Uninvited guests have found their way into your home — what now?

They can be adorable in cartoons or in the wild. But finding mice in your home can trigger plenty of angst, and pest control outlets tend to see a surge of calls about the little critters this time of year.

“They’re gonna come in any time of the year,” John Simpkins, owner of Mid-Atlantic Wildlife Control, said. “I would say that 90% of our calls are primarily in fall,” and early winter.

The key to preventing an infestation is sealing up points of entry and that includes, “your garage, utility lines, foundation vents, under your siding,” said Simpkins. From the inside, the first indicators may be containers that have been nibbled through or tiny droppings.

If you spot signs that mice have entered your home, don’t delay in contacting a wildlife or pest control business, Simpkins said. That’s because once mice have found adequate shelter and food, they’ll settle in quickly.

“They can reproduce every six weeks,” he said.

And their young can be ready to do the same in just eight weeks.

Simpkins said many homeowners dash out to the hardware store or supermarket to get poisons when they see they have a mouse problem, but he’s not a fan, since “you always stand a chance” of exposing pets or small children to those same poisons.

And if a mouse eats the poison and crawls back into an inaccessible space, you’ll soon have an odor problem and need to get the dead animal removed.

Glue traps are something Simpkins simply doesn’t use.

“It’s something the industry is still struggling with,” said Simpkins, who explained there are a number of issues presented by glue traps.

Number one, you can trap “non-target animals” such as snakes, flying squirrels, birds and just as with poisons, children and pets. And “the glue is extremely difficult to get off.”

Another reason Simpkins doesn’t advise using glue traps: they can trap protected species, including birds and bats. In the case of bats, Simpkins sees a real ecological problem.

“The numbers of bats are decreasing so rapidly,” he said. “Every single bat species we can save is critical.”

So what should a homeowner use to get mice out of the house for good? Simpkins said traps, whether lethal or humane, are his preferred method.

“What people have seen for over 100 years, the old, conventional wooden snap traps” are very effective, Simpkins said.

But for those homeowners who just can’t bring themselves to go that route, Simpkins said, humane traps can work as well.

“As a matter of fact, there’s actually several dozen different designs of live capture traps,” he said.

The advantage for the homeowner who uses live capture or humane traps, Simpkins said, is that “they can physically take them out of their home and, if they’d like, they can rerelease them humanely without ever even having to touch the animals.”

In his years on the job, Simpkins has handled all kinds of removals: skunks, foxes, even copperhead snakes. In one case, he found dozens of flying squirrels in a home.

Simpkins said they’re “adorable,” but they can do considerable damage.

“They are the ones that we predominantly see chewing electrical wires.”

The wildest thing he’s ever been called to tackle?

“We’ve removed up to 6-foot long alligators out of city homes,” he said.

Usually, that’s due to someone who’s traveled to an area where alligators are found and brings home a baby that quickly grows to a size that’s more than they bargained for.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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