Cleaning up after Rodents
University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension Educator Dennis Ferraro is the resident herpetologist at the School of Natural Resources. Dennis writes timely articles on animals that you might see on your acreage in Nebraska, ranging from mammals to insects. This month covers dealing with unwelcome 4-legged visitors.
House mice and field mice (deer mice, white-footed mice, and voles) are among the animals that migrate indoors when cold temperatures settle into the area. House mice make up the majority of rodent infestations in homes. Field mice prefer to stay away from human habitats, but a severe winter may cause them to take refuge in houses.
Mice can cause significant contamination inside structures. The average mouse will leave more than 70 droppings per day and more than an ounce of urine in the same time period. Both field and house mice are sources of bacteria and diseases.
Preventing rodent infestations is the desired treatment. However, this is not possible in many cases. Once the animals have been controlled and barred from the house, cleaning up soiled areas is extremely important. When removing dead rodents, their droppings, or nesting materials, always wear latex gloves (or another appropriate type if you are allergic to latex) and a proper dust mask. Avoid disturbing rodent droppings; never sweep or collect dry excrement. Be especially cautious when entering areas that have been vacated or closed up for a long period of time. Always use a moist cloth or mop to prevent bacteria and viruses from becoming airborne. Humans can inhale the bacteria and viruses in the air, sometimes resulting in diseases such as histoplasmosis or hantavirus.
Place collected contaminants placed in plastic bags, then seal and discard with household garbage. Contaminated areas should be cleaned with a household disinfectant, such as chlorine bleach or ammonia. Never mix cleaning products. Discard any contaminated food items, including pet foods, as well as items such as paper dishes and napkins.