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Mouse In Your New House? Signs to Look for Before & After You Buy

Moving into a new home can be an exciting time, but don’t forget to investigate before taking the plunge. 

Pest control is always on my mind when thinking about my surroundings. That came in handy when my husband and I were preparing to buy a new home. I’d fallen in love with a beautiful home with a gorgeous porch and a very unique floor layout. Unfortunately, once we stepped inside, I realized I wasn’t alone in my admiration. As someone who can smell a mouse a mile away, I knew a colony of them had made it their home first.

Open house for a home that's for sale

One of the first things I noticed was the foul smell of a dead mouse. The next thing that caught my attention was the little black droppings that appeared in the carpet.

As someone who works in pest management and prevention, I knew I had the tools to make that house my own. But ultimately we decided it just wasn’t worth the effort due to the great deal of damage they’d done.

How did I know there was mouse activity? That’s what I’m going to share with you so that you’ll have your own checklist before you sign on the dotted line. 

Signs of Mice In a New Home
Mouse coming through a hole in the wall

Whether you’re buying a home from a previous owner or having a brand new home built, you’ll want to know how to detect an infestation. If you’re looking at pre-existing homes there could be costly updates and lots of work to do depending on the severity of the infestation. If you’re planning to build a new home, keep in mind that construction can stir up critter activity, so it’s important to prevent them from infesting your home from the beginning!

Here’s what to check for: 


When stepping into a house, look for rub marks along the walls and carpet. Mice and rats use a pathway along the wall and will leave behind grease marks and wear on the carpet, along with a trail of feces.


When it comes to mouse droppings, most of the time there will be no odor. However, if the rodents have had a run of the house for a significant amount of time, with little airflow, the feces will start to pile up and leave the house with a musky odor. Look for feces on the floor or carpet, especially along paths by the baseboards, window sills, kitchen cabinets, and counters. The first clue will be little black spots, about the size of a grain of rice. If you are able to, move the stove, fridge, or dressers and look behind them.

Chew holes

Chew holes can be found anywhere that a rodent has made its own entrance and exit. Look in vents, ridge caps, soffits, and siding for chew holes. The dryer vent is the ideal place for a mouse or rat to chew its way in. Because of the warmth that is coming from the vent, they will seek refuge, especially in the winter months. If you find holes and lots of gnawing in the woodwork of the edifice or on power cords, you have reason to worry.

Foul smell

There is nothing like the smell of a dead rodent and once you have experienced it, you will never forget it. It is very similar to that of roadkill. If you walk into a house and the first thing that you can smell is a dead rat–be cautious! That usually means there’s not just a single mouse living there, more than likely it’s a full infestation.

Signs of Pests Potentially Moving In

If you’re buying a house from a previous owner, beyond looking for signs of mice already living there, you should consider signs that they may be potentially moving in.

Stored boxes

Do the current owners have lots of things packed up in cardboard boxes? Rodents love boxes because they are easy to chew into. They provide a great shelter, and the shards of cardboard make great nesting materials. Not to mention the awesome goodies that they may find inside, like clothes, blankets, or family heirlooms.

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Food sources left out

Have you noticed any food that the current owner has left out? Rats and mice love a nice buffet of their favorites — and surprisingly, cheese is not high on their list. Their favorite treats include pet food and grains, cereals, bread, and crackers. And hey, those McDonald’s bags are also a real delight.

Mouse eating food left outMess left behind

Rodents love clutter because it provides them with some great hiding places and all sorts of found treasures. Also, they are attracted to dirt and dust which goes hand in hand with clutter. They rely mostly on their sense of smell as their eyesight is poor, so a full trash can or dumpster will also attract them.

Cracks in foundation or windows/doors

Any window or door that has been left open, or cracks and gaps in foundation or siding, may as well be a big “Welcome Home” sign to a rodent. These allow easy access for them without actually having to work for it.

Bought a New House With a Mouse Problem?

If you’re buying a house with a mouse infestation, or you notice some possible signs in your new construction home, know that you are not up the creek without a paddle.

There are things homeowners can do to get rid of mice and prevent them in the future.

Mouse breaking through wallpaperSeal up entry points

A mouse can fit into a small hole or gap an eighth of an inch wide. So, be sure to check the vents and soffits. Walk around the outside of the house and look for any holes big enough for an entrance point.

Eliminate the attractants

Getting rid of clutter, mess, and dirt, some of their favorite things to hide in, you’ll be giving your home a little less curbside appeal  — at least from their perspective. A dusty and cluttered mess provides for an easy shelter to build nests and raise a family.

Do not leave food out

Any food that is stored in a cardboard box or easily accessed bag like cereal, bread, oatmeal, and crackers, should be kept in an air-tight container. Let’s not forget pet food — a favorite amongst the pest set — should also be kept in an air-tight tub so mice and rats will not smell it and try to make it their own.

Rodent control

Consider using a botanical rodent repellent like Fresh Cab®. The scent is too strong to a rodent’s sense of smell, but pleasant to ours, leaving our house smelling fresh and clean. Some people say that the smell is similar to the scent of a fresh-cut Christmas tree.

Other Precautionary Tips to Consider When Moving

If you’re getting ready to move into your new home soon, here are a few other tips to consider during the process: 

  • Don’t pack and store anything edible that mice are attracted to, like cereals, baby snacks, etc. Their sense of smell is the strongest of their five senses, and they can smell through containers from a distance.
  • Cardboard boxes are pretty much the worst container to use if you don’t want mice to inhabit your things. They eat it, chew it, nest with it, and destroy it. Use air-tight containers with thick plastic to pack your belongings. Although they can chew through thick plastic given enough time, they are more of a deterrent than cardboard.
  • Place 1 pouch of Fresh Cab® in every tub. You want to be sure you aren’t bringing these pests into your new home by carrying them in your packed belongings! 
  • Clean the space inside your new home before moving in to help prevent mice and bugs. Here are a few organic “pesticides” that you can use for de-bugging:
    • Spinosad – Simply put, spinosad is a bacteria in powder form that is designed to kill parasitic insects like cockroaches, spider mites, bloodsuckers and others. Spray these inside the empty spaces of your new home late in the afternoon and leave it to dry.
    • Neem oil – Neem oil is mainly used for gardening, but its effects are the same for household insect pests as well. According to the Gardening Channel, what it does is suppress the appetite of insects from the beginning of their life cycle, shortening that and preventing them from multiplying.
    • Boric acid – Boric acid can be sprayed on all surfaces of the house, including carpets and furniture. Let it settle for a day, and then vacuum the dead bugs out.
  • Call in the Experts – You could do your best at pest-proofing your new home before you move in, but a pest control company has good equipment, expertise and training. Calling them to your new home to inspect it could be helpful. 

As you look forward to settling into your new house, knowing that you performed the proper pest control and prevention actions can make the process even better.

4 thoughts on “Mouse In Your New House? Signs to Look for Before & After You Buy

  1. Alp says:

    Hi how are you came across you blog via search engine.. Wish i read this before buy home maybe would have kept better eye out. Had so many things on mind and to be honest it was great deal as bought house during covid. If I waited I would not be able to afford the home.

    We moved from a semi dettached to this 2 level plus 1 level bsmt and 2 car garage. Last home was 60years old and had zero pest problems. This new home is 25 years old. We started reno in bsmt as it was pretty old untouched. During reno found 1 dead mouse and tons of droppings behind the bsmt kitchen walls. I figured it was from long time ago. Reno got completed and zero mouse droppings until other day.

    Saw a mouse run across my living room soon as saw me he went into the fire place. Scared the crap out of me and I did not sleep at all that night. Next day pest control came and placed bait in places. He mentioned he thinks possible entrance could be via garage under garage door sweep. Anyway i am frantically taping outside fire place vents as dont use it. Replacing dryer vent flaps with some kind of protector wire mesh. My garage door waiting for a repair guy to come check out.

    It is beyond frustrating and bit of a nightmare to think I am sharing home with mice and who knows how many there are. 🙁

    1. Rita Stadler says:

      Hi there,
      I’m sorry to hear about your situation, that does sound very frustrating! The good news is that you’re doing all the right things 🙂 We always suggest homeowners start by removing anything that may attract pests, so try to get rid of any cardboard boxes that may be leftover from the move into your new home. Mice will chew the cardboard and use it as nesting material, while other common pests may lay eggs in the corrugated spaces. Perhaps worst of all, cockroaches will actually eat the glue used to hold the box together! Other attractants include uncovered trash bins, dripping pipes or faucets, and any food that is left uncovered or improperly stored.
      Once the attractants have been removed or contained, you’ll want to make sure there aren’t any unprotected entry points into your home. It sounds like you’ve been taking care of the most likely areas such as the garage door and dryer vent, but feel free to reach out to us if you have more questions.
      Finally, for added protection and peace of mind, place a few pouches of rodent repellent wherever you see signs of mice and around the entry areas of your home.
      Thanks for reading!

  2. Wendy Umbl says:

    I moved in a rental house..after 3 months i see mice… It’s been 6 mlonths and 2 exterminatos and I’m furious
    What can I do

    1. Rita Stadler says:

      Hi There!
      I’m so sorry to hear about your situation, that must be very frustrating! If the exterminators are using poisons or traps, they may actually be attracting more mice to the area by providing something disguised as an appealing food source. We suggest a 3 step plan for getting rid of rodents: First, clean up the area to remove anything that might attract mice – things like pet food, bird seed, and uncovered trash cans are easy food sources for rodents so make sure you store dry goods securely and use a trash can with a tight fitting lid. Second, seal up any holes, cracks and gaps that mice might use to get inside your home – carefully inspect doors, windows, plumbing and utility lines to make sure there are no openings; if you find any openings, fill them with steel wool and silicone caulk so mice cannot get through. Finally, protect your home with rodent repellent. The scent of Stay Away Rodent pouches will deter mice. Please let us know if you have any questions.
      Thanks for reading!

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