If you live in a rural area, then you already know that mice tend to seek shelter inside your home when the cold weather arrives in the fall. These critters crawl into your home through cracks and crevices and set up housekeeping in your walls, crawl spaces, and attic to avoid cold weather and to find a steady food source. Unfortunately, they are nasty and can spread a host of germs, and they can even chew wires, clothing, and paper products, leaving behind a stinky mess that can pose a danger to your health and safety. Getting rid of them once they have settled in can be difficult. The best cure for mice problems is prevention. Follow these tips for mouse-proofing your home.

Seal Cracks and Crevices

Mice can squeeze through holes as small as ¼-inch in diameter, or about the size of a pencil. Some people believe that mice collapse their rib cages in order to squeeze through a tiny hole, but this isn't true. According to Joan Morris, a pets and wildlife columnist, mice have slender, cylindrical bodies that can fit through any hole their head can fit through. That means that to keep mice out of your home, you will need to seal any cracks that are larger than the diameter of a pen or pencil. Check these common sites where mice can gain access to your home:

  • Doors and Windows. Check that all doors and windows close securely so that there are no gaps to allow mice to wiggle their way into your home. Replace weather stripping and any broken or cracked window panes.
  • Foundations. Walk around your home and inspect the foundation for possible entry points for mice. Fill cracks or crevices with mesh or foam insulation.
  • Utility Lines. Mice often enter the home around wires, pipes, or vents. Check and seal the area around any wire or vent. This includes the point where cable or telephone wires enter the home, dryer vents, and outside plumbing fixtures, such as the pipe to your outdoor spigot or to a garden fountain.
  • Roofs and Eaves. Mice are prolific climbers and can scurry up the sides of buildings or access the eaves and roof via nearby trees and shrubs. Seal any entry points around chimneys, exhaust pipes, and open spaces in the eaves of your home. Check around exhaust fans or attic fans, too.

Cut Off the Food Supply

Mice need an ample supply of food to feed their growing colony of mice. Cutting off the food supply will deter them from setting up camp in your home for the winter.

  • Food Storage. Store your food in sealed containers. Paper or plastic bags filled with grains and nuts are an open invitation for mice, but mice aren't picky about what they eat. Mice will happily eat cereals, breads, sweets, and fatty foods too.
  • Countertops and Floors. Crumbs left behind on the countertop and floor also attract mice. Keep the kitchen (and other rooms where people dine or snack) clean and free of food crumbs.
  • Toasters and Appliances. Some appliances, like the microwave, range, and toaster also leave behind bits of food when they are used. Clean them regularly and empty the crumb tray on the toaster to deter hungry mice.
  • Birdseed or Pet Food. Store all pet food and birdseed in sealed containers.

Get a Cat

It's no secret that cats are a great defense against mice. A good mouser will nab any mouse that manages to get inside despite your efforts to mouse-proof your home. They may also deter future mice from entering the home, especially if an escapee spreads the word that your house has an attack cat.

Being proactive and protecting your home from mice will save you headaches in the winter and may prevent health and safety issues, too. For professional assistance with getting rid of mice in your home, contact a company like Universal Pest & Termite, Inc.