Mice are unwelcome visitors in most homes, especially when they start chewing through your home to skitter inside. They can destroy your home, chewing through wiring, gas pipes, walls, and wood. On top of that, they can get into your food supplies, leaving behind droppings and a host of diseases, including hantavirus, salmonellosis, and listeria.
So, when folks see a mouse squeezing under their doors, they immediately take action. The first action might be to grab a broom in defense or jump on the counter out of the way, but the second is usually to get the mouse out of the house. So, after you boot the unwanted visitor to the curb, how do you prevent them from getting back in? Let’s find out.
Can Mice Flatten Themselves To Get Under Doors?
Mice can squeeze themselves through tiny spaces far smaller than their bodies, including doors. They can effortlessly flatten their bodies to wiggle under doors, especially those with a slightly larger gap. Doors with even smaller cracks, as little as ¼ inch (about the width of a pencil) or larger, don’t pose a problem to mice.
This ability stems from the construction of their skeletons. Unlike most mammals, mice can flex their ribs, so they’re somewhat collapsible. This enables them to flatten or constrict their bodies temporarily to shimmy through small spaces.
Adolescent mice can wiggle through tiny holes the size of a pen, while adult mice can only fit through spaces the size of a dime. Since they can squeeze through such minuscule spaces, scurrying under a door is rarely an issue.
Will Mice Chew Through Materials To Get In?
Generally speaking, mice won’t chew through a material to get into your home unless they have a reason. For example, if there’s a food source on the other side of an insulated wall or plastic barrier, they’ll happily munch through the material to access the food.
Their teeth are surprisingly strong, so they can chew through various materials without an issue. While there are certain materials they cannot chew through, like bricks or cured concrete, they can chew through many building materials (insulation, drywall, wiring, gas pipe, etc.), stored items, food packaging, and more.
However, since they can constrict their bodies to squeeze through dime-sized holes, they can often squeeze through gaps in your home instead of chewing through things. So, if there’s a gap they can fit through, they’ll simply wiggle through and avoid chewing through the material altogether.
How Do I Stop Mice From Running Under My Door?
The sight of mice scuttling under the door and across the floor is enough to make most people immediately seek higher ground, whether that’s a nearby chair, the kitchen counter, or your spouse. So, how do you prevent the tiny pests from creeping into your home? Here are a few potential solutions:
Use A Towel
A tightly-rolled towel can function as a temporary solution to keep mice at bay while you wait for your door sweep to arrive. Simply roll an old towel in a tight twist, then shove it into the space underneath the door. You might need to use several towels to fill the gap and create a complete barrier.
While this option can function as a temporary fix, it doesn’t always keep the mice out. If the mice want it bad enough, they can easily chew through the towel to enter your home. So, while this option isn’t always effective or a long-term solution, it can be a quick temporary fix.
Install A Door Sweep
A door sweep is one of the most effective options for keeping mice from sneaking under your door. These are pretty standard on doors, usually made of rubber to help keep hot and cool drafts from entering your home.
However, you can trade the rubber sweep for a reinforced sweep. While rubber and vinyl sweeps might keep mice at bay for a little while, they can easily chew through the material, so once they decide to start working on it, it doesn’t take long before the problem bubbles over again.
So, opt for a reinforced sweep instead of installing another rubber or vinyl sweep. They’re usually made of rubber but feature a filling of steel wool or a similar polyfill, which helps deter mice from chewing through the entire sweep.
Reinforced sweeps perform reasonably well in homes with mild to moderate mouse issues, but in severe cases, they might not work for long. A metal door sweep might be your best option if you have a severe mouse problem. These feature a metal plate, often made of aluminum or steel, and are much more durable than their rubber counterpart, so they’re highly effective at preventing mice from entering your home.
Another option is a metal brush sweep, which features heavy-duty metal bristle strips to deter unwanted visitors. In most cases, mice will not bother trying to chew through this material, so they can be pretty effective. However, these sweeps can wear out after a while, leading to gaps in the bristles where mice can sneak through.
Mice prefer the comfort of cover, sticking to brambles, tall grasses, and other shelters instead of open spaces. So, if you have bushes, tall grasses, or stuff piled around your home, this creates the perfect place for mice to nest. They appreciate the shelter, especially when it’s near a food source, like your garbage can or the enticing smells wafting from your home.
So, to keep the rodent issue away from your home, clean up in and around your home. Keep grasses, hedges, and bushes near your home’s foundation neatly trimmed, as this is a popular nesting place for mice. Rake leaves from the yard and keep leaf piles to a minimum, as they’re an ideal hiding place.
Address mouse problems in crawlspaces and underneath porches with baited traps. Keep garbage cans firmly shut and avoid leaving garbage bags in the open.
Inside your home, keep food stored in glass or thick plastic containers in your cupboard or fridge. Avoid keeping bags of food, like bagged bread, on the counter, as mice can easily chew through plastic bags. Sweep up food crumbles each day and clean up spills as they happen, as this draws in mice.
Find And Eliminate Entry Points
Unfortunately, mice can still usually find a way in, even if you block the door. So, focusing solely on the door isn’t a good idea. Instead, look at the problem as a whole, examining your home for entry points around doors, windows, crawl spaces, foundations, and anywhere else a mouse could shimmy inside.
Take the time to examine your home thoroughly, checking for small holes and gaps in doorframes, windows, foundation cracks, crawl spaces, and more. If you find spots where mice could sneak in, fill the space with copper mesh and apply caulk to seal it in.
Although mice can chew through caulk, the metal inside serves as a deterrent to keep the rodents at bay.
Replace Damaged Doors And Windows
As you examine your home for entry points, check the doors and windows (and their frames) for signs of damage. If they are damaged, old, or rotting, it’s best to replace them. While you could patch the holes with copper mesh and caulk, it’s a temporary fix that doesn’t truly address the problem.
So, replace old door trim, window frames, windows, and doors as necessary to keep the furry creatures out of your home.
Bonus: Installing energy-efficient doors and windows (or replacing worn-out trim and frames) can help lower energy bills. Doors and windows are common culprits of energy loss in typical residential homes, as holes and gaps let out warmed and cooled air from your HVAC system.
So, by installing new doors and windows with tight-fitting seals, you might save yourself money in the long run. Plus, your HVAC system won’t need to work overtime to compensate for the loss of heated/cooled air, so you might squeeze a few more years out of it!
Call An Exterminator
If you’ve tried everything you can think of to keep mice out of your home, but they continue to thwart your efforts, it might be time to call an exterminator. Once the problem becomes severe enough, you’ll likely need the assistance of an exterminator to address the issue, as you may have a considerable infestation in or around your home.