What Happens To Mice And Rats In The Winter

Mice and rats are nocturnal creatures by nature. Though they can be spotted during the day, they prefer to go unnoticed which is why they are more prone to be seen at night. If mice and/or rats are seen during the daytime hours, it’s usually a sign of infestation, however, there are times when these rodents have to travel to find suitable shelter as well as food and water. Within the states of Oregon and Washington, the species of rodents most typically seen are the Roof Rat, Norway Rat, Deer Mouse and the expected Common House Mouse.

Do Mice And Rats Hibernate in the Winter?

Mice and rats are exceptionally busy creatures. It seems they almost never stop in their pursuits of searching for food and water. In any given season these rodents can be seen roaming, gathering and storing food in large quantities. Part of this behavior has to do with prepping for the colder months where exposure to freezing temps could prove fatal. Though mice and rats do not hibernate during the winter, they will do everything they can to retain energy stores and a level body temperature. Reducing their activities and doubling their food intake enables these rodents to survive the chilly winter seasons which can be expected in the states of Oregon and Washington.

Though mice and rats do not hibernate, they do have an expected season in which humans are more likely to see them in increased numbers. Rodent season, if one were to provide its timeline, is anywhere between August and October when the weather starts to turn and mice and rats register that it’s time to find warmer dwellings. This is the period when rodents stop breeding and start looking for shelter indoors. With mice birthing up to 60 babies a year and rats around 24, that’s a lot of new rodents looking for shelter. Many rodents carry harmful diseases that can pass to humans making the idea of mice and rats sharing our living spaces concerning. Not only are they carriers of disease, rodents can cause major damage to the internal spaces of your home. Both mice and rats are known to chew through wires, insulation, structural beams and drywall.

What Happens to Mice And Rats In The Winter

If mice and rats hunker down for the winter in order to preserve energy stores and keep warm, where exactly do they hunker down? Well, it’s estimated that around 21 million homes in the United States will be shelters for rodents come the winter season. That means that millions of families will have mice and rats living with them! That’s not a number that sits well as a homeowner. Most critters will search for warmth during the winter but no one wants them searching for it within their own home. Unfortunately, these are the common places mice and rats will look when they decide they need to find shelter from the cold.

As previously stated, rodents are notorious for carrying disease. Once inside they will not only wreak havoc on the internal structures of your home, they will leave behind feces, urine and oil from their fur in the midst of their destruction. Mice themselves are known to leave behind 70-150 droppings a day and that just accounts for one mouse! Mice in particular are much more active than rats. Rats behave in such a way that it almost seems as if they are trying to be quiet whereas mice could care less. Maybe it’s because of their size but whatever the case, they will have no problem scurrying through the walls of your home where they can easily be heard.

Rats on the other hand have a natural tendency to hide which leaves them looking for spaces they can be discreet. Much of their activity will be heard or seen in attic or crawl spaces. They chew and gnaw their way through their surroundings just like mice do but with a bigger bite. They also have the ability to chew through tougher pieces of material like aluminum, glass, sheet metal and cinder blocks. As disease carriers, they transfer harmful diseases to humans via their excrement as they crawl back and forth along the pathways they create; leading them through your home and cross contaminating along the way.

How To Keep Mice And Rats Out Of Your Home In The Winter

When it comes to keeping mice and rats out of your home in the winter we will want to look at the three things they need in order to survive which are food, water and shelter.


Without food, rodents will eventually starve or at best, search for a new location that provides a food source. When food is scarce, rats are known to feed on other mice or even each other but more than likely they will come across something they can ingest. Making sure that food is not accessible in or around your home is a preventative measure in ensuring that these rodents are not attracted to your living spaces. Tidying up all pantry closets along with using sealed containers for both people and pet food is a sure way to deter rodents from looking for food. Keeping floors swept from crumbs is an additional precaution as food debri is an attractant.


When it comes to water you want to think about areas where water can drip, drain or puddle. Mice and rats will not go looking to drink from your faucets but they will drink from leaking pipes, puddles underneath and around your home as well as areas where water drains. Doing a perimeter check around and in your home is worth the time as these will not only attract rodents but can become costly fix-its if left unattended.


In order to keep mice and rats out of your home in the winter you’ll need to make sure they don’t have access to it. Seal off all cracks, holes and crevices even if they are the size of a dime. Rats can squeeze through holes the size of a quarter and mice are known to squeeze through holes the size of a nickel. By sealing off all possible entry points, you as a homeowner are defending your property from a possible infestation and ensuring your family peace of mind. Stacking all wood at least 6ft. away from the exterior of the home is important as well. Remember, rodents like to go unseen, so don’t give them reason to! Cut back all overhanging branches from your home along with bushes and vegetation. A well maintained yard is a great way to prevent rodents from invading your property.

If you suspect that you have a mice or rat problem on your hands this winter, call your local pest control company. They will be able to assess your situation, tell you how to get rid of rodents and provide you tips on how you can prevent the problem from recurring.

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