting. Pet food often provides mice with a ready source of nourishment, and the mice can even live under doghouses, taking advantage of your pet’s absence to feed. Getting cats will not solve a mouse problem alone, but cats can prevent a new infestation.

How to Keep Rodents out of the Garden

Although most gardeners think about insects when they think of garden pests, rodents are the scourge of many gardens. Mice, rats, gophers and other rodents not only cause unsightly damage from tunneling through the lawn and garden, they can eventually enter your home after colonizing the garden.

To keep rodents out of the garden – and out of your home – you need to first understand what attracts rodents to the garden and then by changing the habitat, discourage them from taking up residence.

Recognizing the Signs of Rodents

Like any living creature, rodents seek food, water and shelter. Your garden simply appears to them as an extension of the normal woodland or prairie habitat in which they live. Not only does it provide abundant food, but sprinkler systems provide water, and the abundance of vegetation provides suitable shelter.

Rodents can colonize compost piles, garden beds, ornamental plantings and lawns. Once they infest your yard, they’ll continue to seek even better accommodations, especially as winter arrives. They often find entrances into houses, sheds and garages through tiny openings. While gophers generally remain in outdoor colonies, rats and mice prefer the warmth found within houses. If rats and mice are left unchecked in the garden, they may seek shelter inside your home.

How to tell if rodents are a problem in your garden? Look for the following signs:

  • You see them: Aside from activity in your yard and garden, rats often travel on top of power lines, especially at dawn and dusk. Watch for rats along fences and trees, too.
  • Plants disappearing overnight: New plantings, seedlings, and sprouts often disappear overnight without a trace. Some appear to be tugged under the ground from below. Deer and rabbits chew plants from above, often tugging them out of the earth and leaving roots behind. Rats, mice and gophers disturb plants from below, often pulling at the roots or gnawing at them from below.
  • Tunnels in the ground: Rats, mice, gophers and other rodents often carve tunnels in the ground, connected by small entrance and exit holes. Gophers leave a larger, more visible mound of soil than rats and mice. These tunnels are the rodents’ superhighways and allow rodents to destroy plants simply by passing through the ground.
  • Mounds: Gophers and rats create mounds of soil to mark the entrance to their burrows.
  • Droppings: Rats, mice and other creatures leave their droppings behind. Rodent droppings look like black grains of rice.

Specific areas of the garden to check for rodent infestations include:

  • Compost piles: Improperly managed compost piles can be like an all-you-can-eat buffet for rats and mice. You’ll spot them easily, especially after digging into the pile and disturbing their nests. Mice are frequent compost pile pests.
  • Sheds: Check for signs that something has been digging under your garden shed. Rats and gophers can tunnel under sheds and set up a residence of their own.
  • Garbage and recycling bins: If you keep your garbage and recycling bins outdoors, look for droppings and chew marks on the bins, a sure sign that rodents are around. You should check frequently for holes in these containers, and you may want to convert from plastic to metal cans.
  • Wood Piles: Outdoor wood piles are attractive places for rodents to build nests. If your wood pile is in the garden, you may have inadvertently built a rodent hotel. Restack it periodically.
  • Bird feeders: Birds drop seeds from feeders, which can attract rodents into the garden. Stored bird seed in garden sheds or garages is also attractive to many rodents. Always store bird seed in a sealed, metal, galvanized container.

Do Mice Eat Plants?

Field mice in the wild eat seeds, nuts, berries and vegetation, as well as small insects. Do mice eat plants? Yes, and they will eat garden plants and houseplants, too. Mice are especially fond of seeds, so newly planted garden seeds like corn and sunflower seeds are a favorite target of garden mice. Newly emerging grass seed, grains and leafy green vegetables are also appealing to mice.

The Dangers of Rodents in the Garden

Rats and mice not only destroy your hard work by eating plants in the garden, they can also infect your garden with several pathogens. Salmonellosis, for instance, can be spread by rat feces in or near vegetable gardens. After the infected rat leaves droppings in your vegetable garden, watering spreads the bacteria from the ground by splashing it onto leaves and fruit. Lettuce, spinach and many herbs and vegetables can be contaminated in this way, causing severe diarrhea and stomach cramps within 3 days of ingesting infected materials.

Rats, mice and other rodents can be the primary agents of infection, spreading various viral and bacterial diseases. They can also carry fleas and ticks, which spread diseases such as Lyme (from ticks) and other infections.

Rodent infestations are, unfortunately, a common sign of poor sanitation. It’s a good idea to check your yard and garden for debris if you suspect a rodent infestation. Not only can the rodents themselves spread diseases, but poor garden sanitation can lead to plant diseases. A clean garden is a healthy garden – and one that’s less attractive to rodents.

How to Keep Rodents Out of the Garden

Knowing how to keep rodents out of the garden depends on properly identifying the type of rodent damaging your plants. Ask yourself the following questions to help identify the right rodent:

  • Are there visible mounds in the yard?— If the answer is yes, you are likely dealing with gophers or moles. A conical-shaped mound is the work of the eastern mole, while a round or heart-shaped mound is a sign of the pocket gopher.
  • Are seeds being eaten from the ground without the soil surface disturbed? – You may be dealing with mice or rats.
  • Is plant material, especially fruit scraps, disappearing from the compost pile? — Check for droppings — it’s likely that mice are infesting your compost pile. Opossums and many other wildlife also feed on compost pile materials.
  • Is there a burrow with a small entrance? — Is the entrance hard to find? Is the burrow near a water source? If the answer to these questions is yes, you’re probably dealing with the Norway rat. Norway rats like to make burrows near dependable water sources and buildings such as sheds or garages.

Once you’ve identified the likely suspect, it’s time to take action. Here are several steps you can take to keep rodents out of the garden:

  • Remove their shelter— Rats and mice like to make nests in brush piles, wood piles and tall grass. Keep grass cut throughout the gardening season. Don’t pile spent plants near your garden; bag them and discard them in the trash. Periodically move wood piles. For mice infestations in compost piles, make the compost pile as unattractive to mice as possible. Turn the compost weekly and spray it with a garden hose.
  • Eliminate their food sources – If your bird feeders are attracting rodents into the garden, you may need to take them down for a few weeks, just long enough to give rodents the message that their free lunch is over. Prevent bird seed spills by filling your feeder carefully and storing bird seed in closed metal bins that rodents cannot chew through.
  • Control lawn grubs — Grubs attract many rodents, including gophers, moles and rats. Use milky spore or other treatments to kill lawn grubs so the rodents’ food source is gone. In addition to keeping rodents out of the garden, you’ll also reduce the population of Japanese beetles, an added plus for gardeners!
  • Improve sanitation near your garden — If you keep garbage or recycling bins near the garden, be sure to keep them clean. Wash them down with the garden hose once a week and use a household cleaner to scrub the inside out. Leftover food particles or scents on the bins may be luring rodents into the yard.
  • Seal holes— Mice can squeeze through holes the size of a dime. It’s important to seal up any entrances into sheds or outbuildings to prevent mice and other rodents from finding a comfortable spot to overwinter. Seal holes with wood or metal.
  • Fences – Gophers can be kept out of gardens by stout fences. The same fence that keeps gophers out will also keep rabbits out, another benefit of using fences. Use a quarter-inch hardware cloth and make a fence out of it around your garden. Bury the edge of the cloth 18 inches below the soil, and angle it outward several inches underground and away from the garden. This way if the gophers dig under the soil, they’ll hit the hardware cloth and turn away.
  • Mesh tubes — Plastic mesh tubes can be placed around tender seedlings to prevent gophers and rats from eating them.

How to Get Rid of Rodents in My Garden

Walk into any hardware store and you can find traps and other devices said to repel rodents. Some work well, while others work intermittently. Rodents, especially rats, are highly intelligent and shy creatures. They’ve learned how to avoid predators, and may quickly learn that a repellent isn’t going to harm them. You may need to change your strategy periodically to keep rodents on their toes.

Water can be used to evict rodents from their burrows. A garden hose sprayed directly into a burrow opening may force the rodents out. They may move back in, but if done frequently enough they can get the picture that this isn’t a good garden to inhabit.

If all else fails, it’s time to set out traps that won’t endanger pets, children or non-targeted wildlife. While traps may be unpleasant, they do work to reduce or eliminate rodent colonies in your home or garden. Bait traps with peanut butter. While unlikely to injure children or pets, it’s best to place an outdoor trap in out-of-the-way areas. Larger rodents such as gophers may require bigger traps.

In addition to more traditional mouse traps, live traps are available that can catch and hold up to 30 mice. These must be checked in order to know when the trap is getting full and in need of emptying – – especially if you use ones that can only capture a single rodent. Be sure to release far from your property, and be mindful to keep them away from the property of others, too!

Rodenticides poison rats and mice with tainted bait. Such bait can be dangerous because the poisons that work on rodents can also kill humans and other mammals that may accidentally come into contact with them. Many states now strictly regulate the use of rodenticides, and special tamper-proof bait stations must be used to keep curious pets and children out of them. Such bait stations must be placed near burrow openings to be effective. Rats may not find or take the bait. It’s a smart idea to consult with a pest control expert before using rodenticides and bait stations.

Precautions When Handling Traps

Trapped animals, if still alive, can be dangerous. A bite from a mouse or rat contains microorganisms that can cause infection and disease. Always handle traps carefully and wear thick, protective gloves when disposing of dead rodents. Wash your hands with soap and water after handling traps or rodent carcasses.

Rats, mice, gophers and other rodents are common garden pests. By removing their food, water and shelter, and making your garden as unpleasant for them as possible, you can encourage them to move along and find a home elsewhere. Although traps may be an unpleasant thought, they can be very effective. With some diligence and effort, you can rid your garden of rodent pests.

A giant plant that can gobble up bugs and even rodents has been discovered in Southeast Asia.

The carnivorous plant (nepenthes attenboroughii) was found by researchers atop Mt. Victoria, a remote mountain in Palawan, Philippines. The research team, led by Stewart McPherson of Red Fern Natural History Productions, had learned of the plant in 2000 after a group of Christian missionaries stumbled upon it while trekking up a remote mountain and reported it to a local newspaper.

The discovery, announced last week, was detailed in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.

The pitcher plant is the world’s second largest and can grow to more than 4 feet tall, with a pitcher-shaped structure filled with liquid. The plant secretes nectar around its mouth to lure rats, insects and other prey into its trap. Once an animal has fallen in, enzymes and acids in the fluid break down the carcass of the drowned victim.

“All carnivorous plants have evolved to catch insects but the biggest ones, such as this one, can eat rats and frogs,” McPherson told LiveScience. “It’s truly remarkable that a plant this big has been undiscovered for so long.”

The world’s largest pitcher plant (nepenthes rajah) was discovered in 1858 by British naturalist Hugh Low in Borneo. The plant’s rat-eating habit was confirmed four years later when his colleague Spenser St. John found a drowned rat inside one of the specimens.

Though some have approached McPherson to ask about the likelihood of cultivating the monster plants as mouse traps for rodent-infested regions like New York City, the botanist (who also happens to specialize in pitcher plants) says he finds the idea “a bit far-fetched.”

“Mice and rats are attracted to the sweet nectar of the plant, but it only catches them occasionally,” says McPherson. “It just isn’t practical. There will be too many mice for the plant to catch anyways.”

In July 1925, a young science teacher named John Scopes was in court, accused of contravening the Butler Act—a Tennessee law that prohibited the teaching of evolution in schools.

This Man Was Tried in Tennessee for Teaching Evolution (2:25)

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Warthogs Have the Tools to Survive in a Drought (2:02)

On March 10, 1933, a major earthquake caught the Los Angeles area by surprise. The devastation was of sufficient scale to spur scientific interest in earthquakes—and how to predict them.

Scientists Didn’t Know Much About Earthquakes Before 1933 (3:18)

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A Herd of Elephants Interrupt a Feasting Lion Pride (2:16)

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This Is the Largest Mammal Migration in the World (2:40)

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How This School Prepares Orphan Orangutans for the Wild (3:47)

In 1925, an Alaskan adventurer and his trusted Siberian husky completed a grueling 600-mile journey across the frozen plains. Their exploits would end up saving the lives of 2,000 people.

A 600-Mile Journey Across Alaska Saves the Town of Nome (2:12)

Wolves are elite hunters of the American wilderness. They can smell their unsuspecting prey from a mile away and hear them from a distance 10 times as far. Join explorer Casey Anderson as he follows a tenacious wolf pack on the trail of an unsuspecting elk herd, deep in the wilds of Montana.

Casey Anderson’s Wild Tracks: Wolves on the Hunt (3:59)

An American biologist sets out to study the little-known Kinda baboon species—and this involves getting close to them in their natural habitat. Everything is of interest, from their fur patterns to their mannerisms.

A Biologist Studies a New Species of Baboon (3:46)

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