Yesterday I talked about keeping mice out and trapping…. today it is all about the how, what and why of clean up!
Each house mouse leaves us between 50 to 75 pellets (mouse droppings) per day as they explore our living spaces. Some animals leave droppings in piles, but not the mouse. Mouse droppings will be scattered as they run along places like our floors and countertops (where we prepare food!). The droppings are about the size of a grain of rice and usually look black depending on what the mouse has been eating. Mice also dribble urine (or as my mom would say “piddle”) everywhere they run!
If you don’t see droppings, you might notice other signs of a mouse infestation including gnaw marks on cardboard boxes, wood, electrical wiring and yes, even on soap. Mouse nests are made from materials the animals find around the home and located near heat sources like water heaters, ovens and your refrigerator. Anyone who has lived with a mouse knows they can also be pretty noisy. They squeak, scratch, make chewing sounds and run quickly across ceiling tiles and between the walls. If house mice have been living in an area of the home for a while, there will be a strong musky odor.
Check out “Mouse in the House? No Thanks!” There are some good tips and a short video from Dennis Ferraro, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, on excluding mice from your home and trapping mice.
In addition to contaminating surfaces, some mouse species have been associated with the Sin Nombre virus (Hantavirus Pulminary Syndrome…a deadly respiratory condition caused by the Sin Nombre virus). People are affected when they inhale virus particles left in droppings, urine and nests. Bottom line: Don’t worry right now what mouse you have to deal with – it’s important to use caution when cleaning up after any mouse – no matter what mouse species.
So let’s get started with clean-up (this information is for cleaning up small areas of the home/building):
- First, use snap-type mouse traps designed to kill mice. We don’t recommend using poison baits in the home. Snap traps also allow you to quickly locate and remove dead mice.
- If you find a mouse nest, droppings or dead rodent in a trap… put on rubber gloves for clean up. Spray the nest or dead rodent until soaked with a household disinfectant solution or three tablespoons of bleach in one gallon of water. (Note: check surfaces to make sure the bleach doesn’t ruin fabrics, carpets and more if you choose to use it). Other disinfectants can also be used as directed. Let the area soak thoroughly 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the nest or rodent using a long-handled shovel or rubber gloves.
- Double bag the rodent or nest securely with plastic bags and dispose of them in the trash. Persons in rural areas may bury the waste two to three feet deep.
- Clean up the rodent area and traps by spraying with disinfectant solution. Let the area soak for 10 to 15 minutes. While still wearing gloves, wipe up the area with paper towels or rags.
- Double bag all paper towels, rags, and gloves used in the cleanup. Dispose of them in a tightly covered trash container.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after completing the cleanup. After the rodents are removed, floors, countertops, cabinets and other surfaces should be cleaned with a solution of three tablespoons of household bleach in one gallon of water, or by a commercial disinfectant. Do not sweep floors with a broom, or vacuum, until area has been disinfected.
- Rugs can be steam cleaned; dirt floors should be sprayed with a disinfectant solution.
Clean up information source: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
Extra caution: If you are cleaning up a cabin, barn, shed or home that has been vacant and closed up a long time, open doors and windows – ventilate! Because there is always a risk, even though it is small, precautions should be taken to prevent exposure to the virus. Wearing a properly fitted respirator with a HEPA filter will provide protection by effectively filtering out the tiny virus particles which may be airborne. Paper dust masks do not provide effective protection. When dealing with rodent-infested areas, first reduce rodent populations, ventilate the area before cleaning, and then use wet cleaning techniques. If you don’t feel like you can handle clean-up safely, contact a wildlife or pest control professional for assistance.
Feeling Sick: If you feel ill or develop a fever within five days of handling mice and their droppings, seek medical attention. Let medical personnel know you were working in an area with a rodent infestation. (See Controlling House Mice – UNL Extension)
For more information on controlling mice and rats, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/rodents.shtml
Have a great day!
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UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu