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House Mice: Can They Spread Disease or Cause a Fire?

By Chris Williams on January 23, 2011.

Q. I saw a mouse run under the oven, should I be worried?

A. Don’t panic, but yes there is a problem. Mice not only carry many diseases, mice may also start fires.

As mice search for food, urine and feces are spread in areas they frequent and investigate. Mice release fecal material every few minutes and urine as it is produced. Mice are associated with over 9 serious illnesses including: bubonic plague, salmanellosis, tape worms, ratbite fever, LCM virus, and Hanta virus. In areas of high mouse activity there can be a build up of fecal material, urine, and oily stains. A distinct odor and visual sightings during the daytime indicate a large population of mice is present. Even at low levels the damage and contamination caused by mice is a concern to all.

baby-mouse

Mice and most rodents need to gnaw constantly to prevent their teeth from growing too large. As a result, mice will chew on anything they can find, including wires. Having evolved from ancestors in tropical environments, rodents are adept at grabbing and chewing small vines, twigs, and roots. This close resemblance to wiring in modern homes is of major consequence. Fire investigators assume that many fires of unknown origin were caused by rodents gnawing wires. As rodents chew through the outer vinyl and plastic coatings, the inner live copper wires become exposed allowing for direct arcing between positive and negative wires, causing a fire to start. Much can be done to control mice, starting with a professional rodent inspection for signs of rodent damage and activity.

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