Do mice hibernate in the winter? If not, where do they go and what do they do? While many animal species do hibernate in the winter, or enter some degree of dormancy, mice are not among them. Instead, mice stay active all winter and keep foraging for food as needed. They do seek out warm places in which to hole up when they are not searching for food.
Where Do Mice Go During the Winter?
There are several different species of mice, each with its own habits and abilities that inform where it seeks shelter from the cold during the winter. For example, brown mice are very adept at climbing. In the wild, they may scale tall trees looking for small holes in the trunk in which they can make a nest and spend most of the winter.
Other species of mice aren’t able to climb, but they are able to dig. These mice make burrows under the ground to protect them from the cold and build their nests underground. They have to get an early start on this, however, because once the weather turns cold enough for the ground to freeze, the mice are no longer able to move the dirt effectively. Therefore, they start digging their burrows during the fall when the air is starting to turn colder but the ground is still soft. Once they have excavated burrows, as well as tunnels by which to access them, they can continue using them all winter to go out to find food and then return to their nests. Sometimes the openings to their holes may be covered up by snow, but this is soft enough for the mice to dig through and does not deter them.
Mice look for places to build nests that are warm. In many cases, that means seeking shelter inside homes as the weather turns colder. In addition to warmth, human habitations often offer easy access to food. Mice are omnivorous and opportunistic, so if they find a source of food that they do not have to go out into the cold to get, they will take advantage of it. It may not be difficult for mice to get into your home in the first place because they have the ability to squeeze through very small cracks and openings.
Where Do Mice Nest Inside Homes?
Mice have the same basic needs as other animals do, especially food and water. When they get into your home, they may be likely to build nests in the areas where these are most readily available. Therefore, you may be likely to find them in the areas where you store your food, such as a pantry or cabinets. If there is a long-term food storage area that is less frequently disturbed, mice may be more likely to make their homes there. Mice also have a need for water and may be more likely to make their homes where they will be able to access it easily. In a house, this may be the basement or crawlspace as gravity draws water toward the lowest part of the building.
However, mice are also prey animals that prefer to hide from potential predators. Therefore, they like to build nests in quiet areas of the house where humans are unlikely to go or visit very infrequently. In many homes, the attic is used only for storage space if at all. Mice are especially likely to build nests here if they climb up into the house and gain access from the roof. Mice also frequently build nests in wall voids, which are not only inaccessible to humans but also full of soft insulation that can make good nesting material.