The House Mouse and Its Cousins
There are so many pest species in Western Australia and around the Perth area that it is sometimes easy to focus on certain groups to the exclusion of others. Often times, when we think about pest species, various kinds of insects tend to dominate our thoughts. There are, however, pests outside of the insect realm – including everything from reptiles to mammals. One mammalian species can be particularly troublesome, especially when it decides to take up residence inside your home. That species is, of course, the mouse. The House Mouse – and to a lesser extent its field mouse cousin – is a major pest nuisance in and around Perth.
House and Field Mouse
Though there are many different varieties of mice living throughout Australia, only two are considered to be real menaces to human society: the field mouse and the house mouse. Together, these two mouse types represent most of the damage, sickness, and general annoyance experienced by homeowners, businesses, and society at large. They are quite different animals, however, and each represents a unique form of pest threat.
Meet the Field Mouse…
The Field Mouse is, as his name suggests, most commonly found in the wild. These creatures tend to prefer the outdoors, but will also take up residence in uninhabited structures where people and other animals rarely venture. They also are frequent visitors to sheds, barns, and similar structures in which various food sources are sometimes stored. Because of that, they are considered more of a threat to agricultural businesses than to homes. Fortunately, their activity and damage is relatively limited.
An adult field mouse can be as large as 190mm from nose to tail, and can weigh as much as 25g. They can typically be identified from their coloring, which tends to be a combination of orange and brown along the back and head, with white stomachs and a hint of yellow fur on the sides and the chest. In the wild, their lifespan is seldom more than four or five months at best. Even so, they breed prolifically, become active early, and can thus quickly grow in numbers when they find an area with a ready supply of seeds, grains, and other food.
Meet the House Mouse…
The House Mouse is a little smaller than his cousin, with his body and tail roughly equal in length. Body weight can range from between 12g and 30g. His fur is primarily in brown and grey shades, with white fur on his underbody, highlighted with just the slightest of yellow hues. These mice are often confused for brown rats, but the differences between those two species is actually fairly easy to spot. The House Mouse is marked by larger ears and smaller feet.
Like Field Mice, these creatures can multiply fairly rapidly, and become active quite quickly as well. They can begin to reproduce within as little as three months from birth. Of course, the real problem with this variety of mouse is the fact that it is so adaptable and remains active at all times of the year. That means, of course, that you have to be alert to their possible presence in your home or business throughout the year.
This variety of mice may live on the ground, as it prefers to burrow into safer environs, but that doesn’t mean that heights are necessarily an obstacle. The House Mouse is a fairly accomplished climber, and will go to great lengths to reach available food sources no matter how high and off-limits they may see to be. Their preferred food source is, of course, cereals and grains, and they can eat somewhere in the neighborhood of 3g of that food in a single day.
The Mouse’s Unique Environmental Flexibility
Mice are among the most successful mammalian species on the planet, and are present in one form or another throughout much of the world. In Western Australia, native varieties such as the Little Native Mouse play an integral role in the ecosystem, providing a critical link between plants and larger predatory animals and birds.
Unfortunately, that level of survivability has brought mice into close quarters with human habitats, particularly in the case of the House Mouse. That variety of mouse is not native to Australia, and entered the continent with European settlers long ago. Since that time, they have spread out across the country, and have taken root in and around Perth. The problem is that they are not content to live in the wild like most native species, but instead seek out human homes where there is readily available shelter, warmth, and an abundant supply of food.
Why They Make Poor House Guests
While they certainly have their place in nature, the more invasive species can be particularly troublesome for humans. There are a number of reasons for this, but they all come down to two things: damage to your home and potential health hazards for everyone in the house. Both are serious threats and should never be ignored.
Mice multiply quickly. As they do, they construct nests, often within the walls of the home. During their nightly excursions throughout the home, they gnaw on furniture, shred paper and cardboard, and chew their way into food cartons. As they engage in these activities, they can contaminate your food stores with their droppings, including pet food. That contamination can lead to the spread of a number of different diseases, including Salmonella and Hantavirus.
Those droppings are also believed to be possible asthma causes for small children. Active mice can even chew through wires and increase the risk of electrical fires within the home. Obviously, any infestation must be dealt with promptly to prevent serious damage and health complications.
How to Know When Your Home Has Been Invaded
Mice generally become firmly entrenched within the home long before humans realize that the invasion has occurred. This is primarily due to the fact that these creatures are nocturnal and are almost never seen in the daylight hours. Naturally, that means that most homeowners will never see a mouse in their home until they find one lying dead in a well-placed trap. The good news is that mice do a poor job of completely concealing their presence within the home.
Usually, there are three telltale signs that can give an indication as to their presence. The first is the presence of droppings. Mice droppings are small, rarely exceeding 7 or 8 mms in length – and usually only half that size. In most instances, you’ll only find them located inside cupboards, closets, under furniture, or along baseboards. This is due to the way that mice tend to try to remain out of sight even when they are moving around at night.
The second sign involves noise. If you are awake at night, or happen to be a relatively light sleeper, you might hear squeaks, scampering feet, or scratches in the wall spaces or along the floorboards. Those are sounds that typically accompany the average mouse’s nocturnal activities. Sadly, however, such noises usually only indicate that mice are present. They often offer few clues as to where they have nested.
The third sign is the presence of a foul ammonia odor. That smell is most likely mouse urine, and can often provide the best clues as to where they are located since their frequent urination typically occurs near the area in which they are most active. Still, even this indication may not be sufficient to provide you with the information you need to track down their nesting area.
What to Do in Case of Mouse Infestation
The good news is that once you have identified signs of a mouse infestation, you can take action to deal with the problem. For most people, the first step usually involves some form of do-it-yourself pest removal systems. Mouse traps baited with peanut butter and other methods for capturing the creatures are commonly employed by homeowners and businesses in an attempt to rid the premises of these pests. In many cases where a mouse problem has not become severe, those types of simple approaches to the infestation can prove effective.
For more severe cases, and in instances where you have pets or small children in the home, do-it-yourself mouse removal often fails to be as effective as needed. This is especially true when specific baiting techniques are required, and in cases where the home has structural weaknesses that are failing to block the creatures from taking up residence within the house.
How Professionals Can Help
Competent professional pest removal experts have the tools and experience needed to help you rid your home of your rodent problem. That removal process typically relies on a comprehensive approach to all three main areas of concern:
- 1. Identifying the infestation, locating the nest or nests, and actively using baiting techniques and trapping systems to remove the mice from the premises.
2. Locating any entry points that the mice may be using to gain access to the home, and recommending options that can help you to mouse-proof your house as much as possible.
3. Offering future-looking recommendations about steps that you can take to better prevent a mouse infestation in the future.
While some people might still believe that mice in the home are no real danger, nothing could be further than the truth. Since these rodents pose a serious threat to your property and the health of your family and pets, any indication of mice infestation should be addressed as quickly as possible. Fortunately, there is professional help available to assist you in making your home mouse-free again.