Lincoln — With the weather getting colder, now is the time homeowners might find a few unexpected house guests.
Stephen Vantassel, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln program coordinator for the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, said this is a common time to see mice take up residence indoors.
The main reason that mice come into homes this time of year is to get warm, Vantassel said.
"Small animals spend a lot of energy trying to keep themselves warm," he said. "They are desperately looking for a warmer place to reduce their caloric needs."
All mice need to enter a home is a hole that measures three-eighths of an inch or larger. It is important to inspect the house for these openings and seal them, Vantassel said.
Mice can climb, so be sure to inspect the entire house, not just the foundation.
"Establish weed-free zones around the foundation," he said. Bird feeders should be monitored so that food does not spill out of them and attract mice.
Vantassel said there are ways to tell if mice are in your home before seeing them. Mice live in the walls of homes and people might be able to hear their vocalizations or may notice pets scratching at the walls before they actually see a mouse in person.
"If you are seeing a mouse in the living space running across the floor in the kitchen, chances are you've had mice for a while because mice will live in the walls long before they are exploring beyond them," he said.
To get rid of mice, Vantassel recommends setting at least a dozen traps, a higher number than most people would think to set.
"You want to make sure you are controlling them quickly and aggressively," he said.
For more information on how to control mice, visit the UNL Extension NebGuide "Controlling House Mice" available from a local extension office or online at: http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/sendIt/g1105.pdf.