We see those little mice in cages at the local pet store, and we say “Isn’t he cute”? That little nose, the delicate-looking front feet… But, you might not think so after reading this post. You see, a mouse in your house is more than just an unwanted pest – – – the free-loading tenant is actually a health hazard.
They’re small at 2-3″, and less than an ounce in weight. They nest in out of the way places, preferring their privacy, if you will. They’re light brown to gray in color, with small, black eyes and large ears.
They’re also nocturnal, most active at night while you’re sleeping. They are incredibly flexible, too, and can fit through holes as small as a quarter inch. That’s about the size of a nickel. Floor speed can reach 12 feet per second, and they can swim, too, upwards of a half mile.
If you’re a sound sleeper, you might not know you have a house guest. But, you’ll know quickly when you find a dead one, or come upon their nest, or notice gnawed holes around your house. Or perhaps it will be their droppings, 1/4 – 1/8th inch with pointed end or ends.
Okay, you know what mice look like. But what about the dangers of mice in the home? For example, can mice in the house make you sick? Unfortunately, evidence indicates that they can.
Mice vs. Rats
Some people operate under the mistaken assumption that when it comes to disease, having rats in your home is a severe health emergency that must be addressed immediately, while a mouse or two is not much of a problem. There may be a few reasons for this misconception. Rats are bigger than mice. To many, they’re also uglier, with beadier eyes, more prominent teeth and thick, imposing tails.
You’re probably also more likely to see rats going through a pile of garbage or scurrying into a sewer, although again, that may just be due to them being larger and more noticeable than mice.
When it comes to diseases, though, rats have no great edge on mice. They can carry the same range of dangerous diseases and transmit them the same way. A rat might be a little more likely to bite you, but as you’ll see below, there are plenty of other ways a mouse can get you sick, too.
Mice Infestations Health Risks
The Center for Disease Control reports that rats and mice can spread over 35 diseases. Is mouse poop toxic to humans? Absolutely. According to the CDC: “These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents also can be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent.”
If you read that last statement carefully, you’ll notice that it’s not just mice poop you have to worry about, but mouse urine, too. That’s right — mice have no bladder control, and thus are problematic as they trail urine wherever they walk. They also will leave between 50 and 75 droppings every day. They’ll feed on and contaminate your food with urine, droppings and hair, and are estimated to cause more than $1 billion of damage each year. Yes, $1 billion.
While there are dozens of infections rodents can spread, some of the worst include:
- Hantavirus: Can lead to a potentially fatal respiratory disease
- Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV): Can lead to permanent neurological damage
- Tularemia: Can produce ulceration and dangerously high fevers
Of course, there’s also disease rats and mice are most famously associated with — the plague. Plague outbreaks are not just a fear of medieval history. An urban rat-plague outbreak occurred in the United States less than a century ago, and human plague infections still crop up in rural and semi-rural areas from time to time.
Of course, these are extreme cases, and you probably will not contract these illnesses from mice in your home — but it’s not impossible. Plus, there are plenty of other less severe mouse and rat-transmitted diseases you are far more likely to encounter.
Mouse Infestations and Your Home
So, how cute do you think they are now? It’s the time of year when mice are looking for a warm place to spend the winter. They’ll find the smallest points of entry into your home, and nestle in a soft pile of insulation, perhaps. And, unless you are vigilant, that will happen before you even know they are inside with you.
Think your home is safe from mouse or rat infestation? Guess again. When winter strikes, rodents head for warmer havens in droves, and almost no home is safe. According to the National Pest Management Association, roughly 21 million households fall victim to rodent invasions every year.
Protect Your Home From the Dangers of Rodent Infestation in the Cape Cod Area With Pest Pros
The Pest Pros inspections are FREE. All you need to do is submit our simple electronic contact form to get started. If you suspect your home has been invaded, you really ought to act fast.
If you are concerned you may have a mouse, rat or other pest problem in or around the Cape Cod area, get in touch online, or call us at (508) 888-0999 today. We’ll be there tomorrow to help you take your home back from those cute but insidious pests.