Mice can be a general nuisance and a genuine health risk, especially when they end up in your home. And for parts of Southern Colorado, this summer, residents are seeing more mice.
There are many things that will drive mice from their hiding places. One is heavy rains, which push these rodents to find a dry place. And your home is one of them.
It's Charles Osborne's job to know mice. Specifically, he looks for how to find them and get rid of them. But mice, he says, are a lot like most animals. "Generally, mice are looking for food and shelter to get in---just like everyone else."
That's why a lot of them head for dry ground when the weather gets sloppy. "They got their dens flooded out---you're gonna get increased activity," says Osborne.
The kind of mice he generally sees are your average field or house mouse. They are easily handled with a trap and some poison.
But the El Paso County Department of Health says the cool and wet spring makes more food for the Hantavirus-carrying deer mouse. And that could present a problem where “rural meets urban.” “What we're seeing is an increase in population, so people are noticing them." Dr. Tom Wood says a dwindling number of natural predators means the mouse population will flourish.
He says one-out-of-three deer mice carry the virus. It can spread to humans when they breathe dust contaminated by mouse droppings. "If they establish a population inside, we have a chance of exposure," says Wood.
The best defense, he says, is a good offense. Mouse-proof your house, and have plenty of snap traps on hand. Also, be cautious when cleaning out areas where droppings indicate that a mouse is making itself at home.
The El Paso County Department of Health has more information on Hantavirus: Click here