The house mouse is generally dusty grey with a lighter coloured underside. The head and body of a mouse measures between 60mm and 9mm, with the tail measuring as much again.

Adult mice can be confused with juvenile rats, but there are two main features which distinguish between them. A juvenile rat has large feet and a large head relative to its size; an adult mouse has smaller feet and a smaller head.

Mice breed rapidly and under optimum conditions a female can have a litter of around 6 every 40 to 50 days. The potential to cause problems is therefore vast.

Signs of infestation

The most obvious indicators of a mouse infestation are:

  • Droppings - Mice are virtually incontinent and produce between 80 and 120 droppings per day, depending on their diet. Droppings will be found scattered wherever mice have been. The droppings are usually black, spindle shaped and measure around 6mm in length.
  • Damage - mice gnaw simply to keep their teeth in good condition, therefore look for signs of teeth marks. Also look for any holes in the skirting boards and floorboards, especially where pipes enter as mice often move around in ceiling voids and cavity walls.

How to treat

One of the simplest ways to get rid of mice is with traps. The most common of these is the break back trap. There are also "live traps" that will trap a mouse without killing it. If you use one of these, you should release the mouse a considerable distance from your house. If you don't, it could find its way back in again.

Another common method of controlling mice is with poison. A variety of mouse baits is on sale to the public, but they can be expensive and you may well not rid your home of mice.

Warning: Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.

If you choose to purchase poison or traps from any hardware store, you must follow the instructions carefully.

Preventative measures

To prevent the entry of mice into the home, there are simple steps you can take:

  • Ensure the gap beneath the external door is less than 6mm. A rough guide is if you can get a pencil under a door, then a mouse can enter. You can fit draught excluder strips made of bristle to prevent this.
  • Block off any holes in the building fabric, paying particular attention to where pipes enter.
  • If you have creepers growing up the outside of the house, be aware that mice can use these to climb to roof level.