Understanding the Hibernation Patterns of Mice

How do house mice hibernate in the winter? Some animals are popularly known for their hibernation patterns, but did you ever wonder if mice also do this? In a way, rodents go through a state of winter torpor. This is when they conserve energy when the cold months roll in.

Is winter torpor the same as hibernation? This happens to rodents when they have a significant drop in their body temperature. Their metabolic rate is also affected, making them able to survive the cold without having to eat or drink.

Mice will often develop thicker fur and hibernacula, and they will adapt to huddling to further survive the cold climate. It’s not so much hibernating, as they simply huddle together and go into a sleep-like state for energy conservation.

Adapting to the Cold Weather

Mammals have found a way to adapt to the sudden cold weather. You would expect squirrels and, more popularly, bears to go into hibernation, but many are still surprised that rodents can go into the same state.

During the cold season, rodents do more than just sleep; they also devise strategies to survive. One way they do this is by storing food and also making sure that their nets and living areas are warm enough to sleep in.

Mice don’t just fall into deep sleep, as they will also need physical protection from the harsh weather. You might notice that they would start collecting food and bringing items into their nests in preparation for winter torpor.

How Mice Enter the Winter Torpor State

Mice generally stay warm under the snow in the winter because they enter the winter torpor state when they start to notice a decrease in temperature. Their bodies then start to produce a protein that signals them that it’s time to enter torpor. When the mice are well into the torpor state, their bodies become unresponsive to stimuli.

The metabolism falls to 90% and this enables the mice to survive for long periods without having to eat or drink. One of the biggest differences between the winter torpor of rodents and other mammals is that the former can only last for hours or days.

You can say that rodents don’t hibernate as traditionally as other mammals do. However, they do this to survive the cold weather and maintain their body temperature. The homes or nets that they create for this state are called hibernacula.

Underground Burrows

Mice will often create their nets or hibernacula, underground. They will create burrows and fill them with items that could help make the surroundings warm. The burrows are small and snug enough for them to spend the cold weather in.

These little critters are tougher than you think, as they can survive for months without having to eat food or drink water. When the rodents have stocked up for their winter torpor, they no longer need to go out and about to scavenge for food.

The adaptation response of mice is strong, and they will not only grow thicker fur to stay warm, but they will also huddle together for comfort. Thanks to the unique biology of rodents. They can use this to their advantage when they don’t want to go out during the cold and will wait around for spring.

What Happens to Mice Indoors?

Now that you know how mice experience winter torpor, you might be concerned about where indoor rodents go once the temperatures drop. Unlike wild rodents, indoor mice are usually those that you find scurrying around your kitchen.

These types of rodents will look for cracks and crevices, usually around the doorways. You can even find them in cracks in your home’s foundations. What’s worrisome is that some rodents come from the outside and, seeking warmth, will often carry diseases, parasites, and harmful organisms with them.

If you want to know where mice hide during the cold season, you should try to check your attics, crawl spaces, and small spaces in your walls. Most rodents will look for cracks that are small enough for them to fit in.

Unwanted Damage

What homeowners worry about is getting their property damaged because of the mice’s activity. Once the rodents get inside your home for the winter, they can begin chewing on your furniture, storage boxes, and even support beams.

It doesn’t stop there, since mice will also chew on wires and insulation in homes. It can be problematic, especially when you have no way of rodent control. You will end up with damaged wires, walls, and roofs and deal with more garbage inside your home.

Rodents like these can go through your trash and then spread their contaminated bodies all over your house. Not to mention that rodent droppings and saliva can also pose health risks. This is why you would want to know where these rodents are hiding before they enter winter torpor.

Hazards of Mice Building Nests Indoors

Mice can start building nests in your basement, attic, under appliances, walls, and even in your ductwork. In some cases, your car could also be affected, as rodents can build nests in the air filter or under the hood. One way to avoid this is to avoid leaving food and crumbs in your car where mice could detect them.

These nests become hazards because they can create fire and destroy your home or car. You will know that the nests are near when you see droppings and urine leading up to the nest. These droppings are often found on countertops and around baseboards.

A good way to determine whether you have mice hiding in your home is to keep an ear out for any noises. Mice will make sounds when they run and sometimes you can hear small, rushing steps in your kitchen area.

What to Do to Protect Your Home

One of the best ways to deal with mice that are prepared for winter torpor is to call professional pest control services. These are experts who have experience and knowledge about how to effectively remove pests.

They know where the mice are hiding and how to coax them out without using dangerous procedures. You can also ask them about things like, Do mice hibernate in the winter? Because they will know and can give you advice on making your home pest-free.