Mice are prey animals, meaning that they have many natural predators. Their natural instincts keep them safe from these predators and are very strong. So what are their instincts like when it comes to nesting?
Mice will return to a disturbed nest. It is possible that the mouse would choose to abandon all of their belongings or even their children, but this is a fairly rare occurrence that only happens in extreme cases of predation.
In this article, I will go into great detail about why mice are so attached to their nests and why they will return to one even if it’s been disturbed.
Why Mice Usually Return to Their Nests
More often than not, a mouse will return to a nest that has been disturbed, even just temporarily. As long as the nest found has not been effectively destroyed, there reasons for a mouse to return to the best often outweigh the risks involved.
Even though they usually return at least once, the length of that return depends on whether the mouse is male or female, has young, or has had that particular nest in that area for a significant period of time.
If the nest is just days old and has no babies, the mouse is much less likely to risk returning to the disturbed nest. However, mice are more likely to return to a disturbed nest if they’ve invested a lot of resources in it already, especially if there are young living in the nest.
Let’s look into the biggest motivations for a mouse to return to a disturned nest in greater detail.
Female Mice Are Extremely Dedicated Mothers
As far as animals go, female mice are some of the best moms you can find in the animal kingdom. The bond is so strong between a mouse and her babies that the offspring are able to recognize their mother for the majority of their lives!
When a female mouse prepares to give birth to her babies, she carefully chooses the place and environment. The safety of her young is of the utmost priority, so she will usually be around, guarding her babies. The only reason she might leave is to gather more food for herself.
For these reasons, if you disturb a nest with baby mice, the chance of her continuing to return to the nest to care for her babies is very high.
There are instances where a mother mouse may not return and so abandon her young, but only if she herself was not nurtured appropriately as a baby mouse. If the mother dies or otherwise abandons her young, those mice (if they survive) are more likely to abandon their own future offspring.
Their Nesting Location Is Comfortable
Mice are unlikely to give up a nesting location if it provides them with everything they need, even if it’s been disturbed. They love warmth, food, and comfort so much that they’re unlikely to move from an indoor nest even if it’s been disturbed in some way. Mice love their comforts, and they don’t give them up quickly or easily.
Even if their nest is disturbed and they do not have young to return for, there is still a good chance that a mouse will return to their nest. The risk of returning is easily outweighed by the risk of facing all of the perils involved in finding a new nesting spot.
What You Should Do If You Find a Mouse Nest in Your Home
You might be tempted to immediately grab the nest and get it out of your home, but this is actually not the course of action you should take.
While the mouse or mice definitely should not continue to board in your home, there are processes for making sure that they are removed safely, humanely, and effectively.
To start, protect yourself. Wear gloves and a face mask so that if the mouse is carrying any diseases, you will not get exposed to them. Rodents can carry some pretty gnarly diseases, and the last thing you need is to become patient zero.
Grab the nest and place it in a large, tall container. Buckets work nicely for this. If there are mice inside of the nest, this ensures that they will be moved out of your house instead of running into the next room to start on a new nest.
If you have mice, transport them somewhere quite far away and preferably heavily wooded. Don’t just let them go outside of your home since they are very likely to find their way back in.
With the nest, you will need to discard it as a hazardous material. If the mice were carrying diseases, the nest might be enough to transmit it to humans or pets.
Finally, clean your house from top to bottom and pay special attention to the area that the nest was found in. You need to destroy the mouse’s scent for themselves, so bleach is the best option. Locate any mouse droppings, newspapers, books, food, etc. that might have been a source of material of food and toss it.
You can also contact a pest management professional if you have trouble removing the mice or want help from someone with plenty of experience removing rodents and other pests.
Don’t Move a Nest With Babies Very Far
If you have found a nest with pink little mouse babies inside your home, you will want to make sure to give the mother a chance to return for them.
If you haven’t already moved the nest, the best option is to seal off the room and wait for the mother’s return. Once she does, take steps to collect the nest with the mouse and offspring and transport them somewhere appropriate.
If you have already touched the nest, take it outside in a cardboard box and place it at the point of entry that the mouse was using. Give the babies anything they need to keep warm, such as old shirts or heating pads, and then try to watch for the mother’s return.
Hopefully, you will see her come back for her young, and then you can gather them up to be transported far away.
Once the mice and her babies are back in the great outdoors, get out your bleach and start scrubbing down the house.
How To Know if You Have Mouse House Guests
Typically, it is pretty obvious if there is a mouse in your home if you know what to look for.
Mice are nocturnal, so if you hear many scratching sounds and squeaks at night, it is probably a mouse or many mice. It could be along with the floors, in the walls, or inside drawers and cabinets.
Finding shreds of paper around and holes in your cracker boxes is a big indication of a mouse somewhere inside your house.
Mice often return to disturbed nests, so getting rid of their nests often isn’t enough of a deterrent to keep them away from your home. They’re sometimes difficult to remove if they’ve found a place with sufficient food and comfort, so work with pest management professionals if you have trouble with a mouse infestation.
- Toronto Wildlife Centre: Nest Disturbed
- Fantastic Pest Control: Mice Nests, Everything You Need to Know
Forbes: Mice Remember Their Moms Even in Middle Age