Do Mice Go Upstairs?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: October 31, 2022
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We all know that mice love to enter a home from the ground floor. Basements are the perfect place to get in and set up a mouse nest. However, that’s not the only place mice like to live in homes. They can find their way into kitchens, the gaps in walls, and even ceilings. Yet, do mice go upstairs? That’s a good question to ask. We’ll look at this question and see if mice go upstairs and why they would and wouldn’t.  

Do Mice Climb Well?

Before we consider whether mice even bother to go upstairs, let us consider whether they have the necessary tools. Do mice even climb well? Yes, they are very adept climbers despite being very small and having even smaller feet.  

In fact, mice can even climb walls depending on the material they’re made from. These mice have small toes and claws on the end of them. All they need is a small imperfection on the surface, and they’ll have no problem using their claws to pull themselves up. Mice can typically scale brick, vinyl, wood, concrete, stucco, and other surfaces.  

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That means they can climb up the walls of a house from the inside or the outside. Now, let’s examine whether they go upstairs or prefer these areas.

Do Mice Go Upstairs?

pet mouse on a branch

Mice are adept climbers that still prefer the easiest path to food.

©Miroslav Hlavko/

Yes, mice go upstairs, but they are not as frequently found on the upper levels of a home compared to the lower levels. The reason for this occurrence is rather simple, too. When mice are looking for a place to nest, they need some of the following traits:

  • Warmth
  • Safety
  • A lack of human and animal contact
  • Access to water
  • Access to food

Mice need the shelter of your home more than anything, and they aren’t particular about where they get it. Think about the different parts of your house’s structure. Some of them offer all these things in close quarters, even if they are upstairs.

Why Mice Prefer the Lower Levels of a Home

Mice prefer the downstairs portions of a home to the upstairs portions of a home. Mice will nest on the ground floor of a home or in the basement more frequently than in attics and upstairs walls and ceilings.

The reasons are simple. First, they don’t have to climb a long way to get to their nest. Also, ground levels and basements are close to food. Lastly, the ground floors provide them with a variety of places to hide that is not often disturbed. When was the last time you went behind your water heater in the basement compared to a kitchen cabinet?

Looking at the average home, it’s clear that the lower levels will be more appealing to mice. After all, they offer the easiest way to get into the home and provide the easiest access to food. Most kitchens are on the first level of the home, and so are the majority of pantries.

Mice can sneak into a home at the base level and have complete access to all the food they could want. Moreover, the ground level and the basement also present other benefits to the mouse. For starters, the basement is often the easiest to get to. Sometimes, they have a direct entrance via a door, small hole, or window.

Also, mice may not be the smartest animals on the planet, but they know enough to avoid pets. Most cats and dogs won’t spend time in an unfinished basement, and most humans don’t spend a lot of time in the basement.

Thus, the basement or an area of the first floor that is rarely traveled makes the perfect place for a mouse nest. These features make the lower levels of a home perfect for a mouse to enter. After all, mice usually build their nests within 30 feet of their food source.

Why Mice May Go Upstairs

Even though basements and ground-level rooms are certainly beneficial to mice, they may still go upstairs. Mice have to prioritize their safety over all other things, and that often means having a warm place to go in the winter. If they can’t get into a house from the ground level, they’ll go higher to get inside.

Many homes have holes or openings around the roof, giving mice perfect access to the upper levels of the house. Once they’re in the attic of a home, they’ll use insulation as nesting materials and keep themselves warm. However, they are not very close to food in this area. As a result, you can frequently hear the mice scampering around during the night and early morning hours when they’re most active.

They will leave their nests to find food and then return to rest. So, does that mean that mice can get into your home through the attic and get into your upstairs bedroom? Technically, yes. However, mice do not like to go to areas where they are likely to be disturbed. Bedrooms are often occupied, frequently cleaned, and lack the hidden areas they desire. As a result, mice aren’t very likely to settle into an upstairs bedroom, but it’s possible.

The Most Likely Places to Find Mice

Pet Mice

You’re most likely to find mice on lower levels of a home, particularly close to food sources.

©Rudmer Zwerver/

Mice will most likely enter a home on the ground floor or basement. That way, they can be close to your food supplies while still staying out of the way and spending little energy traveling. The vast majority of mice are found on the lower levels of a home.

However, they can also enter the home by scaling the outside and gnawing or squeezing their way into the attic or any crawlspaces. Mice will certainly seek shelter inside when they can, but they are less likely to be found in the upper levels of the home.

Do mice go upstairs? Sure, they go upstairs when they need to, but they are most likely to be found skulking downstairs. If you are trying to shore up your defenses, it’s a good idea to start from the lowest level of your home and work your way up.  

Why You Should Get Rid of Mice

Do mice go upstairs? Yes, they do. That means you might find a diminutive mammal making a wild dash for safety once you open your bedroom door. But does it really matter since they’re pretty tiny and have a preference for avoiding confrontation?

Yes, it does matter. A great deal in fact. Mice can transmit hantavirus, listeria, and salmonellosis through their saliva and droppings. Like their fellow rodents, they also share a penchant for destructive behavior which means that autographed magazine or your prized collection of comic books, might be in danger of getting shredded for nesting material.

Your comfy upholstered chair may not be quite safe either, and neither might that box of chocolates set aside for an especially rewarding cheat day. Especially since that unwanted lodger might set to either with a will – and those determined gnashers.

Hence you might need to resort to the intimidating presence of a tabby or two, the strategic placement of a few traps, or call in pest control to save the day.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Rudmer Zwerver/

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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