While the bad publicity surrounding rats would lead many to assume that they must be the most commonly encountered rodent pests within homes, most people would probably not be surprised to learn that mice are actually the most common indoor rodent pests. To be more specific, the house mouse is the most common and widespread home-invading rodent species in all areas of the US. In addition to being the most frequently encountered rodents within homes, house mice are also the most economically significant rodent pests in the country due to their habit of chewing on plaster walls, furniture upholstery, stored food, and even electrical wiring, which has led to devastating house fires in the past.

Squirrels, on the other hand, do not strike many people as “pests” due to their ubiquity in residential yards and urban parks where they seem concerned with nothing more than gathering nuts. Although squirrels do not invade homes and inflict property damage as often as mice, squirrels have always been known as occasional rodent pests within and around homes, and the last couple of years in Maine have seen an unusually high rate of squirrel pest issues on residential properties. One wildlife control company employee in New England states that around 75 percent of house calls are squirrel-related. While squirrels and mice inflict similar forms of property damage, these two pests invade homes in different ways.

Mice typically invade homes from the ground, while squirrels often invade homes through entry points at the roof line. Mice usually gain indoor access through the gaps below doors, through basement windows, entry points found in crawl spaces, and small openings on a home’s exterior walls. Squirrels are avid climbers, and they frequently use tree branches to access roofs where they may enter homes through attic vents, chew through soft wood beneath shingles, squeeze through gaps around utility cables, and possibly through flue pipes and chimneys. Just like mice, squirrels nest within wall insulation and hide out in attics and basements, but mice may be more damaging due to their habit of shredding fabrics and paper in order to construct nests in wall voids. Although house mice usually invade homes from the ground, they are also capable climbers. Mice can run vertically up roughly textured walls, maintain balance while running horizontally along cables and wires, and jump onto vertical surfaces as far as a one foot off of the ground. House mice and squirrels possess razor sharp teeth, and both often chew through wiring and wall plaster.

Have you ever discovered signs of squirrels in your attic?