Mice can cause major problems for you if they infest your home. These destructive pests not only breed quickly, but they gnaw on your furniture and spread diseases with their urine and feces. However, they're nocturnal and don't like to be seen, so you may not see any actual rodents in your home, even if you have an infestation. Here are four clues that mice are lurking inside your home.
Your home smells
Mice are smelly creatures, and most of their odor comes from their urine. Rather than urinating in a designated place, like people do, mice dribble urine around your house as they travel. Mice use their smelly urine to communicate with other mice and to mark their territory.
One mouse can release several hundred drops of urine every day, but since these drops are spread out around your home, you might not notice a smell right away. However, as the mouse population grows, and as mice walk over the same pathways, the urine will accumulate and the smell will become noticeable.
People perceive the odor of mouse urine differently. Some people like it and think it smells like popcorn, while others think it smells like ammonia. Either way, you'll notice that your house smells different than it did before the mice moved in.
You see grease marks
Mice don't take showers, so the oil their skin produces gets stuck in their fur. Their fur picks up dirt, dust, and other contaminants. When mice brush up against surfaces, they may leave some of their grease and dirt behind. Over time, as many mice take the same pathways and brush against the same surfaces, the smudges can become noticeable.
Since mice don't want to be detected by you or any other predators while they're moving around your house, their pathways will be found in out-of-the-way places. For example, you may see greasy smears along your baseboards or in the corners of rooms. If you pull your furniture away from the walls, you may see greasy smears behind them, indicating that mice have been sneaking around behind your furniture.
You see paw or tail prints
In dusty or dirty areas of your home, like your closets, windowsills or garage, you may notice tiny paw or tail prints. Mice have very small paws, so their pawprints look more like a collection of small dots than paws. Since mice run erratically—moving backwards and forwards—the paw prints can be confusing and you may not be able to identify individual prints. Tail marks may also be seen in dusty or dirty areas. These tail marks look like thin lines in the dust.
Other types of pests can leave tracks that look similar to mouse tracks, including birds, rats, and even insects, so tracks aren't a sure sign that you have a mouse problem. However, tracks mean that some type of pest is present, and a pest control professional can take a look and identify the tracks for you.
You see droppings
The appearance of mouse droppings in your home is another sign that mice are present. Mouse droppings are about the same size and shape as a grain of rice. When they're new, they're dark brown, but as they dry out, they lighten. You may find these droppings in areas where mice have been active, like inside your kitchen cupboards or drawers.
A single mouse leaves behind as many as 75 fecal pellets every day, explains Pest Revenge, and the quantity of pellets in your home can help you guess how severe the infestation is. Other types of rodents, like squirrels and rats, can leave behind droppings that look very similar, so it's a good idea to have a professional identify the droppings for you.
If you notice any of these signs of a mouse infestation, don't wait until you actually see live mice running around in the open; contact a pest control company right away to get the problem under control.