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Can Mice Climb Up Walls and Stairs? What You Need To Know!

Nicole Cosgrove

It probably won’t come as a surprise to those that have heard scurrying in the walls and the ceiling: mice are agile little creatures. They can climb vertical and near-vertical surfaces, like walls, as long as they are rough enough that they can get a grip.

Carpeted stairs are easily overcome, too. Although smooth wooden stairs with an overhanging lip can be a little more problematic, mice are also adaptable so can find a route up baseboards and they can shimmy up between two vertical surfaces. If the mouse really wants to get upstairs, it can be difficult to stop them.

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Can Mice Climb Walls and Stairs?

Wild mice are always on the lookout for warm spots to build nests, as well as reliable sources of food. They have sharp claws, are very strong for their tiny size, and can spot a traversable route. They also have a strong tail that acts as a balancing mechanism and when combined with the ability to flatten themselves against a vertical surface, it prevents them from easily falling off.

They are able to climb rough and porous surfaces and because of this combination of attributes they regularly climb interior and exterior walls. Wood, wallpaper, stucco, and brick are no obstacle for our whiskered pests, which means that most surfaces including interior walls and stairs do not prevent their march.

What Surfaces Can Mice Not Climb?

A surface must be completely smooth and vertical to prevent a mouse from climbing. Smooth metal, smooth plastic, and some smooth wood can make it impossible for a mouse to climb up or down, but if you’re considering installing these on your stairs, it’s worth noting that most of them would cause a slip hazard for humans. What’s more, you would have to ensure that the walls, baseboards, trims, and even the handrails are made from similar materials.

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Where Do Mice Hide During the Day?

Mice are nocturnal, which means that they are rarely seen during the day. This is also why we most often hear them scurrying around at night.

During the day, mice rest, and they choose well-concealed spots to do so. Look in the following locations during daylight hours, for signs of a mouse infestation:

  • Attics – not only are attics dark, but they tend to house items like old clothing, paper, bags, and other potentially great nesting sites. If mice have taken nest in your attic, they will likely have ripped any paper and fabric they can find to create a comfortable nesting material. There will be a smell of ammonia from their urine, too.
  • Basements – basements offer similar features to lofts. They can climb down through vents and pipes, or directly through your home. Look for torn paper and fabric, as well as signs of mouse droppings.
  • Kitchens and utilities – not only are kitchens a great source of potential food, but they will usually have a series of entrances suitable for mice. Utility rooms also have holes for pipework and ducts, offering egress to mice and even rats.
  • Cavity walls – cavity walls, especially those filled with insulation material, make good nesting sites for mice, and the wood and other materials tend to be rough and easy to traverse. As such, you can find mice inside the walls on any floor.

Will Sleeping With Lights On Keep Mice Away?

Lamp shade left on for the night
Image Credit: tookapic, Pixabay

Mice are nocturnal and will usually hide away during daylight hours, so it makes sense that leaving the lights on will deter them from running around your home. However, they are very good at finding pockets of darkness and skulking in shadows until the light goes out. The better solution is to first determine that you have an infestation and then look for ways to control it.

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How To Humanely Get Rid Of Mice

Before calling in vermin control, there are some steps you can take to try and get rid of mice, humanely, from your home.

  • Ensure the kitchen and dining room are clean. Food left on worktops is an easy target. Similarly, clean up leftover food from teenage bedrooms, and check under beds.
  • Dog food and even cat food will attract rodents. Even if you got a cat to help deter mice, you could actually be attracting them by leaving dry kibble down at night.
  • Seal your waste bags and close your bin lids. Full and open bins are easy for mice to get into and out of. Swing lids may prevent the mouse from getting out but do not do as good a job of preventing them from getting in.
  • Mice hate the smell of peppermint. They also strongly dislike the smell of ammonia, but you have to be desperate to get rid of mice in order to put up with the smell yourself.
  • Work out how the mice are getting in and close off their entry points. This could mean sealing around pipes and filling in holes and cracks in walls.
  • Live traps capture mice without harming them, so that you can release them outside. If you do use humane traps, you have to check regularly, though, because mice can die after a few hours with no water.
  • Use a smooth-sided plastic bucket and put some peanut butter in the bottom. Fashion some form of rodent steps on the outside of the bucket, but make sure the inside is too smooth to be able to climb out of.
  • Once you’ve captured your mice, release them. To ensure that they survive, you need to release them near your home so that they can find other sources of food that they have identified in the past. Release them too far away, and they will likely starve. As long as you’ve secured holes in the wall and prevented mice from getting in, they won’t be able to get back in your house.

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Can Mice Climb Up Walls and Stairs

Mice are agile, strong for their size, and equipped with sharp claws and balancing tails. They can climb most vertical surfaces, except for those that are perfectly smooth and non-porous. As such, they can climb up most interior and exterior walls and make short work of stairs. Take steps to prevent mice getting into your home or employ the services of professionals to do it for you because leaving the lights on won’t prove an effective deterrent.


Featured Image Credit: Hans, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.