How To Keep Mice Out Of Your Garage & Basement

Happy New Year, friends! We hope this post finds you healthy and of course pest-free. Last year was a crazy one and while we don’t know for certain what to expect in the days and months to come, what the local pest control pros here at Arrow know is that mice are on the move and making their way into garages and basements in Essex, Hudson, and Morris counties as well as counties throughout New Jersey

house mice in their nest inside a new jersey garage

Why do mice choose to nest in garages and basements? 

Unfortunately, mice choose to nest in garages and basements because they’re fairly easy to access and provide the warmth and shelter they need to survive winter in the Garden State. Garage doors not properly sealed and cracks in the foundation are two easy methods of entry these rodents use to infiltrate garages and basements.  Once inside, they’ll gather nesting material from cardboard boxes, papers, debris, and other materials that collect in these storage areas. They’ll stick around if the conditions are warm and if they can find suitable hiding places (i.e. among the clutter that most garages and/or basements hold). What’s more, garages and basements either contain food or allow mice to nest in close proximity to food. Birdseed and pet food stored in the garage are a score for hungry mice and these foraging pests aren’t shy about sneaking into kitchens during the nocturnal hours.

6 signs of a mouse infestation

Though mice are curious critters, they often avoid detection because they are mainly active at night. If you’re concerned that your garage, basement, or home have been infested by mice but you’re not sure, look for these signs of a mouse problem:

Mouse Pathways
Mice have a tendency to keep to the sides of rooms and travel along walls from their nesting sites to their food source(s). They use these pathways (also known as runways) repeatedly so over time, you may see rub marks, prints, and droppings. In garages and basements in particular, it may be easy to see these pathways as dust, dirt and other debris are more likely to accumulate in the corners and along the edges of the rooms. 

Mouse Droppings
One of the easiest ways to know for sure if mice are present is the identification of their droppings and feces. Mouse poop looks similar to grains of rice, in both shape and size (approximately ¼ of an inch in length). And like rice, mouse feces have pointed ends. Along with the droppings, you’ll probably find patches of urine. Depending on the size of the infestation and your nose sensitivity level, you may notice that mouse pee gives off an ammonia-like smell. 

Gnaw Marks
Mice are equipped with incisors that never stop growing. In order to keep them at a manageable level, mice must constantly chew. That is why it is common to find gnaw marks on plastic containers, cardboard boxes, and other materials and even furniture stored in garages and basements. Drywall and insulation are also frequently chewed by these destructive pests.

Scratching & Strange Noises
Confirming a mouse infestation may include the use of all your senses. While eyes are used to see live mice, their droppings, damage they cause, and paths they travel, you should employ your ears in the uncovering of mice inside. As they are critters that steal around in the night, it is very common to hear scratching and other strange noises coming from the ceiling or the walls. Walls and ceiling voids sometimes act as superhighways for mice as they forage for food. They’ll also build their nests behind and above the drywall and the noises that stem from that activity may rouse you from your rest. 

Foul Odor
A mouse infestation may lead to foul odors whose origins cannot be identified or located. There are a couple of explanations for the odiferous offense to your nostrils. One, there could be dead mice collecting in your walls or other areas not visible giving off a horrible stench. Two, mice produce a lot of waste. In a situation where the infestation is larger, there will likely be a distinctive musky smell and/or ammonia-like smell. 

Pets Are Acting Strange
Many mouse infestations have first been identified by the four-legged members of families. That’s because cats and dogs have a much better sense of smell and are likely to pick up on odors that we cannot. If your pet has started paying extra close attention to one area, don’t be surprised if you find other signs of mice nearby. 

Difference between mice and rats

While we’ve been focusing on mice in this blog post, we should mention another common type of rodent in New Jersey and that would be the rat. While very similar in appearance and M.O., there are noticeable differences between the two which may help you determine if the rodents in your garage or basement are in fact mice or if they are nasty rats. 

  • Mouse droppings, as we mentioned earlier are about a quarter of an inch in length and shaped like rice with pointed ends. Rat droppings, on the other hand, are a bit bigger and have blunt ends. 
  • Though smaller in stature, mice are bolder than rats and more likely to venture out of their safe spaces in order to investigate. 
  • Mice typically will travel up to 50 feet from their nests in order to find food and water while Norway rats(the most common house-infesting rat in NJ) will forage up to five times that distance.

Click here to read one of our blog posts about the differences between mice and rats

What can I do to keep mice away from my garage and prevent mice from getting into my basement?

 In order to keep mice out of your garage, basement, or other areas of your home, you must make sure every gap, hole, and crack is sealed, patched, or fixed. Let’s start this discussion by focusing on the garage door. Can you see daylight coming through the bottom? If yes, mice can certainly slip under. Try installing weather stripping that mice teeth cannot penetrate. You may also add a garage door threshold or seal to prevent entry. Check your local hardware store for these products. 

  • Holes where plumbing and other utilities enter the structure are also potential entry points for mice and other rodents. Replace or repair seals to deter mice from entering this way.
  • A crack in the garage foundation, albeit small, may be an avenue of accessibility for mice and that’s why it’s critical to patch or seal all cracks. 
  • If you have a dryer you must have a way for the dryer to vent outside. Unfortunately, it may allow mice in. To stop mice from entering via the dryer vent, we recommend installing an external vent guard.
  • Trees and shrubs act as bridges to houses. Trimming them back so that they don’t touch the structure and creating a crushed rock perimeter around the entire house will help in your efforts to discourage rodent activity.

Finally, we highly encourage homeowners to organize, clean, and sanitize their garages and basements as well as other storage areas, kitchens, and really their entire homes. It may seem like a lot of work but it’s worth it. Trust us!

How to get rid of mice that are already present 

If it’s too late and you have already found live mice or evidence of them in your home, contact Arrow Pest Control for help right away! Providing expert rodent control in Chatham, Millstone, and Maplewood as well as communities throughout our multi-county service area, the Arrow team has the tools, knowledge and experience to exterminate mice that have infested your garage, basement, or the rest of your house. Our thorough process starts with an intense inspection to determine if mice are present, the severity of the infestation, how they’re getting in, and what’s attracting them.

Once we’ve assessed the situation, we’ll develop and implement a plan of action that includes the use of rodent exclusion tactics, installation of traps and other population control measures, rodent monitoring, and more!

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