How to Spot Mouse Activity
It’s important to control all types of pests, particularly in a food handling environment where the presence of pests could have a serious impact on food safety. It is also illegal to sell food contaminated by pests, their droppings, or by food poisoning organisms they transmit.
Businesses can be prosecuted and fined, or even risk going out of business as a result of pest infestation. In this blog, we’re discussing mammal pests – specifically mice – and how to spot activity on your premises.
What are the risks?
There are many risks when it comes to rodent infestation. Mice can transmit food poisoning bacteria, damaging contaminating food ingredients and finished products simply by living or dying in them. They also leave droppings and bits of their bodies behind.
Rodents are particularly notorious for causing damage the structure of buildings, chewing holes in construction materials including plastic water pipes or electrical cables, potentially resulting in fires and floods.
How do mice get in?
Ultimately, pests are like humans – all they really need is food, water and somewhere to live. Some pests take a very direct route, coming in through open doors and windows. If the window or door isn't open then there may be small gaps around it, which some pests can use. A gap of just 6mm, the width of a pencil or biro pen, is all that a young mouse needs to squeeze through.
If they can't walk, crawl or fly in, or hitch a lift, rodents will chew their way in. The incisor teeth (the front pair) of all rodents grow throughout their lives, so they must gnaw to wear them down. They will gnaw on hard materials, whether they are food or non-food. These include plastics, timber and soft metal. That's why mice and rats damage buildings, stock and packaging.
Rodents pose the greatest risk to us and the problem can quickly grow in size. Mice are sexually mature at three months old. Pregnancy lasts about three weeks and females can become pregnant before the last litter is weaned. With up to 12 young in a litter and as many as ten litters per year, premises can soon become overrun.
What signs should I look out for?
The clearest indication of mouse activity is a clear sighting. You may see them running around, particularly at night. But it’s most likely you’ll spot the other signs – some obvious and others harder to notice.
The obvious signs include droppings, runs and smears, and gnawing.
Mouse droppings are about 2-5mm long and usually high in volume, so it’s fairly easy to tell when there is a problem. Mice repeatedly moving along the same routes and the oily coating on their fur builds up on these routes to form a smear, usually where mice are following the mortar joints on a block wall. The signs of gnawing and damage it can cause are often unmistakable, leaving behind clear evidence.
The less obvious signs include burrows, nests, and tracks and runs.
Rodents love to tunnel into soft ground. A rat burrow is usually about 10cm in diameter, whereas a mouse burrow is about 1 or 2cm – and they will nest just about anywhere, using just about any material. Spotting tracks and runs can be harder – but you will be able to see footprints and tail swipes in soft materials like mud, sand and dust (E.g. flour).
What should I do if I notice mouse activity?
The best approach to pest control is risk management and focus on the prevention of pests, rather than waiting for a problem to arise. Pest Pulse’s technology-driven pest control completely mitigates the risk of infestation by alerting expert technicians to the presence of pests at the earliest sign of activity, enabling action to be taken before an infestation occurs and real-time monitoring of premises via cloud-based software.
Where a pest problem is missed or ignored, it won’t be long before serious damage is caused to physical infrastructure, and potentially to the health and wellbeing of employees and customers. That’s why it is vital to stay vigilant, always look for signs of mouse activity, and report any problem immediately.