Living in the countryside has its benefits, but mice surly isn’t one of them. To make matters worse, you’re likely dealing with a field mouse and not a house mouse if you live in a rural area. While both species have similar behaviors and characteristics, there are differences in their appearances and taste in food.
Knowing the enemy is key if you want to stop the infestation. Let’s get to know the field mouse – and some effective ways to get rid of them.
Table of Contents
- What Does a Field Mouse Look Like?
- Field Mice FAQs
- What Do Field Mice Eat?
- The Difference between Field Mice and Field Rats
- How to Get Rid Of Field Mice?
What Does a Field Mouse Look Like?
Field mouse is just another nickname for the deer mouse, or Peromyscus Maniculatus. These critters have a golden brown or reddish brown coat with white feet and chest.
The tail is bi-colored and long with the field mouse vs house mouse, with a tail length of 2.5” on average. Field mice weigh around 1/2 to 1 ounce, and have a small body and head. They’re a bit smaller than the average house mouse, and have big, protruding eyes.
Their ears are sparsely furred, and most span four inches in length.
Field Mice Facts
- Breeding Season: Year-round when indoors; Spring and fall when outdoors.
- Reproduction: 2-4 litters of 4 pups per year with a 20-day gestation period.
- Habitat: Southeastern United States in rural areas.
- Nests: No more than 30 feet from food source.
- Feeding: Nocturnal creatures; feeding 30 minutes after sunset and just before sunrise.
- Droppings: 1/4” in length; dark in color; pointed ends.
Because they’re rarely found in urban areas and typically try to avoid people, you may not see field mice in your house until the infestation has progressed.
Field Mice FAQs
Are Field Mice Protected?
Field mice are cute, but just because they’re cute doesn’t mean that they’re protected. The field mouse, also called the wood mouse, is the most common species of mouse in the United Kingdom.
And due to their large numbers, they are not protected.
Are Field Mice Dangerous?
Field mice are not any more dangerous than any other mouse. When you’re dealing with pests, you have to look at the species as a whole. Mice are responsible for the plague and the spread of many disease.
All mice have a potential to carry bacteria or viruses.
The viruses that mice can carry, include:
- Leptospirosis. A bacterial disease that is transmitted through urine and can be contracted by humans by simply having contact with urine.
- Hantavirus. A respiratory disease that is also passed on to humans through droppings or urine. Bites can also pass on the virus through bites.
- Hemorrhagic fever. A viral disease that comes from exposure with mouse urine or droppings.
If you’re dealing with mice, you should wear gloves when handling the mouse or coming in contact with their droppings or urine. The good news is that while any mouse can be dangerous, it’s very rare that they will transmit disease.
Can Field Mice Climb?
Yes. Field mice, like most mice, are able to climbs and even go up brick walls. You’ll find that these mice can climb on vegetation, too, including vines and trees. Keeping field mice away means sealing up holes or cracks, even small ones, where the mice can enter the room.
While looking for these smalls holes or cracks, make sure to look up high, too.
Cracks or spaces near windows or near the roof may be where these field mice are entering. Since these mice are good climbers, it’s even more important to inspect your attic for any mice.
How Long Do Field Mice Live?
Wild mice have a much harder time surviving than a pet mouse. A lot of people have pet mice that live to be six years old before they die, but the average house mice will die much earlier.
Field mice live, in most cases, from 1 to 2.5 years before they die, but this will vary greatly depending on the amount of food and shelter they have available.
Life is hard for these mice, and with many humans trapping and killing them, they have a much lower lifespan than pet mice.
What Do Field Mice Eat?
You know what a field mouse looks like, where they live and how often they reproduce, but you’re missing one key important piece of information: what they eat.
If you know what field mice like to eat, you can eliminate the food source from your home and use it as a way to lure the rodent into a trap.
What do field mice like to eat? Field mice are omnivorous, so this list is not exhaustive by any means:
- Small fruits
- Underground fungus
Because field mice love seeds, berries and fruits, they can be a nuisance to farmers. It’s not uncommon for them to infiltrate food storage facilities, which can lead to costly damage.
If you have field mice in your home, they’re probably after your tasty supply of seeds or grains. But they may also be after any insects in your home. In fact, these rodents prefer to chow down on bugs and other insects, so a field mice invasion may also be a sign that you have an insect problem, too.
The Difference between Field Mice and Field Rats
While you may know what field mice look like, it can still be difficult to determine whether you’re dealing with a mouse or a rat. Oftentimes, they leave similar droppings, and if you happen to catch a glimpse of these elusive creatures, it may be hard to accurately judge its size.
Rats are generally bigger than mice. They’re medium or large in size with longer tails that are scaly and hairless. They also tend to have different color coats that are gray, white, black or brown. The size, weight and tail appearance are the three major differences between rats and mice.
Field mice also have bi-colored tails, which is something that rats do not have.
If you have yet to actually see the rodents invading your home, it can be a challenge to determine which type you’re dealing with. Pay attention to areas where there’s evidence of damage and a higher concentration of droppings.
FYI: rat droppings are double the size of mouse droppings. The average mouse dropping is 1/4” in length, while rat droppings are about 1/2” in length.
Like mice, rats like to eat berries and seeds, but they also have a taste for meat, eggs and vegetables. If someone is munching on vegetables or fruit on your counters, there’s a good chance you may be dealing with a rat and not a mouse.
How to Get Rid Of Field Mice?
You now know for sure that you’re dealing with field mice. What’s the next step? How do you get rid of them?
1. Set a Trap
Traps are one of the most effective ways to get rid of all types of mice. There are several types of traps available, including:
- Snap Trap: These are the traps most people are familiar with. The bait sits on a pressure switch, and when the mouse steps on the switch to take the bait, it triggers the kill bar, which snaps in the opposite direction to contact the mouse’s neck. If properly set, a snap trap kills mice instantly.
- Electronic Trap: These traps are easy to set, and kill mice through electrocution. Once the mouse enters the trap to take the bait, the device sends an electric shock that kills the mouse in seconds.
- Live Trap: A live trap catches the mouse, but doesn’t actually kill it. The mouse is lured in by the bait, and once it’s inside the cage, it triggers the closing of the front door. The mouse is locked inside, but isn’t killed. While this is a humane way to get rid of mice, it’s important to check on these traps frequently, so the mice don’t die of starvation or dehydration. Also, it’s important to release the mice at least three miles away from your home to prevent them from coming back.
2. Hire an Exterminator
If you have a serious infestation or you just can’t get a hold on your mouse problem, you may need to call in an exterminator.
Exterminators are trained professionals with the tools and knowledge to pinpoint where the mice are coming from, and take steps to remove the nest or eliminate the mice.
An exterminator should:
- Conduct an initial evaluation to ensure that the mouse you’re dealing with is a field mouse. This will be done to ensure that all proper measures are taken to get rid of the mouse.
- Use poison or traps to be able to keep the mouse population under control. This will involve a follow-up visit that will also check to make sure that the infestation has been cleared properly. Additional traps or poison may be placed.
- Removal of all dead mice. The removal process is very important because the exterminator will know what equipment to wear to keep viruses and bacteria away from humans. If you’re worried about the spread of viruses or disease, proper removal is key.
- Recommend repairs that should be made. Mice have to enter the home, and if the home was properly sealed, the mouse would not be able to enter. These can be small holes or cracks in foundation, near doors, windows or even the roof.
3. Seal Up Entryways
Once you’ve eliminated all of the mice in your home, it’s time to seal up any and all possible entryways to prevent a new infestation.
Seal up any holes, cracks or gaps you can find both inside and outside your home. Mice can fit through a crack as small as 1/4”, so it’s important to seal even the tiniest of openings.
While tedious, sealing up these entryways is worth the effort as it will also prevent other critters and insects from getting into your home.
Sealing up entryways is the only way to keep mice away for good. You can do this in two very easy steps:
Step 1: Inspection
You can conduct your own inspection of the house, and this should be done immediately when you find mice. You’ll want to know where mice are entering before being able to stop them.
Mice enter the home in a few key areas:
- Gaps between windows
- Gaps between doors
- Cracks in cabinets or closets
- Drainage pipes
- Gaps in ceilings or walls
- Holes of any kind, especially in windows
Mice are able to fit through exceptionally small holes and cracks, so you need to account for everything from missing caulk to a very small hole near the doorway.
Step 2: Seal the Home
The entire home needs to be sealed. If mice have an easy entry, they will continue coming into the home. You can use as much mice poison or traps as you want – there’s no substitute for sealing a home.
And the Center for Disease Control recommends that you do the following:
- Use steel wool to fill in any holes you’re dealing with
- Use caulk to seal the area around these holes
But these are just small holes that can be filled this way. If the holes are larger, you’ll want to take other measures to seal off the holes, which may include cement, metal, wood or even sheet metal.
If a repair is too much for you to handle on your own, YouTube is sure to have a video on how to fix the hole. A professional repairman will also be able to help you. Keep in mind that the holes need to be fixed with the utmost precision.
The next step in the process should be to place traps and any poisons that you have to kill the mice in your home. Mice are very resilient, and placing traps and poisons will be the only option after the home is sealed.
Afterwards, you’ll need to discard of any of the dead mice you find. Keep in mind that these dead bodies will also be able to carry disease and parasites. Handle all of the dead mice carefully and discard of them properly – away from animals which may eat the mice and poison.
Field mice are pests, but like with any mouse, using the proper traps, seals and poisons can help you get rid of field mice once and for all. You need to follow a combination of tactics to keep mice away for good.
If you’ve placed trapped and sealed off all entryways on your own and mice are still in your home, it may be time to call a professional exterminator.