The inside of your piano is the perfect place to raise a family. It's dark, quiet, and has plenty of nooks and crannies. Pianos are climate-controlled and there are plenty of wooden components to gnaw, too! Might not sound like a great place for you to live, but for a mouse? It's heaven!
Yep. Mice in pianos. Yikes, right?
If a piano is kept in quiet storage and not maintained, it can attract attention from tiny non-musical creatures. There's plenty of space for them to sneak into the instrument, and more than enough for them to set up a cozy home.
If you were a mouse, it'd be hard to resist getting comfy inside a piano!
They can really damage the instrument, too.
Rodents like mice have long incisors that never stop growing, so they have to gnaw to keep them trimmed. Pianos have hundreds of wooden components, all of which are delicious.
The felt on the hammers makes great nesting material, too.
And let's not forget that mice don't smell so great, either. Live or dead.
Our resident piano expert has met his fair share of Mickey Mice on maintenance jobs:
- He was called to work on a piano that hadn't been touched in a long time. Maybe the owners decided it was finally time to learn how to play, or perhaps they were trying to sell it. Who knows. Either way, when the tech opened the lid, mice came shooting out and zoomed across the rug.
- "The keys won't go down! What's going on under there?" came the plaintive call. A mouse nest, that's what! Most piano keys are made of wood, and a family of mice gnawed a little hole for a well-ventilated little home.
- The piano technician performed an annual checkup on a piano that was kept in a summer home. The people who owned the place only visited for a few weeks out of the year, but otherwise left the building vacant and unmaintained. "There's this weird clunking sound when I play the piano. Can you figure out what's inside?" An especially clever band of mice noticed that piano strings made a perfect little food storage pantry, so they wedged in plenty of seeds, leaves, and other tasty snacks for later.
He has plenty more stories, but these were some of the most memorable. It's enough to make even mouse-lovers shudder!
We sympathize with you, Tom Cat.
So how do you know you have mice in your piano?
Same way you'd discover mice anywhere else in your home. You'll either see the mouse itself or its, um, evidence.
Honestly though, unless you keep the instrument outside, in a barn, or other secluded area and very rarely play the instrument, it's probably home to nothing scarier than dust bunnies.
How can you prevent mice in the first place?
Most advice for keeping mice out of homes is to seal up all cracks and openings. As impossible as this is for a house, it's even more impossible for a piano. You simply can't seal it up. Air needs to move in and out of the piano freely, otherwise it would sound just terrible, if it made any sound at all!
Be careful not to eat near your piano, since food is a well-known attractant for pests.
It's not always a matter of cleanliness, though. Some buildings just have ample opportunity for rodent problems. If you work with a church, school, have a very old house, or keep pet birds, you know what I'm talking about.
But the good news is that you probably won't have to call an exterminator. If you maintain, tune, or even just play your piano once in awhile, critters won't want to set up camp.