As if this year hasn’t been eventful enough, the Long Island fall season is here, which means critters like mice and rodents are on the move! As the temperatures cool down and the fall foliage on Long Island takes form, these pests will seek out warm, cozy nooks and crannies in your home to take up shop for the colder months.
Here’s how to prevent mice in your house this fall, starting with what sort of furry little critters to be on the lookout for.
Deer Mouse vs. House Mouse
On Long Island, there are a couple of commonly seen mice: the deer mouse and the house mouse. While these mice are both similar in size and color, these rodents have quite a few differences, which can affect how they get into your house, and what sort of damage they can cause to your home, family, and belongings.
Deer mice, or as they’re often referred to—the white footed deer mouse—measure in at about 5.5-7 inches long including their tails. They’re usually gray, brown, or black, and have a distinct pattern on their fur which looks similar to that of a deer, along with—you guessed it—white feet! They’re also fast and agile, adding to their association with deer.
On Long Island, deer mice are most often found in fields, wooded areas, and farmlands, but they will nest in nearby buildings, often behind walls and inside attics and chimneys. Deer mice are nocturnal, so you are much more likely to catch deer mice in the house sneaking around at night in search of foods like seeds, fruits, and nuts.
There are an array of safety risks caused by deer mice, including the biological, such as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, an often fatal infectious disease contracted by humans from deer mice via air contaminated by infected urine, droppings, and saliva. Deer mice are also powerful chewers, and can easily damage electrical wires and wood structures, as well as gardens and landscaping.
As for the house mouse’s size, these pests are slightly larger than deer mice, measuring around 5-8 inches long including their tails. These critters are usually brown and white, with large ears and tails covered in a light layer of velvety fur, along with small, beady, black eyes.
Unlike deer mice which are commonly seen in the great outdoors, house mice are commensal rodents. This means they are at least somewhat reliant on humans for their essential needs—food, water, and shelter, so they’re quite common in Long Island homes.
When inside homes, house mice are usually found living and nesting behind walls, in attics, basements, crawlspaces, and behind large appliances.
Unlike the deer mouse, hantavirus is less of a threat from house mice, however they are the primary hosts of Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis, which is a rodent-borne viral infection an estimated 5 percent of United States house mice carry. Transmission occurs after exposure to fresh house mouse droppings, urine, saliva, or nesting materials from infected mice, however a bite from an infected mouse may also transmit the disease. This illness consists of two phases; the first phase results in flu-like symptoms, and the second may include meningitis, encephalitis, or both.
Signs of Mice
If you suspect you’re dealing with a mouse problem, there are several key indicators of mouse activity.
If you see a mouse, live or dead, it could be an indicator that you’re dealing with an infestation. In particular, if you see a live mouse during the daytime, you could have quite a problem.
Mouse droppings are small (less than ¼ inch long), dark, and pointed on both ends. If you find droppings that are larger (around ½ inch long), you may actually be dealing with rats. Droppings may likely be found near food packages, in drawers or cabinets, or under sinks.
Holes or Tears in Personal Items
You may find mysterious tears in papers or packages, or gnawed holes around the size of a dime on your personal items.
Mice travel along walls, and leave behind dark oily marks when they rub their bodies alongside those walls. If the rub marks smear, they’re likely fresh.
Mice commonly take routes along walls, foundations, ledges, pipes, and rails.
As mentioned, mice are nocturnal, so you may hear scratching sounds at night when they run inside wall voids and along your floors.
Mice use materials like shredded paper, fabric, and dried plant matter in order to call your house their home.
Mice frequently urinate, and your house may develop a stale, ammonia-like odor, often coming from hidden areas.