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field mouse in winter

The most famous (or infamous) mouse in the US is, of course, the house mouse. Every year, millions of these tiny terrors infiltrate homes all over the country. They’re not the only mice out there, however, and they’re also not the only mice pests. There are also field mice. The name “field mouse” often refers to a variety of different species, including deer mice and brown mice. As a general rule, field mice are smaller than house mice, and they’re brown or tan instead of grey. These mice spend most of their lives outside--until winter, that is. Like house mice, field mice can’t hibernate. Instead, they have to get creative to survive winter. Here are a couple ways they do that:


Deer mice frequently live and nest in burrows all year. These burrows are very simple, usually with one entrance and only enough space for a single mouse. They frequently dig these burrows under or into existing structures such as tree stumps or rocks. Mice can’t dig through frozen ground, but they can continue to use burrows they already made. A deep enough burrow may provide enough warmth and cover to allow the field mouse to survive freezing temperatures. Burrowing field mice can be a problem for you when they inadvertently dig into your home. This happens more than you might expect. Mice already tend to dig near or under existing structures like your deck or porch. While they’re burrowing, they may find a crack in the foundation, baseboard, or a frame. If they do, they’ll follow the heat source straight into your home. Some field mice may also chew through insulation in order to get inside. field mouse nest


Like house mice and rats, field mice tend to construct small nests out of a wide variety of materials. Field mouse nests are usually cup-shaped, and made out of pretty much any soft material they can locate nearby. Usually, these nests end up looking like clumps of grass, paper, fabric, insulation, and dust. Field mice use their nests for cover, shelter, and for a place to raise their young. In winter, many field mice also build out their nests to provide extra warmth. Field mice often try to build their nests in warm areas. They’ll fill out a nest in a burrow, in an existing structure… or in your home. In fact, the search for nesting materials may bring field mice closer to your home. They’ll pull loose insulation or fabric materials away from vulnerable areas of your home. If, while they’re scavenging materials, they happen to find a way in, they’ll take it!


Brown mice, in particular, are highly adept climbers. They often actually live in tree hollows during most of the year, like squirrels! Brown mice use their climbing ability to enter warm areas most animals may not be able to access. They’ll climb up trees to find hollows or even enter roofs, attics, or vent systems. During winter, brown mice may climb structures to avoid snow or locate heat sources. Sometimes, brown mice even leap between high structures to access warm areas. Brown mice and other field mice may find ways to climb on your home to access heat this winter. They could clamber up drain pipes, downspouts, vines, or even along ragged siding. Upon accessing your roof, mice often chew or squeeze their way past shingles and into your home’s insulation. Eventually, they could end up nesting in your attic. Many mice may also chew through vent screens so they can enter warm exhaust vents. Field Mouse Sneaking Inside

Sneak Inside

Yes, unfortunately, house mice aren’t the only mice that want to use your home for a winter getaway. While field mice infestations are slightly rarer than house mice infestations, they still happen very frequently--especially in winter. Usually, field mice infestations occur when the mice are trying one of the other three survival techniques listed here. Field mice infestations are especially common in rural or wooded areas. These mice frequently infest sheds, detached out-buildings, or barns first, then move into your home. Though they may enter in different places, field mice get into homes the same way house mice do. Either they find tiny gaps and holes to squeeze through, or they chew their way through vulnerable material. Field mice infestations usually start in your basement, crawl space, or attic. To stop them mice from getting in, patch up gaps in your walls, especially around utility lines and sills. Pay special attention to your dry food, and make sure it’s secured in airtight hard plastic containers. ‌ Field mice are certainly different from house mice, but their similarities outweigh their differences. They both eat dry food, squeeze through small openings, and want to get into your home. Now that you understand what field mice want, you’re ready to make sure they don’t get it for you. If you need up with any kind of mouse infestation in your home, give Plunkett’s a call any time. Whether they’re house mice, field mice, or something else entirely, we’ll drive them out for good.