It can be challenging to tell for sure if you have a mouse infestation at home because mice are difficult to spot. This isn’t just because they’re tiny and scurry away quite fast. It’s also because they choose the right time to go out of their nests in the walls to make sure no one sees them.
That’s why you might not see a mouse face-to-face even when you so obviously have an infestation in your home. They try not to come out when they’re visible to people and choose quieter, darker times of the day to scavenge the home for food.
But do mice come out during the day, or do they stay cooped up before going out and about in the nighttime? Today, we’ll talk about what time of the day mice come out, what they do when the sun’s out, and how to spot a mouse infestation even if mice hide in the daytime.
Do Mice Come Out More in the Day or at Night?
Mice are innately nocturnal creatures. That means they’re more comfortable going out and exploring in the nighttime, not during the day. Instead of scurrying about all day, they’ll wait until the sun goes down and look for food when it’s pitch dark.
Homes are much quieter and less threatening at night. People and their pets are asleep, so it gives mice a chance to wander around unnoticed. If you happen to get up at night and head downstairs to the kitchen is probably the only time you’ll notice a rat in your home.
If you do see a mouse out and about in broad daylight hours, this is probably because it is so desperate to find food. Mice need to eat every few hours. If there’s not enough food in their nests, they’ll have to go out of their crawl spaces to look for more.
Most mice, however, will only go out during the day if they’ve found a safe route that they can travel to go from their nest to a food source and back. If not, they’ll wait until dusk before they move around again until dawn.
Reasons Why Mice Come Out More Often at Night
Mice know not to go outside of their nests and hiding spots when there are bright lights, people talking, and lots of noise outside. They know that they’re safer hidden until the sun goes down. But why? Here are the three reasons why mice come out more at night instead of during the day:
1. They know that “lights off” means sleeping time for humans
Mice are quite intelligent. They know that at some point during the night, people will turn off the lights and go to sleep. Even their pets will sleep when the lights are off, too. So, mice know that this is the best time to go out and about without anyone catching them.
This is the time of the night they go out and look for food undisturbed. They’ll rummage through garbage bins and other areas of your house where they might find food and water, like the kitchen. They’ll also scavenge for nesting materials, like grass, cotton, and shredded paper during this time.
2. It helps them avoid predators
Exploring at night makes it more difficult for these predators to see a mouse—that is, if they’re even awake. This increases their chances of survival.
3. They are sensitive to UV light
Aside from protecting themselves, mice also prefer to go out at night because it’s much more comfortable for their vision.
Studies have shown that mice are a lot more sensitive to ultraviolet light than humans are. And as you may know, the sun is a major source of UV rays. It’s estimated that half of all the UV radiation we get each day happens from 10 AM to 4 PM when the sun is out.
Aside from this, mice are also good at adjusting their eyesight to see better in the dark as opposed to when there are bright lights during the day. After all, they are naturally nocturnal beings.
So, Where Do Mice Go During the Day?
We’ve already established that mice prefer to stay in during the day and then head out only at night. But where do the mice actually go when the sun’s still out and people are around? Here are some answers to that question.
1. They sleep in their nests
To bide their time during the day, mice will often stay in their nests and sleep. That way, they can save their energy for when their real work begins at nighttime.
They may also use this time to take care of their babies. Using the nesting materials they gathered the night before, they’ll build comfy nests using twigs and other materials for their young. They’ll also watch over their offspring to ensure they don’t escape and explore the world during the day.
2. They hide in dark, hard-to-reach crevices in your home
If they sense that there are people around in the home, they’ll stay quiet and hide in the small cracks and crevices of your home. Mice are known to live in walls, cabinets that are barely opened, and even behind huge furniture and appliances, like an oven.
They might also set up their mouse nest in places that people don’t usually check, such as air vents and bathroom pipes. Places that aren’t visited by humans often, such as basements, garages, and attics, are also among their favorite places to find shelter.
Watch this video to learn about other areas in your home where mice might be curling up and hiding without you knowing:
3. They adapt to when there’s foot traffic
As we’ve mentioned before, mice are very intelligent creatures. They’re observant and understand when there is more foot traffic in your home and adapt to that information.
So, although mice like to come out only at night, they may spend time outside in daylight hours if they know there’s no one home. Mice that have been living in your home for a while know your regular schedule, and they’ll use that to their advantage if they want to go out during the day.
For example, early mornings are usually busy for households. It’s when parents are getting ready for work and kids are eating breakfast before school. But once the family heads out for the day, the house is quiet and undisturbed.
This is when a mouse knows it can come out of its crawl space and not feel threatened. In the hours until the family comes home, it will rummage through food sources and get all the nesting materials it needs before heading back and hiding again before people come back.
Signs That You Have a Mouse Infestation
Because mice only tend to come out at night, it’s very easy to miss the signs of an infestation. You need to look extra closely at your surfaces for things that point to a mouse problem. Here are the tell-tale signs of mice in your home, even if you don’t see any of them face-to-face:
- Mouse droppings and urine in random corners of the house
- A strong ammonia odor, possibly from their urine as well
- Damage to your electrical wiring and walls because rats have been nibbling on them
- Nests made of shredded paper, grass, cotton balls, and other soft material
- Squeaks and scratching noises from your floorboards, ceiling, and walls
- Damage to packaged foods and boxes of pantry supplies
- Foul smells, which can be a sign of a dead mouse somewhere in the home
Check out this quick video to see more signs that you might have a mouse infestation in your home:
If you’ve noticed one or more of these signs in your home, contact a pest control professional immediately. They will know the right course of action to take to treat your home and get rid of the mice. They’ll do this by helping you set up mouse traps and sealing their potential entry points.
Mice and rats, like other rodents, are nocturnal creatures. They’ll stay curled up in their nests in the morning and come out at night. This is to protect themselves from people, predators, and UV light that can harm their eyes.
But that doesn’t mean they never go out during the day. Sometimes, if they sense that your home is quiet in the daytime, they won’t hesitate to come out and grab some food. But most of the time, they’ll stay hidden in your walls, attic, basement, and other hard-to-reach areas.
It can be hard to tell if you have a mouse infestation in your home if your mice are smart and only come out at night. Keep your eyes peeled for signs of an infestation, like mice urine and droppings. If you see any of these, make sure to call a pest control service right away to address the issue.