We all like to think of mice as little furry animals that we would rather keep out of our homes and places of business….but not exactly dangerous critters. There are a few white pet mice about, but generally they are an animal that it is better to keep out of your home.

On a recent remodeling project my Site Superintendent, Arland Schwake, found a dead mouse enclosed within a frame wall. That is not highly unusual….we run into them from time to time. This particular mouse was electrocuted and mummified after chewing through two electrical wires.

As you can see from the photograph, the moisture in the mouse body conducted electricity between the wires. This burned the mouse and the area around the mouse. If you look closely you can see fire smudge marks around the mouse and wiring. Under the right conditions this mouse could have started the house on fire.

Mice have also been known to start fires using the old “strike anywhere” matches. A mouse can pick up one of these wooden matches and go scurrying away, carrying it so that the match head projects to the side. If the mouse happens to brush it against a rough surface the match can burst into flames. I have also heard that a mouse can chew on the match head, creating enough friction to ignite the match. In either of these cases you can see how a building could catch fire from mouse activities.

If mice are known to be in a home or building it is best to trap them using one of the many types of mouse traps available. I don’t like to see people using mouse poison to control mice. Children and pets can get into poison while it is unattended. In addition, when a mouse eats poison it usually crawls back into a concealed space and dies. The decaying mouse causes unpleasant odors. It’s much better to trap mice and dispose of them out of your home.

As the weather starts to cool off in the fall mice start looking for warmer places to winter. Homes and buildings provide these warm environments for mice. They can enter a home through very small openings….about the size of a large bean. Caulking and sealing up exterior cracks around your home is wise at this time of year, both to keep mice out of your home and to control energy costs.

Walt Disney may have built a whole empire based on a mouse, but all of us are much better off if we keep mice out of our homes and buildings.