By Chris Williams on August 18, 2017.

Do house mice live in burrows outside or do they actually live in my house? We just discovered a mouse in our kitchen at the same time that we noticed a couple of holes in the ground in our backyard. P. S., Boscawen, NH

House mice can live in outside burrows, although it’s not common, and they can live exclusively in homes but it’s one or the other. They have small territories and don’t usually travel between outside and inside. House mice are totally adapted to living with people and once they move inside, that’s usually where they stay as long as food is available (see How to Check for Mice in Your House). But mice are perfectly capable of living outside as well with different food sources and different nest sites.


When house mice are found nesting outside, it’s not usually in ground burrows. They can nest in a variety of sites including piles of vegetation, tree cavities, and rock caverns. Around homes, they will also nest inside dark corners of sheds, or in unused equipment or abandoned autos. House mice living outside will breed seasonally during warm weather but inside they can breed year-round under the right conditions. It’s in a mouse’s best interests to move inside, especially in the Northeast with its cold winters.

Your mouse might not be a house mouse but could instead be a deer mouse (white-footed mouse). These mice are common in non-urban, wooded areas where they often live in outside structures such as sheds and unused cabins. They are becoming more common as pests in homes as well, moving inside in the fall (see Deer Mice – The Other Indoor Mice). Like the house mouse, deer mice rarely live in ground burrows outside.


My best guess, without an inspection, is that the holes you are seeing in your yard are unrelated to the mice in your house. Depending on the diameter of the opening, the holes could be made by moles, chipmunks, voles, or even a cicada killer wasp. Voles are a good guess; they are related to mice and often have lots of burrow openings. Voles feed on vegetation outside and almost never move inside.

Give Colonial Pest a call. We can inspect your outside holes to determine who they belong to and can trap the occupant if necessary. More importantly, we can set up a mouse control program for your home to get rid of the mice that have decided to become unwelcome indoor guests. We also mouse-proof homes to keep outside mice out.



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