If you feel like you have signs of mice living in your home, you may be wondering whether you can handle the rodent problem yourself or whether you should hire an exterminator to solve it for you. How can you know when to call an exterminator for mice? Not all rodent infestations are created equal, and you may be able to get rid of your mouse infestation using some DIY methods we will discuss below. If your infestation is severe enough, these DIY methods may not be one hundred percent effective, and it’s time to call in a professional exterminator or a pest control company.

    3 Signs of a Severe Mouse Infestation

    What are the signs of a mouse infestation? How can you be sure that these little pests are the unwanted visitors invading your home? First, you should differentiate between potential pests that are inhabiting your home. Three common pests that plague homeowners are rats, mice, and termites. You may notice similar noises in the wall for all three, but one way you can be sure that it is indeed mice is to identify them by appearance and droppings.

    First, let’s talk about appearance. Rats are larger than mice. A young Norway rat can resemble an adult house mouse, but you have to pay attention to the ears. Mice have ears that are large, round, and look much bigger in comparison to their bodies than rats’ ears. Mice have long tails that are thin and covered with hair — rats’ tails are thick and hairless. And lastly, mice have triangular snouts, meaning they’re much pointier than rats’ snouts. Rats’ noses end in a blunter nose than those pointy little mouse noses.


    Mouse droppings are black in color, and they are about the size of a single grain of rice. This is not surprising, considering that house mice only reach a size of about five to eight inches long, and that includes the length of the tail. However, despite their minuscule size, where there is one mouse, there are many more, and each mouse produces four to nine dozen droppings daily. Droppings are likely the first tell-tale sign you’ll observe if you have a rodent problem.

    It’s essential that as soon as you notice these little black remnants of mouse activity you call an exterminator or a pest control expert as soon as possible. The reason why is because rodents can carry hantavirus which is transmitted through their feces or urine. Humans can contract hantavirus by breathing in dust from rodent urine and feces that are stirred up into the air. This is why you should never sweep up rodent droppings — you first need to use a bleach solution and then remove the damp remains with paper towels, and don’t forget your gloves and face mask.

    Scratching Sounds

    When a number of mice inhabit your home, their favorite places to hang out are in your ceiling, walls, and attic. This is where mice nest, mostly because their favorite nesting materials are insulation and anything else that’s soft and cozy. Once you get a family of mice living in your home, you will most likely hear scrabbling in the walls, soft scratching in the walls and ceiling, and even sometimes squeaking.

    This might not seem like as big of a deal as discovering mouse droppings, but mice can damage the electrical wiring in your walls, chew holes in baseboards, and contaminate food in your kitchen and pantry. This is not only bad for your home — it is costly to fix and it’s dangerous for your family to deal with this mouse problem up close and personal.

    Damaged Food Packaging

    This brings us to another one of the signs of an infestation — damaged food packaging. When mice get into food containers or packages, there are uneven holes and edges around those holes in the packaging. Since mice defecate so many times per day, you’re likely to see droppings in and around those food packages as well.

    If you see any of these signs of mice invading your pantry or anywhere in your kitchen or where you store food, call an exterminator right away. Mice are vectors for respiratory illnesses, and they can bring fleas into your home.

    3 DIY Mouse Removal Methods

    If you see any of the signs we mentioned above, especially visually encountering a mouse or mice firsthand in your home, you need to call a mice exterminator or a pest control company as soon as possible. It’s not worth the risk to you or your family to allow mice to breed and continue to make their abode in yours. However, if you think you may have a rodent control issue but you’re not sure, you can use these tricks to find out and even take preventive measures against pest problems yourself.

    Seal All Entryways

    Mice can squeeze through openings only a quarter of an inch wide, so any holes in baseboards, corners, and crevices are potential entry points for them. Check places in your home without a lot of traffic, such as the attic and the basement, and especially closets, cabinets, and storage areas for potential mouse entry points. You can caulk these closed yourself to prevent mice from entering your home in the first place.

    Another thing you can do is make sure to seal all food sources, including pet food. Make sure all potential food sources in your home are stored in the fridge or in airtight containers. Cardboard boxes and plastic bags are no problem for mice to get into, but if you make it impossible for them to find a food source, this is a great way to keep mice from setting up nests in your home.

    Set Traps

    If you have seen a mouse or if you even suspect there is one living in or around your home, you can set up different kinds of traps around your house and property. This is an excellent way to determine whether or not you even have a mouse problem. Once you set a trap, you should check it at least once a day, and keep it there for at least a week. If you don’t see any activity within one or two weeks, you can put them away and rest with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you likely don’t have a mouse infestation.

    There are several different types of traps you can set. There are snap traps, which are the traditional mouse traps most of us are familiar with. They are spring-loaded, set with a small piece of some tempting food morsel, and when the mouse approaches the morsel, the trap goes off, hopefully quickly killing the mouse. These, when used properly, dispatch mice quickly and humanely. However, if you would rather not deal so closely with dead mice, you can also purchase bait stations.

    Bait stations are small plastic boxes containing a block of bait that is laced with poison. Once the mice enter, they eat a bit of the bait, and then the poison begins to take effect. The poisoned mouse may even spread the toxic material to others in its nest, causing them all to die. With this method, you still may have to dispose of dead mice, but it’s more likely that the mice will go outside to die. You can get both kinds of traps at your local hardware store.

    Homemade Repellent

    If any of these trap methods sounds barbaric to you or you just want to prevent your home from appealing to mice in general, you can make your own repellents to place and spray around your home and in places where you suspect mice could enter your home. The first order of business is to seal up all entry points as we mentioned above, but you then can make repellent so that mice stay away.

    Mice have a very sensitive sense of smell, so there are quite a few scents that they cannot stand. You can make a spray from peppermint, clove, and cinnamon essential oils with water. It smells amazing to us, but mice absolutely hate it. They also hate chili pepper and cayenne pepper, so you can spread these around the perimeter of your home either in spray form or powdered form regularly.

    You can also place fresh dryer sheets in cabinets and closets and any other areas you think mice may find suited to build nests. The great part about all these repellents is that they smell awesome to us!

    How Much Does It Cost to Call an Exterminator for Mice?

    Because exterminators only come once, they can cost between $300 and $500, depending on where you live and the severity of your mouse infestation. It is not unheard of for rodent extermination to cost upwards of $1000; these furry menaces can really do a number on the walls and interior of your home.

    The problem with exterminators is that they only come once, and they do not provide a satisfaction guarantee. This means that even if you see more rodent activity after their services have been performed, they are not contractually obligated to come back free of charge to eradicate the remaining culprits. If you live in an area where recurring mice infestations are a problem, you might want to consider working with a pest control company instead. For example, when you protect your property with Terminix’s monthly pest control plan, a team member will return between scheduled treatments free of charge if you notice mouse activity following your treatment.

    Today’s Homeowner Rating & Methodology

    Our research process involves a multi-step process to get real insights into the customer experience for each company. We contacted each pest control company directly and spoke to representatives via phone and online chat (if available). This allowed us better understand the company’s treatment offerings and customer service. We also consider BBB accreditation and what customer reviews say about each company. Additionally, we fact-check and update company data regularly to ensure accurate and up-to-date information. 

    We developed a 100-point rating system to compare the companies numerically. 

    • Plan options (35 points): Companies with more plans and flexibility on services to address specific issues were given a higher score. 
    • State Availability (5 points): Those that offer coverage in fewer than 45 states were deducted points for availability. 
    • Trustworthiness (10 points): This is based on whether companies have money-back guarantees, service guarantees, and additional satisfaction assurance measures.
    • Customer Service (30 points): We considered accessibility (including on weekends and holidays) of technicians and customer support. 
    • Additional Benefits (20 points): Companies that offer further conveniences such as an app, comprehensive resources, and other benefits were rated higher. 
    Editorial Contributors
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    Sarah Horvath


    Sarah Horvath is a senior-level home service review professional with more than 10 years of experience in the homeownership industry. You can find her writing on sites like Robinhood, MoneyLion, Benzinga, Forbes Advisor, and more. When she's not busy writing, Sarah enjoys spending time in her home in Orlando with her fiance and her parrot.

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    Lora Novak

    Senior Editor

    Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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