Wood mouse in the snow.

Do Mice Hibernate in the Winter?

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to mice and rats during the cold winter months, you’re not alone. Many homeowners want to understand how these pesky rodents survive and whether they hibernate like other animals.

Let’s explore the winter habits of mice and rats, focusing on how they survive, what they eat, signs of infestation, and ways to deter them from invading your home.

Key Pest Points:

Mice and rats do not truly hibernate during the winter, but they may become less active due to cold temperatures.

• Rodents will seek warm places to survive winter weather, including homes and other buildings.

• Signs of a rodent infestation include gnawed food containers, droppings, and nests made from shredded materials.

Can Mice and Rats Survive in the winter? 

Contrary to popular belief, mice, and rats do not hibernate in the winter. Instead, they employ various strategies to brave the cold temperatures:

  • Nesting: Mice are experts at finding warm and cozy spots to build their nests. They seek refuge in wall voids, attics, basements, and other secluded areas where they can stay warm by utilizing the heat generated by your home.
  • Increased food storage: Before winter arrives, mice stockpile food in hidden corners of your home. They collect and hoard seeds, grains, nuts, and other edible items to sustain themselves during winter.

These nocturnal creatures are resilient and can adapt to nearly any environment, including cold winter temperatures. They use a combination of nesting, food storage, and reduced activity to survive in the winter. By understanding their habits, you can take steps to prevent them from invading your home.

Two mice eating food from the pantry and making a mess.

What do rats and mice eat in the winter?

Mice and rats are resourceful creatures that can adapt their diets based on what’s available. Here are some common food sources they rely on during the winter:

  • Stored food: Mice and rats will raid your pantry and feast on stored grains, cereals, and other dry goods. They can gnaw through packaging to access these food sources.
  • Bird feed: If you have bird feeders or scattered birdseed in your yard, mice and rats will gladly take advantage of this readily available food source.
  • Garbage: These opportunistic creatures will scavenge through your trash bins for discarded food.
  • Pet food: Leaving pet food out overnight can attract rodents. Mice and rats will happily indulge in leftover pet food left in open bowls.

Rodents are scavengers and will eat whatever they can find to survive during the winter. Properly storing food and keeping your home clean can help minimize their access to food sources.

Signs that Mice and Rats are Infesting Your Home

Knowing the signs that indicate a mouse or rat infestation in your home is essential. Look out for the following telltale signs:

  • Droppings: Rodent droppings are small, pellet-like feces typically found along their frequently traveled paths or near food sources.
  • Gnaw marks: Mice and rats must constantly chew to keep their teeth in check. Look for gnaw marks on furniture, walls, electrical wires, and other objects.
  • Strange sounds: If you hear scratching sounds, squeaks, and scratching coming from within walls or ceilings, it could be a sign of rodents nesting or moving around. Identifying these rodent noises will help you determine the size of your infestation.
  • Nests: Discovering shredded paper, fabric, or other soft materials in hidden corners or inside insulation can indicate the presence of mice or rats building nests.
  • Grease marks: Rodents tend to leave greasy smudges along their regular pathways as the oils in their fur accumulate on surfaces they brush against.

Knowing these signs and understanding do rats hibernate, will allow you to promptly address a rodent infestation before it becomes a more significant problem in your home. 

A cute little grey House Mouse is sitting on the window will of a shed, trying to hide.

Unique Ways To Prevent Rats and Mice from Invading Your Home

Traditional methods like sealing entry points and maintaining cleanliness are essential when it comes to keeping mice and rats out of your home during the winter.

However, you can also take some unique and creative approaches to prevent these pesky rodents from invading your space. Here are a few unconventional ways to get them away:

  • Scent repellents: Many smells can repel rodents. Spreading a combination of essential oils, such as peppermint and garlic, around your home can make it less attractive to mice and rats.
  • Live traps: If you have an infestation in progress, purchasing and setting live traps can effectively capture intruders without resorting to lethal means.
  • Insulate your home: Proper insulation keeps you cozy and makes it harder for rodents to find entry points. Seal gaps around doors, windows, and pipes with weatherstripping and caulk to minimize potential access points.
  • Secure outdoor food sources: During winter, mice and rats scavenge for food outdoors. Keep bird feeders elevated and away from the house, and store firewood away from the walls to discourage rodents from making a cozy home nearby.
  • Clear snow and debris: Remove snow piles, leaf piles, and debris around your home’s perimeter. These can provide hiding spots and easy access for rodents.
  • Install door sweeps: Place door sweeps at the bottom of exterior doors to block gaps that may serve as an entry point for rodents. Remember, they can squeeze through even the tiniest openings.
  • Use motion-activated sprinklersInstall motion-activated sprinklers around the exterior of your home. The sudden illumination can startle rodents, making them think twice about approaching your property.
  • Maintain proper storage: In winter, rodents may seek shelter in your garage or shed. Keep these areas tidy and organized, storing items in sealed containers rather than cardboard boxes that rodents can easily chew through. Purchasing a lockable shed or garage can also help deter unwanted visitors.
  • Regularly inspect your attic: Rodents love attics for their warmth and insulation. Inspect your attic regularly for any signs of entry, such as chewed wires or insulation damage. Seal any openings promptly to stop them from establishing nests.
  • Introduce rodent predators: There are many natural predators of mice and rats, such as owls and cats. You can attract these pests to your property by providing food and shelter for them. This is a great way to keep the rodent population around your home in check.

Remember, while these unique methods can complement traditional preventive measures, it’s important to regularly inspect your home for vulnerabilities and maintain cleanliness.

a rat walks in the snow looking for food.


Will rats leave if your house is cold?

Rats are opportunistic and seek shelter in any place that provides warmth and safety, even if your home is cold. It’s more important to focus on eliminating potential entry points and preventing rodents from staying in your home.

What attracts rats to your house?

Rats are drawn to food sources and will visit your home if you have any exposed garbage or pet food. Additionally, rats love dark, warm places with plenty of hiding spots, such as attics and basements.

Will sleeping with lights on keep mice away?

Keeping lights on at night will not deter mice, as they prefer to come out when it is dark. They will find dark crevices to hide if your home is well-lit.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *