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The Home Depot

Why Do I Have Mice or Rats?

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Extermination > Why Do I Have Mice or Rats?
Why Do I Have Mice or Rats?

Sharing your home with furry critters of the rodent variety may not be the way you wish to run your household. Not only are they unsanitary, they can also be exceedingly destructive with chewing and foraging for food and shelter throughout all the nooks and crannies of your home.


When mice and rats invade your home, your first reaction may be panic and then you probably want to take action immediately. The University of Georgia School of Forest Resources Extension website offers helpful information about the types of mice and rats that will enter a home. There are only a few varieties that will take the leap from outdoors to indoors in a home. These details will help you determine how to eliminate them.


Although rodent pests can be unpleasant, it’s possible to determine why you have mice and rats to eliminate them effectively.

  1. 1.It’s Not Your Fault

    When mice and rats come indoors, resist the urge to beat yourself up about it. These rodents are scavengers and it’s their job to find food and shelter wherever they can. If your house is readily available, they’ll seize the opportunity. Mice and rats are also curious animals, exploring and examining their environment to find shelter and food. Because they don’t have exceptional eyesight, they rely on their senses of smell, touch and taste to explore.

  2. 2.Finding Evidence

    As you examine your home to see whether you have an infestation, look for several tell-tale signs that will indicate rodents in your home. Droppings left behind from rodents are one of the most important things to look for. Mouse droppings are about the size of a kernel of rice and rat droppings are about as large as a raisin. You may also notice tracking as the rodents scurry along the floor. If you sprinkle a bit of flour over the floor, you might even be able to see tracks. You may also find evidence of chewing on wood and on paper. Finally, if you listen closely, you may hear mice or rats scurrying along behind the walls.

  3. 3.They Can Be Harmful To Your Health

    Sharing your home with mice and rats can be a health risk. As they scurry over surfaces, they may leave behind germs from their feet. Rodents pass disease by biting, urine and droppings, also. If rodents infest your food, they may leave germs and diseases behind in your food. If mice and rats have ticks or fleas, these insects can also spread disease.

  4. 4.Where They Enter

    There are specific situations that can be attractive to mice and rats, making your home an inviting domicile for them. If you keep garbage outdoors in cans that are accessible, this will attract rodents to your home. Use trash receptacles that are rodent-proof to keep them from getting into your trash. Never throw food scraps into compost bins, either, because this can attract rodents.


    Keep your yard clean, always cleaning up any nuts or fruits that fall to the ground from trees. If you keep a pet outdoors, do not leave the food and water out continually because this can attract pests. If you feed birds, use rodent-proof feeders and always clean up the birdseed that falls to the ground under the feeders. Eliminate water sources outdoors as well. Fix plumbing leaks and cover pools outdoors.


    Avoid planting shrubs and flowers near your home because this can provide shelter for rodents. Avoid leaving piles of lumber or other items laying around because rodents can use these areas for shelter. Discarded furniture and automobiles can also attract rodents. If you store firewood, store it at least 1.5 feet off the ground to prevent rodent infestation.

  5. 5.Seal Holes Outside

    It’s important to perform a thorough examination of your home to determine where rodents may be entering. Holes in window screens can be a common entrance for rodents. They could also come in around drain openings, around pipes and at the point where cables come into the home through walls. Check your foundation for cracks. Cover attic vents and crawl spaces with metal screening of 1/4-inch or smaller mesh. If a hole is large enough to fit the tip of your smallest finger, it’s large enough for a mouse to pass through. Seal these holes with stainless steel or add caulk to the holes to fill them.

  6. 6.Cheese or Peanut Butter Traps

    Traps are an effective way to get rid of mice and rats. The old fashioned snap traps – inexpensive and easy to use – continue to be one of the well-designed and effective traps for rodents. Use peanut butter or cheese spread in the traps because these foods will adhere firmly to the trip pedal and prevent the mouse or rat from merely stealing the food without tripping the trap. With the trap set, it’s only a matter of time before the cheese spread or peanut butter lures a rodent in and then you can dispose of it out of your house.

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