Even given your best efforts, having a mouse or rat (or worse – more than one) in your home can sometimes be out of your control. Both urban and suburban homes are at risk of having a rodent infestation based on many factors such as other pets, unclean/unsanitary living situations, easy access to safe hiding places, neighboring nests and a number of other seemingly welcome invites. Regardless of how they entered your home, knowing that they are there can be very unsettling and will bring up many questions.
First and foremost, you may be weighing your options on how to rid yourself of these unwanted guests, but in the meantime – are you safe to sleep in your own home while they roam freely?
Because rats/mice carry various bacteria and diseases (e.g. hantavirus, leptospirosis, and salmonella) it is unsafe (long-term) to sleep in the same house or room in which they are present. Call an exterminator, and pick up traps from your local hardware store.
As you march headfirst into a Nutcracker-esque battle with the rat king and his mice minions, let’s look at some essential questions to address and the safety threat that these tiny little creatures can carry into your once-happy abode.
Can Rats/Mice Jump into Your Bed?
Short answer: Yes
Threat level: Medium to high. These agile animals have the ability to climb, jump, and squeeze their way into places they most certainly do not belong, starting with your home and including your bed. The good news is that they are not searching your bed for ways to catch you at your weakest moment. If a rat/mouse jumps into your bed, they are likely just exploring and looking for new sources of food or shelter. With a jump height of about a foot, a mouse can easily jump and scale its way into pretty much anywhere.
How to avoid it: A rat/mouse usually only finds its way into your home because it believes there is food available, and they return or stay because they have found success. The best way to keep them from searching (or returning to) your room is by keeping all food products out. This means no eating in bed or at your desk. You may not notice crumbs or pieces that drop, but a scavenger quickly will. Additionally, strong scents like peppermint oil are safe for humans but can help deter a rat/mouse from breaching your bed. I personally use an ASAKUKI 400ml Essential Oil Diffuser (link to Amazon) as my go to essential oils diffuser. And some specialized Peppermint Oil for Repealing Mice/Rodents (link to Amazon). Both of these products have helped me to create an excellent barrier from rodents trying to nest in my room, and especially deterring them from making there way on to my bed. And I love the smell, which is a plus!
Do Rats/Mice Attack You in Your Sleep?
Short Answer: No
Threat level: Low to medium. Wild mice/rats typically only bite or attack when they feel threatened. This can only happen if you attempt to handle them with aggression. That being said, if they happen to walk across you and you wake up, the ensuing panic from both of you may lead to a defensive scratch or bite. Other than that, they are not vengeful creatures and don’t have reason to attack you while you are sleeping peacefully. Keep in mind that, while curious, they’re likely to be more afraid of you than you are of them.
How to avoid it: As mentioned before, you want to ensure that your bedroom is free of anything that can be deemed as food, including something as simple as clothing stained by food. Knowing that you may have a mouse/rat problem, if you happen to find one in your bed with you, try to remain calm and do not attempt to handle it with your bare hands. A broom and a box are an excellent quick solution for a rat/mouse who gets too close for comfort.
Can I Get Rid of Rats/Mice Permanently?
Short answer: Yes, but there’s a “BUT.”
Threat level: Low. There are a lot of options for removing rats and mice from your home that you can easily find online or by contacting your local pest control services. If you feel that the problem has escalated from one or two critters to an entire family, it may be worth consulting a professional service to aid you. The most important part is ensuring that your family and pets are safe from any measures that you take to be free of the freeloaders, keeping in mind that an option like rat poison is poisonous for everyone. I highly recommend using Pest Control Rat Traps (link to Amazon) as a safe alternative to rat poison, and a better working product in terms actually being able to kill rodents on the first try. (Source)
How to avoid them in the future: Here’s where the “But” comes in. Yes, you can find both humane (and slightly more gruesome) ways of removing vermin from your home, but they always have the potential to come back. While it may be safe to sleep with a mouse or rat in your home for a night or two until you find a solution, you will want to consider why they are there in the first place. A great place to start when trying to rodent-proof your house is by making sure that all of your consumable items are protected and safe from mouse/rat penetration. (Source)
Can Rats/Mice Make Me Sick While I’m Asleep?
Short answer: Yes
Threat level: High. Even if a rat or mouse does not scale your bed, traverse across your sleeping body, or bite your unprotected toes, they still bring along other health issues. Both mice and rats can carry lice, ticks, mites, or fleas, bringing them into your home and bedroom where they can spread. Not only will this affect you and other members of your family, but it will also affect any pets that you have in the house. This leaves you with not one, but multiple pests that you need to exterminate. If you don’t have pets due to allergies, it is important to know that rats/mice can cause the same allergic reaction as other animals.
How to avoid it: In addition to rodent pest removal, you should ensure that your home is up to date with other pest extermination treatments. If you do have pets, be sure to have them treated regularly for fleas and ticks. If you spot a rat/mouse in your home, be sure to check your pets for ticks, mites, or fleas. Additionally, you may want to check each member of the family and each bed or couch.
What Should I Do If I Can’t Get to Sleep with A Rat/Mouse?
Short answer: Find refuge in a hotel or friend’s house
Threat level: High. One problem with seeing a rat/mouse in your home is that it means that you have cracks. The likelihood of seeing one and that being the end of the story is slim. Where one has found a way, many more will also. For your safety and sanity, relocating while you solve the problem may be your most effective solution. Keep in mind that these little critters typically make their homes in dark places that you won’t be able to see, and can have a lifespan of up to three years.
When to make the move: If you see a rat or mouse during the day, that’s usually a brazen sign that they have happily taken over, and there are likely quite a few of them roaming around. The same goes for increased sightings of droppings. If each little sound that you hear makes you fear for the worst, it’s best to call a professional and pack a bag ASAP.
Can I Sleep In My Room After A Rat/Mouse Extermination?
Short answer: No
Threat level: High. Even after you have hired a professional to do the dirty work, your job is not yet done. During its short time of residency, a rat/mouse will have done a fair share of damage, including leaving its waste behind on your bed, clothing, carpets, walls. Even once the animal is gone, the illness and disease can still be transferred from the droppings that are left behind.
How to avoid it: After an exterminator has come and gone, you will need to decontaminate your home including, and especially, your room. All clothing, pillows, and sheets should be washed thoroughly, as well as floors and walls. It’s also a good idea to speak with the exterminator who may be able to show you where the perpetrators got in and how to seal any gaps to prevent them from coming in again.
Your Health Is A Concern
Because of the various diseases that rodents carry with them, you don’t want to sleep on a mouse/rat problem. As they traipse through your pantry, they not only eat your food, but they also leave behind fecal matter. These rodent droppings could lead to bacterial illnesses including, but not limited to:
- E. Coli
- Weil’s disease
- Typhus fever
Even if your physical safety isn’t at risk, consider the health concerns that having even one mouse in the house can pose. While you’re sleeping, a mouse or rat may be foraging through your food or your pet’s food, leaving disease in its tracks. (Source)
It is a common fear to see a rat/mouse scurrying around, and is an entirely understandable concern. One or two nights may be unavoidable, but for the safety of your health and sleep patterns, it’s best to avoid allowing rodents to make your house their home.