It’s not always easy to tell if you have a mouse problem in your house. These critters are tiny, fast, and tend to hide, so unless you spot them on the move, you might not even know they’re there. Sure, you could notice physical evidence of a mouse, like droppings or small holes in your home, but even that requires you to do some extra legwork in searching for these signs. Fortunately, even the smallest, sneakiest, or quickest mouse is prone to making some noise when it’s nesting in your house. According to experts, this rodent is nocturnal, so they tend to be loudest at night. Read on to find out which five sounds you should listen for in your home, especially once the sun has set.
RELATED: If You Notice This Smell at Home, You May Have Mice, Experts Warn.
One of the most consistent sounds a mouse will make in your home is scratching, according to Alexander Crawley, a senior executive and entomology consultant at Fantastic Pest Control Australia. According to Crawley, mice will make holes in the walls of your home throughout multiple areas, from your ceilings to your cabinets and lofts, or “basically anywhere thin enough to create an entry point.”
“This leads to scratching noises that can drive anyone mad. Since mice don’t really care about what they will destroy, if you have an active infestation, you can hear those sounds everywhere,” he explains. Jack Miller, a pest control expert and founder of the home improvement blog How I Get Rid Of, also says that a scratching sound might be the sound of a mouse climbing or crawling.
RELATED: 6 Foods in Your Kitchen That Are Bringing Mice Into Your Home.
While scratching could indicate that mice are crawling about, experts say their running might sound a bit different. Megan Cavanaugh, a pest expert and co-owner of pest control company Done Right Pest Solutions, says that it’s important to recognize that a mouse’s run will likely sound lighter than you might imagine.
“Mice are very light—only a couple of ounces. Pitter-patter is a good way to describe mice sounds [when running],” she says, adding that a repetitive thumping sound is more likely to be a larger rodent, like a rat, or even a squirrel.
Shawn Laib, a pest expert working with InsuranceProviders.com, also says it’s likely you won’t hear running noises unless there is more than one mouse in your home. “Mice feet are tiny, and many of them running at once is going to produce a grainy rumbling, like taking your nail and running it over a piece of wood,” Laib says.
Once inside your home, mice will make nests. According to Cooper Pest, these rodents are likely to make their nests in the areas of the house that have the least human activity, such as within the wall, insulation, attics, or under the refrigerator, stove, or dishwasher. But in order to build these nests, they will need to gather materials—which is where a dragging sound comes into play.
“Mice need a lot of material in order to build their nests. More frequently they search for different fabrics, cardboard, newspapers, insulation, and other useful materials,” Crawley says. “Once they gather enough materials, mice drag them back to their nest and continue building. These low dragging sounds can come from inside your walls, which the mice often use as corridors to move around the house.”
RELATED: For more pest advice delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Many experts, like Leonard Ang, the chief executive officer for iProperty Management, an online resource guide for landlords, tenants, and real estate investors, say that a gnawing, or chewing, sound is one of the strongest indicators of mice. “Mice chew on wood and … when it is multiple mice at once, that noise can be loud,” Ang says.
According to Crawley, mice will gnaw on several different surfaces, including drywall, cardboard, floors, and baseboards. “You will mostly hear this awful sound around your kitchen and near the foundations of your home like the basement or attic,” he says.
And if you hear gnawing, you should be able to see it eventually as well. “Mice are always on the lookout for food, so it is highly likely that they will have been in your kitchen, touching and eating your food. You will be able to tell by claw and teeth markings on pantry items,” Cavanaugh explains.
As for as how mice talk to one another, most experts say the sound is most often described as squeaking. “Squeaking is definitely a giveaway that mice are communicating with one another,” Clarissa Benny, a certified pest control technician from Florida and a consultant at HouseGrail, says.
But Crawley warns that this is not the only communicative sound you could hear from mice. “Squeaking is only one of the many sounds that they make. You can also hear mice chirping and even singing to each other,” he explains. Because mice are nocturnal, “they can mostly be heard ‘talking’ to each other at night.”
RELATED: 6 Plants Attracting Mice to Your Home.