No. Mice can’t hibernate or reduce their caloric or body temperature needs in any way. The only way mice can survive freezing temperatures is by taking shelter in a warm place where they can find food. They’ll start looking for overwintering sites as soon as temperatures start falling in autumn.
The fact that mice can’t hibernate actually dictates their behavior all year. Mice are always preparing their nests for winter. Unfortunately, that means they also never stop trying to sneak into good nesting sites… including your home! Mice try to nest in places where they can access everything they need to survive winter. Here’s how you to tell if mice are choosing your home as their winter nesting site, and what to do if they are:
How can I tell if mice are nesting in my home?
Mice are small and very sneaky, so it can be surprisingly difficult to tell if they’re infesting your home. Even the sneakiest mouse leaves behind telltale signs of their presence if you know where to look, however. If you suspect you have a mouse problem, look for the following signs:
- Food contamination. Mice often sneak into pantries to feed on dry goods like grains, nuts, and candy. Look for gnawed or soiled food or damaged packaging material.
- Damage to home goods. Mice will gnaw on just about anything soft enough to not to hurt their teeth. Look for bite marks and damage to books, furniture, electrical wiring, and other “soft” home decor.
- Droppings. Mice droppings are very small, dry, brown, and cone-shaped. Mice tend to distribute their droppings in dark corners and runways.
- Runways. Mice have poor eyesight and tend to rely on a few reliable pathways through a home. Over time, the grime on mice bodies creates a greasy residue or stain on the walls near these pathways.
- Trash accumulation. Mice build their nests out of collected scraps of paper, cloth, insulation, and other trash. You might find these messy nests in dark corners and beneath furniture.
- Odors. Unsurprisingly, mouse droppings and urine smell. The longer and more extensive the infestation, the worse the smell. If you smell musty, unpleasant odors in your basement, you may have a mouse infestation.
Why did mice choose to nest in my home?
Mice choose where to nest based on where they can most reliably get the things they need to live. If you have mice nesting in your home, it’s because your home is a source of each of the following needs:
- Warmth: First and foremost, mice need to stay warm to survive the winter. They will follow air drafts into your home and hunker down in warm, dark places.
- Food: Mice need to eat continuously to stay healthy, even during winter. They need a constant source of food and they’re able to smell if your home can provide it.
- Water: Mice don’t need a lot of water, but they drink it constantly. They’ll find plumbing leaks, runoff, or even just condensation in any secluded area.
- Shelter: Mice are shy creatures—they have to be! They’re attracted to dark, cluttered, secluded areas where they won’t be bothered… by predators or by you!
How to keep mice from nesting in your home
Mice don’t need much to get inside your home; they can squeeze through any opening the width of a pencil or wider. The best way to keep mice out is to find and cut off any of these openings. Mice usually find their access points around the following places:
- Door and window frames: Mice frequently sense drafts coming through small gaps between doors and windows and their frames. Reseal and weatherproof your frames seasonally.
- Utility lines: Mice may sneak through small gaps between utility lines like plumbing pipes and power lines in your home’s walls. Seal these openings with caulk.
- Gaps in baseboarding and foundation: Even the tiny cracks and gaps that develop at the bottom of walls and flooring may make for sustainable entry points for mice. Seal up cracks and gaps with caulk or steel wool.
- Vents, chimneys, and shingles: Mice often climb up downspouts and gutters to access openings on your roof. Fix broken roofing shingles and install grates to keep mice from getting through vents and chimneys.
Unfortunately, the fact that mice can’t hibernate isn’t just relevant in winter. It means you have to watch out for them all year long. Once mice establish themselves in your home, they won’t leave even after it warms up outside. The sooner you can find and kick mice out, the better.
If you think you have mice nesting in your home, contact the experts at Plunkett’s for rodent control right away. We can remove your current infestation and keep mice from getting back in again.