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6 Things Attracting Mice Into Your Basement

Check your cellar for these if you want to avoid any pest problems.

Similar to garages, your home's basement can be flexible in the way it gets used. Some are finished and furnished just like any other room in the house. Others are nothing more than a concrete sub-level used for storage. But whatever the case may be for your home, you might be attracting mice if you keep certain things in your basement. Read on to see what you shouldn't be storing in your cellar.

RELATED: If You Notice This Smell at Home, You May Have Mice, Experts Warn.

Exposed insulation

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Depending on where you live, you may need insulation to keep your home warm—especially below ground, where cold temperatures can be hard to control. But if your basement is partially unfinished, it's important to make sure that the fluffy material keeping the underground rooms in your home warm hasn't become a cozy abode for mice itself.

If you think you may have a mouse infestation, check any exposed insulation for signs of nest building or rodent droppings. Then, replace any material you find that looks like it's been burrowed into and seal up the new insulation to ensure the pests don't try to come back and reclaim their home. Experts recommend calling a professional to swap out fiber insulation for sprayable foam that mice can't burrow into if the problem persists.

Cluttered piles and storage boxes

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Just like attics, basements can become your go-to storage area for extra items you may not need within close reach. But while there's nothing wrong with stashing holiday decorations or extra clothing down below, it's crucial that you keep everything well maintained. Usually, this means opting for plastic storage containers that can be stacked a few inches away from walls, so you don't give mice a place to hide out in or make their home.

Experts also warn that it's not just general clutter that you need to be careful of keeping in your cellar. "If you store cardboard or unused furniture like spare couches or chairs in your basement, you're providing rodents with everything they need to build their nests," Daren Horton, founder of Gecko Pest Control, which has offices in Marshall and Longview, Texas, tells Best Life. "They'll burrow through and tear apart these items and use them as nesting material. They can even build their nests directly inside of old furniture."

RELATED: 6 Things in Your Garage That Are Bringing Mice to Your Home.

Food storage

A black and white mouse surrounded by food in a kitchen cabinet

Basements can be a fantastic temperature-stable place to store food and beverages that don't quite fit into your pantry or cabinets upstairs. Unfortunately, doing so might also be putting out a feast for mice or rats who've managed to make it inside. If you're using your cellar to keep spare ingredients or snacks, make sure you're storing your items in tightly sealed glass or rigid plastic containers and putting them on shelves.

And it's not just human food mice are after: Dog food, cat food, and birdseed could be attracting them to your basement as well. "Storing pet food in open bags on the floor is a recipe for a rodent problem," Denise Trad Wartan, General Manager of Trad's Pest Control in Jacksonville, Florida, tells Best Life. "Pet food should be stored in plastic tubs so it blocks the smell from rodents and makes it harder to access."

Dampness or moisture

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As the underground part of your house, basements are particularly prone to flooding, leaks, and overall moisture build-up. And while mildew, mold, and damage to stored items might seem like the biggest issue that comes along with a damp cellar, it can also provide rodents with the hydration they need to survive.

"Mice love dark, damp environments," Mark Constantino, owner of Arkadia Eco Pest Control, which has offices in Randolph and Hackettstown, New Jersey, tells Best Life. "Any leaks found in a basement can lead to the perfect conditions for mice and rats because of the constant source of water."

If you notice pooling water or moisture in your cellar, make sure to look for any cracks in the foundation or windows that could be causing the issue. According to Terminix, this includes dugout windows, which can allow for water to pool during rainstorms and lead to flooding issues if they aren't properly maintained.

RELATED: 7 Cleaning Habits That Attract Mice.

Thick brush near your home

Mouse feeding on a sunflower seeds under a bird feeder.

Sometimes, it's not what's in your basement that can attract a mice infestation, but what's right near it. Keep an eye on the shrubs, grass, and flowers planted alongside your house near the foundation, always making sure that any ground-covering, thick, or low-lying foliage stays well maintained. Otherwise, mice may be able to make their way into your home thanks to the hiding places in your garden that draw them in.

Of course, you should also take care to avoid planting anything near your house that might attract rodents, as well. "Common plants that attract rats and mice include ivy, cypress and palm trees, and juniper bushes," Kent Edmunds, CEO of Paul's Termite & Pest Control, which has offices in Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Florida, tells Best Life. "These plants offer shelter and food for them."

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Unsealed cracks or holes

cracks in the home's foundation

Even though the foundation of your house should be one of the most solid, durable parts of your home, weather and time can take a toll on the concrete keeping everything stable. Regularly inspect the perimeter of your home on both the interior and exterior, making sure to seal up any gaps between the foundation and soil, the foundation wall and your home's floors, and gaps around plumbing or wiring that could allow them to enter, Terminix recommends.

And don't assume that only gaping holes are problems. "Rats only need a half an inch, and mice only need a quarter of an inch of space to gain entry," Timothy Best, Technical Manager at Terminix, tells Best Life. He recommends sealing up any cracks or crannies you find.

RELATED: 6 Things in Your Yard That Are Bringing Mice to Your Home.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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