Mouse Nest: What Do They Look Like And What To Do If You Find One?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: October 25, 2023
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A mouse infestation is something that everyone worries about. Mice will ruin your food, leave droppings and urine around your home, and could transmit diseases to you or your pets. Oftentimes, the first step in discovering that you have an infestation is finding a mouse nest. That means that you likely have more than one mouse in your home. So, what does a mouse nest look like, and what do you do if you find one?

We’ll show you how to identify a nest and what steps you need to take if you do see one.

Why Do Mice Build Nests?

baby mouse litter

Nests are used as homes for baby mice.

©Jennifer Thornhill/

First, we must understand why mice build nests in the first place. The reason is pretty simple. Mice build nests, so they have a place to keep them warm and safe. This is especially important when they are in places that are not heated in the winter, like basements and garages.

Mice also use their nests to store the food they scavenge throughout the day. Moreover, mice also use nests as a place to keep their young. Baby mice are blind and helpless for the first few weeks of their lives. Adult mice keep their young in these nests to keep them warm and care for them in those critical early weeks. Mice would go back to a disturbed nest, as far as their young are still there.

These functions of nests should also give you some idea of where you are most likely to find nests.

Where You’ll Find Mouse Nests in Your Home

A family of house mice eating spilled cereal off the floor

Mice like to build their nests close to their food supplies.


Mouse nests are the creatures’ lifelines. They stock their food and protect their young. That means you are not likely to find them out in the open. Instead, they are going to be in a bunch of out-of-the-way areas around your home.

So, where can you find mouse nests? They are most likely going to be in places that you rarely travel to. For example, you can find mouse nests in:

  • Attics
  • Basements
  • The gaps in ceilings
  • Cabinets
  • Unused drawers
  • Inside old appliances
  • Inside walls
  • Piles of debris
  • Overgrown fields

These are some of the most popular areas where you will find mice nests inside. However, they don’t just live inside of homes. Mice also nest outside in areas where they feel safe. You can often find mouse nests in places with dense plant growth that hides them from predators, like fields.

With this in mind, we need to explore what a mouse nest looks like so you can recognize one in your home.  

What Does a Mouse Nest Look Like?

Northern Grasshopper Mouse babies in nest (Onychomys leucogaster)

Mouse nests take on many appearances, but they are usually round.

©Liz Weber/

Mouse nests are round and measure anywhere between 3 and 6 inches in diameter, and they are made of various materials that can make their appearances vary. Sometimes, mouse nests are made of grass, cotton, vinyl, plastic, cloth, paper product scraps, and more.

Mouse nests can be made of a single material, or they can be made of many. For example, a very common material that mouse nests are made from is grass. That means a very common type of mouse nest will be brown, bushy, and relatively small.

Mouse nests are easy to identify after you’ve spotted one. It’s not only the materials and the mice that you’ll notice. Mice leave behind a lot of droppings, especially in areas where they are nesting and consuming their foods. Also, you’ll see streaks where the mice have urinated.

That means when you may smell the presence of a nest before you find the nest in your home. Yet, you can also find the presence of a nest by looking for mouse droppings and urine stains.

Now that you know what mouse nests look like, it’s time to learn what to do about it.

What to Do If You Find a Mouse Nest

You must get rid of a mouse nest and clean the area.


If you find a mouse nest, you need to put on a pair of gloves, pick up the nest, and put it in a large container like a bucket. Next, you need to make sure the nest is empty. That means you need to exterminate the mice in it, or you need to give them the chance to run away.

You do not want to handle the nest with your bare hands and without a mask. Mice are carriers of all sorts of diseases, including the hantavirus. Furthermore, you don’t want to corner a mouse without giving it a way out. They’re small, but mice will bite you. They can pass along diseases and cause infections by attacking you, so it’s best to give them room.

Once you have emptied the nest, it’s time to do away with it for good. Burn the nest if you are able. Make sure you stand back and wear a mask. After you have disposed of the nest, it’s time for you to clean the area in which you found it. That means going into the area with gloves on and cleaning up the droppings and urine by using bleach as a cleaning agent.

Once the area is sterilized, you need to find out how mice are getting into that area and put a stop to it. Filling in holes and gaps with caulk or steel wool can prevent mice from getting into your home or garage. If you think you have other mice in your home, then it’s time to get rid of them.  

How Do I Get Rid of Mice in My House?

Many approaches exist for getting rid of mice in your house. Generally, you have a few approaches including:

Each of these tools can be used in conjunction with each other to kill mice and prevent an infestation. Tackling an ongoing infestation will also use the same tools for the most part. However, not everyone is up for the task of safely removing a mouse nest from their home. Sometimes, it’s easier to call in professionals to help in this endeavor.

So, we have answered, what does a mouse nest look like, and what do you do when you find it? Now, it’s up to you to examine your home for signs of a nest and then take the next steps to get rid of it. This process can be gross and potentially unsafe, but it’s better than leaving the mice in your home or another building.  

How Do I Tell Mice Scat and Rat Scat Apart?

Mouse Poop vs Rat Poop - Rat Poop

Rat poop is larger in length and diameter than mice poop, and has more of a sausage shape.

©Photo – TMD/

In general, a mouse scat is a compact, small pellet with tapered ends similar to a grain of rice, and is dark brown or black in color. Rat poop is more sausage-like in shape, measuring from ½ to ¾ inch in length and can be about ¼ inch in diameter. Mouse pellets are smaller than a rat’s, ranging from ¼ to ½ inches in length. Both mice and rat droppings have a sharp, musky smell that is strong in areas where the droppings abound.

Mice poop 1-2 times a day, with the amount based on what they consumed. While mice may leave 80-160 droppings in a single day, rats drop less, with an average of 40-55 droppings. Mice and rats eat a variety of things so the amount of poop they deliver can vary based on their diet. If its diet is high in fiber, it will dispel larger bowel movements. A protein-based diet will equate to less waste at a lower frequency. While both rats and mice drop scat as they wander, mice droppings are usually more concentrated in an area they have designated as their “toilet.” They don’t like to defecate near where they sleep or feed.

As rodent poop can carry bacteria and viruses that are harmful to pets or humans such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Hantavirus, it’s important to clean up any droppings you may find in your house and disinfect the area.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Adrian Eugen Ciobaniuc/

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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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