Best ways to mouse-proof your home

As a mouse plague sweeps parts of Australia, here’s how to keep your house free of these small vermin.

Imagine going away for a weekend and returning home to find your house overrun with mice.

That was the situation faced by a NSW farmer at the height of the mouse plague earlier this year.

In the space of eight hours, he removed 400 mice from his property.

“That won’t be happening in the cities and suburbs, but mouse numbers (are) higher than normal,” CSIRO mouse researcher Steve Henry says.

What causes a mouse plague?

Australia endures a mouse plague about once a decade, particularly when there has been a mild, damp summer.

This is perfect breeding weather for mice, who can have a litter of six to 10 babies every 19 to 21 days. They start breeding from six weeks old.

“When it gets really hot, breeding slows down, but when the summer is mild, breeding continues and more young mice survive and go on to breed themselves,” Steve says.

“Moist weather also sees more food available for mice – particularly crops.”

The current mouse plague impacts areas from Dubbo in central NSW into southern Queensland and areas of northern Victoria across to the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia.

“The cities and suburbs won’t experience plague proportions as there is not enough food to support those numbers,” Steve says.

“But people will see more mice as they come inside to get out of the cold.”

The good news is as quickly as mice numbers increase, they drop dramatically.

“When mouse numbers get high and they interact with each other, it spreads disease and they also start to run out of food,” Steve says.

“Then they turn on each other and eat the sick and weak and the baby mice. This brings a population crash.”

How to mouse-proof your home

According to SA Health, there are several things you can do to prevent mice in your house:

Mind the gaps

Mice can squeeze into gaps as tiny as 8mm and will nest in walls, ceilings, under floors, behind cupboards and furniture, in wood piles, thick vegetation, rubbish piles and animal enclosures.

Fill holes in your home with concrete, hard-setting filler or steel wool.

Spot the signs

Signs of mice include:

  • Black droppings along walls, in cupboards or under sinks
  • Gnawing on wood, insulation or electrical cables, fruits and vegetables.

Keep things clean and tidy

Get rid of food scraps and keep food preparation areas clean.

Keep lids tightly fitted on rubbish bins.

Tidy up outside

Stack wood and bricks at least 30cm off the ground so mice can’t nest there.

Cut back grass, trees, bushes and creepers around your home.

Get rid of waste from animal enclosures and store pet food in containers with closed lids.

Use mouse traps

Use several traps at once but don’t set them near areas where you prepare or eat food.

Set traps with bacon, peanut butter, fish, meat, bread or chocolate.

Once you trap and remove a mouse, spray the area with an insecticidal spray.

Written by Sarah Marinos.