House Mice

OVERVIEW

The house mouse, one of the most detrimental pests in the United States, is second only to humans as the most common mammal in cities across the nation. House mice are notorious nibblers who climb, jump, and swim in order to get to their favorite foods, which are often found in houses, farms, open fields, and commercial buildings. They are curious and fearless creatures that will chew through walls, electrical cables, and storage containers in order to get what they want.
The house mouse is the most successful rodent in adapting to live with people. It is found almost anywhere people are, feeding on human food, sheltering in human structures, and reproducing at a remarkable rate. It is the most troublesome and economically important vertebrate pest, contaminating untold millions of dollars worth of food, damaging possessions, and causing electrical fires with its constant gnawing.

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Biology & Behavior

The most common household rodent is the house mouse. This mouse has large ears, a pointed muzzle, and a slender body. The tail is unicolored, has little hair, and is about as long as the head and body combined. ​Adults weight 0.5 and 0.75 ounce and the combined length of the head and body are 2.5 to 3.5 inches long. The tail measures between three and four inches long. The feces are rod shaped, 0.125 to 0.25 inch long. ​Although house mice are commonly found living in structures built by humans, they are also well adapted to living outdoors. They are common inhabitants of grassy fields and cultivated grain crops. Wild populations often move into buildings when weather becomes severe. The house mouse has poor vision and is colorblind. Mice have keen senses of smell, taste, hearing, and touch. They use their sense of smell to locate food items and recognize other individual mice. ​Mice use their long, sensitive whiskers on the nose and above the eyes as tactile sensors. The whiskers and guard hairs enable the mice to travel easily in the dark. House mice feed on a wide range of foods, although cereals seem preferred over other items. Most mice favor grains. Supplemental food items include foods high in fat and protein, such as lard, butter, nuts, and dried meats. ​The two main feeding periods of mice are at dusk and dawn. Because of their small size, mice must feed several times during a 24 hour period. This means that they are active day and night. Their range is normally 10-30 feet from the nest.

Diseases

Damage

Domestic rodents contaminate food by defecation, destroy structures by gnawing, transmit diseases, and harbor parasites hazardous to humans and animals. Some of the diseases that rodents convey to humans are plague, murine typhus, infectious jaundice, poliomyelitis, food poisoning, rat bite fever, and rabies. Mice chew wires which create fire hazards.

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