Mice

All about the Different Types of Mice, Mouse Life Cycle, Identification, Facts & More

Mouse Taxonomy

Mouse History

Mouse Distribution Map

Mouse Identification

Mouse Anatomy

Types of Mice

Mouse Reproduction

Mouse Life Cycle

Mouse Habits

Effects of Weather on Mice

Mice Predators

Diseases from Mice

Facts About Mice

 

See also: Mouse Control

What are Mice?

Mice are tiny, hairy, mammals, big eyes, big ears, long tails, and pointed noses. The mouse is one of the smallest mammals in the world, found on every inhabitable continent. The mouse is primarily nocturnal with bad eyesight. Mice make up for this by having amazing remaining senses. They are also one of the most well-known rodents in the world. Mice are just like their close relative the rat, just smaller, occupying different niches outdoors, and sometimes the same in most indoor habitat situations.

Mice are known to be one of the most successful mammals in the world. Primarily for their resilience to being one of the most highly preyed on species from hawks, foxes, wolves, dogs, cats, reptiles, and even some arthropods. Being such a highly hunted animal, the mouse has adapted to seeking shelter, specifically near food sources where they do not have to travel long distances exposed. The rodents make up 40% of the mammal class.

Mouse Taxonomy

  • Kingdom: Animalia
    • This is the kingdom of all animals on the planet, or the multicellular complex organism group
  • Phylum: Chordata
    • This phylum encompasses the animals that have a bilateral body plan, and at some stage of life has a notochord, dorsal neural tube, pharyngeal slits, post anal tail, and a endostyle
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
    •  These animals all have backbones
  • Class: Mammalia
    • Means that the animals here have hair, sweat glands, and mammillary glands
  • Order: Rodentia
    • This order is characterized by having a pair of constantly developing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws
    • Known as the gnawing animals, for this reason the teeth are kept short by the constant need to gnaw.
  • Superfamily: Muroidea
  • Family: Muridae
  • Subfamily: Murinae
  • Genus: Mus
    • All members of the Mus genus are referred to as mice. However, the term mouse can also be applied to species outside of this genus. Mouse often refers to any small Muroid rodent, while rat refers to larger Muroid rodents. Therefore these terms are not taxonomically specific.

Mouse History

There are over 35 to 40 species of rodents including other genus’s and the Mus genus. The genus shows evidence of more speciation as years go by. The mice and mouse name covers over 1,000 or more mice and mice like species.

The term mouse is used commonly to name small Muroid rodents, which are a superfamily of rodents. The Muroid families are divided into six families, 20 subfamilies, around 275 to 285 genera, and at least 1250 to 1300 species. The most common “true” mouse is the house mouse, or scientifically known as Mus musculus species of rodents. The Latin behind the meaning of the rodent’s genius species name can be translated into “mouse, small mouse,” As for the house reference in the common name, it is derived from the house mouse being commonly found in the in homes, shelters, or buildings throughout the year. In different translations of the Latin word Mus, it is found in the Anglo-Saxton language to have derived from the Sanskrit word “musha” which means thief. This term suits the mouse became it is known as a scavenger.

The mouse has been highlighted throughout history by the Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and other civilizations. The ancient Greek people respected the mouse and considered it to be a tough animal. They associated the mouse with the god Apollo, best known as the god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, healing, plague, music, and poetry. Apollo was often called the Lord of the Mice, and Apollo the Mouse. Apollo was considered the god of disease and pestilence as some see the mouse as a carrier of numerous diseases. On the other hand the mouse was also seen as a healer much like the god Apollo. The mouse favored both characteristics of the god Apollo in stories.

The Egyptians are familiarly known for using animal heads in stories and artwork to symbolize their respected and most feared gods. The Egyptian people were very terrified of the mouse. They saw it as a creature of doom. It was said that the mouse as a destroyer and carrier of disease. The Egyptian people’s goddess known as “Sekhmet” was illustrated and described to be having a mouse’s head on top of a woman’s body. She was their goddess of pestilence. Archeologists have uncovered Egyptian ruins to find homes with rocks plugging holes to prevent the mice from entering. Even the ruins from the times of the great Pharaohs have signs of preventing mice from entering with plugged holes.

It was in later recorded in Egyptian history that mice were used in medicine. The medicine from mice was said to cure all kinds of serious illnesses to issues like hair loss. Since the mice were seen by people crawling from out of the ground it was seen to be a sign of rebirth or renewal. The people believed the mice were rising as new creatures. Mummified mice were found in the ancient pharaoh tombs.

In Roman history mice were seen as mighty, brave, and helpful. The most famous of roman legend is by Aesop’s “The Lion and The Mouse.” In this tale the mouse is almost killed and the lion saved the mouse. The lion then gets into several dangerous situations, and the mouse saves the lion countless times. Other tales of the mouse depicted it as a hard worker and full of respectable charisma.

In stories of Indonesian mythology, the mouse was a protector or guardian of the goddess of the rice crops. The local farmers of Indonesia are unwilling to harm mice so that the rice crop will be taken care of and unharmed. In Indonesia it is common to see mice being fed as a peace offering in temples.

In other historical writings from various societies depict the mouse in many ways. It is depicted as a beautiful and hardworking bride in Finnish tales. Then the mouse is depicted as a cook in Japanese tales. Mice then are written about as dancers in east African tales, and one of the wise kings in Indian tales.

These historical references only add to the value and weight of the mouse’s presence throughout time. The mouse is both honored and feared throughout time by the most intelligent creature on the planet, humans. The superior mighty mouse from these tales just might visit you on a cold night.

Where do Mice Come from?

It is said that the mouse, along with some other key rodents, originate from the central Asia region.  Mice then began to spread into various countries by human exploration, trade, and travel routes. The spread started in the Indian and western European trade route areas, then spread worldwide when sailing to travel and trade became popular. Due to the aid of humans, mice, along with other rodents and various insects, have been able to invade new environments. The mice of the Mus genus are among the most successful. The genus has established subspecies that are almost so well adapted to the unique environments that they are treated as completely different species. The house mouse has five distinct subspecies and three that are widely accepted all over the world. Mus musculus castaneus, is the House mouse located in the southern and southeastern Asia areas. The Mus musculus domesticus, is the species of House mouse located in western Europe, southwestern Asia, North America, South America, Africa, and Oceania. Then the next subspecies of House mouse is known as Mus musculus musculus is found in Eastern Europe and northern Asia. The next two sub species are the newest submissions to be subspecies of House mouse known as Mus musculus bactrianus and Mus musculus gentilulus. The first is found in central Asia, and the second is found on Madagascar. There are different populations throughout the world that are known to inner breed and form hybrids like the Mus musculus molossinus, which is the Japanese House Mouse. This is just an example of how well the mouse has adapted all over the world.
 

Mouse Distribution Map (Mouse Locations)

Mice can be found on every continent except Antarctica. The species is very territorial, so they are very particular of where they live and are in constant competition with its cousin the rat. Mice are generally afraid of rats, which often kill and eat mice, a behavior known as muricide. This happens throughout the world but in some cases they do live in harmony. The species native to New Zealand and North America share habitats.

The house mice are generally poor competitors, heavily preyed on, and in most areas cannot survive away from human homes and farms. They are often out-competed by other small mammals like wood mice, field mice, and other forest mice.

Mice in colder regions can be found thriving predominately indoors as opposed to outdoors. In the warmer, more tropic areas mice can be found thriving indoors and outdoors.
 

Mouse Identification and Mouse Morphology

The mice morphology is just like most typical rodents. The only difference is that they have a slightly elongated snout, tiny slightly protruding black eyes, with large, scarcely haired ears.  They are a brown to gray color and their belly is of a slightly lighter color. Both males and females have a similar coloration. 

Image source: Harvardpress.com

The average length of this species is approximately six or so inches from nose to the end of the tail.  The tail is commonly the same if not longer than the head and body region of the mouse. 
 

Mouse Anatomy

Mice have a well-developed anatomy. They come complete with the key systems like digestive system, cardiovascular system, nervous system, endocrine system, and reproductive system. They have complete and sharp sensory organs. The ears, nose, eyes, brain, tail and other nervous system organs are modified to be swift, due to how often the species is preyed on. Mice are bilaterally symmetrical, meaning that they have two symmetrical sides. The mouse the same organs as most mammals, like teeth, mouth, nose, esophagus, trachea, heart, aortic arch, lungs, diaphragm, liver, stomach, spleen, pancreas, pyloric sphincter, bile duct, duodenum, jejunum, ileum, cecum, descending colon, rectum, and anus. They also have hair, sweat glands, and mammillary glands which they use to feed the live born young. These features classify the rodents in the class with the most evolved class of animals known as the mammals. Mice in the wild rarely live past a year old and in captivity about 2-3 years. They are also known to have the most efficient reproductive system amongst the other rodent cousins and mammals.

Image source: nature.com

Image source: medillsb.com

Eyes:

  • Little or no colored vision
  • They can see just as well as humans, but the only difference is that the mouse retina has a greater density of UV light sensitive cone receptors (absence of light)

Pheromones:

  • Mice use pheromones to communicate
    • socially, defensively, marking territory, and mating
    • Jacobson's organ for detection
    • Male’s urine has a strong odor
    • Odors from adult males, and pregnant and lactating females can speed up sexual maturity of other females
    • Odors of unfamiliar male mice may terminate pregnancies
    • This explains why mice are so territorial

Sense of Touch:

  • Mice use whiskers to sense surfaces and air movements
  • Nose: The nose is pointed
  • Eyes: The eyes are large
  • Ears: The ears are large capable of folding over the eyes
  • Body: The body is tiny, averaging from 3-5 inches in length
  • Tail: The tail is always longer than the body
  • Feet: The feet are tiny in comparison to the rat
     

Types of Mice

House Mouse (Mus musculus)

  • 3 to 3.25 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 2.75 to 3 inches in length
  • Colors on the gray brown or yellow brown mixed
  • Belly is paler and lighter colored
  • Head is small, ears large and naked.
  • Tail is same length as the body and naked
  • Found commonly throughout the United States and southern Canada
  • As well as worldwide exception of Antarctica and originating from Asia
  • Subspecies:
    • Mus musculus castaneus (southern and southeastern Asia)
    • Mus musculus domesticus (western Europe, southwestern Asia, North America, South America, Africa, and Oceania)
    • Mus musculus musculus (eastern Europe and northern Asia)
    • Mus musculus bactrianus (central Asia)
    • Mus musculus gentilulus (Arabian Peninsula; Madagascar)

Harvest Mice (Reithrodontomys)

The harvest mouse family is known for being very, and having long narrow tails. Harvest Mice are nocturnal like most rodents. They are known to have a two note call that can be heard at dusk.

Salt-Marsh Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris)

  • 2 to 2.75 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3 to 3.25 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dark, blackish mid-line, and orange brown mix on the sides.
  • The belly is a white orange mix
  • Tail is longer than the length of the body, somewhat bicolored, and nearly naked
  • Found commonly in the San Francisco Bay area of California
  • Status: Endangered, and protected by the USFWS California Department of Fish and Game

Western Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis)

  • 2 to 2.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 2.5 to 3 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dark brown with a black grizzle
  • Sides are a paler color often orange brown
  • The belly is a whitish color
  • Tail is longer than the length of the body, bicolored, and well haired
  • Found commonly in the western United States, southwestern Canada, and Indiana to south central Mexico

Plains Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys montanus)

  • 2 to 2.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 2 to 2.25 inches in length
  • Colors on the back narrow dark stripe down the middle of the back, and sides are brownish buff mixture
  • The belly is white
  • Tail is the length of the body, bicolored, and short hair that’s well furred.
  • Found commonly in the southwest South Dakota, southeast Montana, to east Texas, Arizona, and north Mexico

Fulvous Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys fulvescens)

  • 2 to 2.75 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3 to 3.9 inches in length
  • Colors on the back rusty brown peppered with black
  • The belly is white or buff
  • Ears are lined with orange hair
  • Tail is the longer than the body, narrow, bicolored and somewhat naked looking
  • Found commonly in the Missouri, Louisiana, south Arizona, and throughout Mexico.

Eastern Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys humulis)

  • 2 to 2.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 2 to 2.25 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dark brown, not grizzled, with an often reddish rust color
  • Sides are a pale color
  • The belly is a grayish white color
  • Ears are a blackish color
  • Tail is narrow, almost naked, and somewhat bicolored
  • Found commonly in the southwest South Dakota, southeast Montana, to east Texas, Arizona, and north Mexico

Northern Pygmy Mouse (Baiomys taylori)

  • 2 to 2.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 1.5 to 1.75 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dark gray brown
  • The sides are gray  
  • Tail is shorter than the body, nearly naked, and slightly bicolor.
  • Found commonly in south Oklahoma to south Texas, southeastern Arizona, and southwestern New Mexico

Deer Mice (Peromuycus)

This is the genus of deer mice that are commonly confused with the House mouse and share similar habitats. Deer mice are medium sized rodents, with large eyes, and large naked ears. They are strictly nocturnal, and will stay in nests to avoid bad weather.

American Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)

  • AKA: Deer Mouse, and North American Deer Mouse
  • 2.75 to 3.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 2.75 to 3.25 inches in length
  • Colors on the back dark brown, gray brown, and orange brown color
  • Sides are a pale color
  • The belly is white with a gray mix color
  • Tail is same length or shorter than the body, narrow, bicolored, well furred with a tuft at the end
  • Found commonly in the southeastern United States to Texas, Montana, and West Virginia

White-Footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus)

  • 3 to 3.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3 inches in length
  • Colors on the back dark brown to an orange brown color on the sides
  • The belly is white
  • Ears are lined with orange hair
  • Tail is narrow, slightly shorter than body, bicolored, somewhat lightly haired
  • Found commonly in the southern Canada, Central, and southeastern United States,

Cotton Mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus)

  • 4 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3.25  inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dark brown and almost black
  • The sides are a orange brown or brown
  • Belly is a gray white color
  • Ears are large, blackish color, and naked
  • Tail bicolor, lightly haired, and black on the top.
  • Found commonly in southeastern United States

Oldfield Mouse (Peromyscus polionotus)

  • AKA: Beach Mouse
  • 2.75 to 3 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 1.75 to 2 inches in length
  • Colors on the back gray brown
  • Sides are a paler coloration
  • The belly is white
  • Tail is shorter than the body, narrow, bicolored, and lightly haired
  • Found commonly in the southeastern United States to North Carolina, and eastern Mississippi

Golden Mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli)

  • 2.75 to 3 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 2.75 to 3 inches in length
  • Colors on the back rich orange brown color
  • Sides are a pale color
  • The belly is white or creamy yellow color
  • Tail is same length as the body, narrow, bicolored and somewhat naked looking
  • Found commonly in the southeastern United States to Texas, Montana, and West Virginia

White-Ankled Mouse (Peromyscus pectoralis)

  • 3.75 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3.75 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are gray brown muxture
  • The sides are an orange color
  • Belly is a white color  
  • Tail is same length as the body, bicolored, lightly haired, and with a small tuft
  • Found commonly in Texas and the Mexican Plateau

Texas Mouse (Peromyscus attwateri)

  • 3.75 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 4 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are gray brown and dark brown
  • The sides are orange brown mix
  • Belly is a white color
  • Tail same length as the body, strongly bicolored, lightly furred, and tuft at the tip
  • Found commonly in Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, Arkansas, and Kansas

Keen’s Mouse (Peromyscus keeni)

  • AKA: Northwestern Deer Mouse
  • 4 to 4.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3.75 to 4 inches in length
  • Colors on the back dark brown, gray brown, and orange brown color
  • Sides are a pale color
  • The belly is white with a gray mix color
  • Tail is same length or shorter than the body, narrow, bicolored, and well furred
  • Found commonly in the northwestern Washington area up into the Yukon and western Canada.

Brush Mouse (Peromyscus boylii)

  • 3.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 4 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are gray brown and an orange mix with age
  • The pale orange on the sides
  • Belly is white and gray
  • Tail is longer than head and body, bicolored, and has a tuft.
  • Found commonly in southwest United States, north California, Utah, Colorado, and west Texas

Cactus Mouse (Peromyscus eremicus)

  • Around 3.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 4 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are gray brown mix
  • The sides are orange
  • Belly is a white color
  • Tail is nearly naked, semi bicolored, and lightly haired with a slight tip.
  • Found commonly in southern California, and southwest Texas

Northern Rock Mouse (Peromyscus nasutus)

  • Around 4 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 4.25 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dark gray or gray brown
  • The sides are a yellow brown
  • Belly is a pale gray or white color
  • Tail is long, bicolored, well haired, and with a terminal tuft.
  • Found commonly in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and west Texas

Canyon Mouse (Peromyscus crinitus)

  • Around 3 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3.75 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are pale to a dark gray
  • The sides are a dull brown to a bright orange
  • Belly is white colored
  • Tail is longer than the body, bicolor, well haired, and has a tuft.
  • Found commonly in Idaho, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, and California

Pinon Mouse (Peromyscus truei)

  • 4 to 4.75 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 4 to 4.75 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dark brown, black, gray brown, and a yellow brown
  • The sides are a yellow brown or tawny
  • Tail is same length as the body, nearly naked, and bicolor.
  • Found commonly in Oregon, Colorado, west Texas, and New Mexico

California Mouse (Peromyscus californicus)

  • Around 3.25 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3.25 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are a gray brown to blackish mix
  • The sides are orange to an orange brown
  • The belly color is a white color
  • Tail is bicolored, well haired, and has a small tuft
  • Found commonly in California and Northern Baja California

Jumping Mice (Dipididae)

This family of mice is not closely related to the other new world mice.  They are characterized by extremely long tails, and exceptionally long feet. They are among some of the most attractive small rodents coming in a variety of bright colors. They can jump up to 10 feet in some species in a single bound.

Meadow Jumping Mouse (Zapus hudsonius)

  • Around 3.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 5.5 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dark brown mixed with orange
  • The sides are a yellow brown
  • Belly is a white cream color
  • Tail is very long, narrow, and bicolored
  • Found commonly in the northeastern United States

Western Jumping Mouse (Zapus princeps)

  • Around 3.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 5.75 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dark brown
  • The sides are a yellowish colored, and heavily grizzled
  • Belly is a white cream color
  • Tail is very long, narrow, tip of the tail has a tuft, and is bicolored
  • Found commonly in the California, Arizona, and New Mexico

Pacific Jumping Mouse (Zapus trinotatus)

  • Around 3.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 5.5 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dark brown mixed with deep orange on the sides, and cheeks
  • Belly is a white cream color
  • Tail is very long, narrow, short tuft at the end, and semi bicolored
  • Found commonly in Oregon, Washington, and northwest California

Grasshopper Mice (Onychomys)

The grasshopper mice are tiny and short tailed rodents. They are more carnivorous of other mice and smaller rodents. They also like to eat a variety of insects. 

Southern Grasshopper Mouse (Onychomys leucogaster)

  • Around 3.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 2  inches in length
  • Colors on the back are orange brown, gray, and dark gray brown
  • The belly is a white to cream color
  • Tail short, naked, white below, on tip, and brown color on the top of the tail
  • Found commonly in throughout southern California, western Nevada, and Arizona

Mearn’s Grasshopper Mouse (Onychomys arenicola)

  • Around 3.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 2  inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dull brown, sandy brown, and pinkish gray
  • Back maybe slightly grizzled
  • The belly is a white to cream color
  • Tail short, naked, white at the tip, and brown on the top of the tail
  • Found commonly in throughout Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona

Northern Grasshopper Mouse (Onychomys leucogaster)

  • Around 4.25 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 1.5  inches in length
  • This is the largest of the Grasshopper Mice
  • Colors on the back are sandy brown, pale gray brown, bright orange, gray, and very dark gray
  • The belly is a white to cream color
  • Tail short, naked, and brown at the tip
  • Found commonly in throughout North America, primarily in Texas, California, and Arizona
  • Known to stand on the back of its legs to defend territory or in display of dominance

Pocket Mice & Kangaroo Mice

Heteromyidae is the family of Pocket mice, Kangaroo Mice, and Kangaroo Rats. The heteromyid rodents are characterized by large heads, extremely long tails, modified forefeet to dig, small ears, fur-lined cheek pouches, and narrow hind feet. They are an outdoor species that spends the daytime and winters hidden in burrows. Like most rodents they can retain water from the foods they eat and can survive without water for long periods of time.

Pocket Mice (Chaetodipus)

This genus is known as the coarse furred pocket mice. Pocket mice characterized by long (sometimes) crested tails, and elongated hind feet that lack hair on the sole. They are desert native species that like the rocky, gravel, and sandy soils.

California Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus californicus)

  • Active on the ground or in low shrubs during the warm months
  • Can be lethargic by day at any time of the year
  • Inactive during the wet and winter months
  • 3 to 3. 25 inches is the length of the head and body
  • 4 to 4.75 inches is the tail length
  • Color is sandy brown with a black grizzle on the back
  • Sides are more pale
  • The belly region is cream white color
  • Ears are relatively long
  • Tail is bicolored tuff at the tip of the tail
  • Found throughout California to north Baja California

San Diego Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus fallax)

  • Active on the ground or in low shrubs during the warm months
  • Can be lethargic by day at any time of the year
  • Inactive during the wet and winter months
  • 3 to 3. 25 inches is the length of the head and body
  • 4 to 4.75 inches is the tail length
  • Color is sandy brown with a black grizzle on the back
  • Sides are more pale
  • The belly region is cream white color
  • Ears are relatively long
  • Tail is bicolored tuff at the tip of the tail
  • Found throughout Nevada, western Utah, northwest Arizona, and east California to east Baja California

Spiny Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus spinatus)

  • Around 3.25 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 4.75 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are sandy brown grizzled with black
  • The sides are paler with a distinct orange lateral line
  • Tail is same length as the body, nearly naked, and bicolor.
  • Found commonly in southeastern California and northwest Baja California

Nelson’s Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus nelsoni)

  • Active year around
  • Around 3.25 inches is the length of the head and body
  • The tail length is around 4 inches
  • Tail is bicolored tuff at the tip of the tail
  • Back is colored with yellow-orange and grizzled with black
  • Belly is a cream white color
  • Found throughout southeastern New Mexico, southwestern Texas, and northern Mexico.

Desert Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus penicillatus)

  • Around 3.5 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 4 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are a pale pinkish brown, sandy brown, or a gray brown
  • The sides are paler
  • Belly is a cream white
  • Tail is long, bicolored, and has a brown tuft at end
  • Found commonly in southeastern California to northwest New Mexico

Rock Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus intermedius)

  • 3 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3.5 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are sandy brown, dark brown, or black
  • The sides are a paler color
  • Belly is a cream white
  • Tail is slightly longer than body, bicolored, and has a tuft at the tip
  • Found commonly in south Utah, Arizona, and southwest Texas

Bailey’s Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus baileyi)

  • Active year round
  • 3 to 3.75 inches is the length of the head and body
  • 4 to 4.5 inches is the tail length
  • Male is larger than the female.
  • Color is gray to a yellow-gray on the back
  • The belly region is cream white color
  • Tail is bicolored tuff at the tip of the tail
  • Found throughout south Arizona, southwest New Mexico, and northwest Mexico

Baja Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus rudinoris)

  • Active year around
  • Around 3.75 inches is the length of the head and body
  • The tail length is around 4.5 inches
  • Male is larger than the female.
  • Tail is bicolored tuff at the tip of the tail
  • Back is gray or tan, yellow, gray mixture
  • Belly is a cream white colored
  • The appearance of the Baja Pocket Mouse is indistinguishable between the Bailey’s pocket mouse.
  • Range of this mouse is southeastern California, Baja California, and into northwestern Mexico

Long-Tailed Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus formosus)

  • Active during warmer months and breeding, inactive during the colder months
  • Around 3 inches is the length of the head and body
  • 4.5 inches is the tail length
  • Color on the back is gray, pale gray, gray-brown, or dark chocolate
  • Sides are paler with a faint narrow orange line in gray forms
  • The belly region is cream white color
  • Ears are relatively long
  • Tail is long, bicolor, half thick haired, and with a tuft
  • Found throughout Nevada, western Utah, northwest Arizona, and east California to east Baja California

Hispid Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus hispidus)

  • Active during warmer months and breeding, inactive during the colder months
  • Around 3.75 inches is the length of the head and body
  • 4 inches is the tail length
  • Color on the back is brown with grizzled orange and black spots
  • The belly region is white
  • Thick orange ring around the eye
  • Tail is short, bicolor, lightly haired, and no tuft
  • Found throughout South Dakota, North Dakota, Arizona, and western Louisiana

Soft-Furred Pocket Mice (Perognathus)

These mice are known for the silky and shiny texture of their fur. They are native to desert areas and require dust baths. If they are deprived of sand to dust with the fur they have will become very greasy.

White-Eared Pocket Mouse (Perognathus alticola)

  • 3.25 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3.25 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are orange brown with a dark gray wash, or pale orange lightly grizzled with gray
  • The sides are a pale orange
  • Belly is white
  • Tail is the same length as the body, pale for half of the tail then dark the rest, and with a dusky tip
  • Found commonly in southern California

San Joaquin Pocket Mouse (Perognathus inornatus)

  • 2.75 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3 inches in length
  • Colors on the back orange with a heavy black brown grizzle
  • Tail is same length as the body sometimes longer, bicolored, and has no tuft.
  • Found commonly in western California

Arizona Pocket Mouse (Perognathus amplus)

  • 2.75 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3.5 inches in length
  • Colors on the back orange brown with some blackish grizzle
  • The sides have a distinct orange lateral line
  • Belly has a cream white color
  • Tail is slightly longer than the body, pale orange color, and a small tuft at the end.
  • Found commonly in Arizona and northern Mexico

Little Pocket Mouse (Perognathus longimembris)

  • 2.75 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 1.75 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are pale brown, gray, gray brown, or a dark gray brown
  • The sides are a pale orange
  • Belly is white
  • Tail is longer than the body, bicolor, lightly haired, and with longer hairs at the tip
  • Found commonly in Oregon, Nevada, California, Arizona, and northwest Mexico

Silky Pocket Mouse (Perognathus flavus)

  • 2.25 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 1.75 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are orange brown slightly grizzled
  • The sides are a pale orange
  • Belly is white
  • Tail is short, nearly naked, faintly bicolor, and darker at the tip
  • Found commonly in the Great plains, Mexican plateau, Wyoming, Nebraska, western Texas, and Arizona

Merriam’s Pocket Mouse (Perognathus merriami)

  • 2.25 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 1.75 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are orange brown slightly grizzled
  • The sides are a pale orange
  • Belly is white
  • Tail is short, nearly naked, faintly bicolor, and darker at the tip
  • Found commonly in Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico

Great Basin Pocket Mouse (Perognathus parvus)

  • 3.25 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 3.5 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are dark gray brown or gray brown, and sometimes a pale gray brown
  • The sides are a pale orange
  • Belly is white
  • Tail is bicolored, well haired, and tufted
  • Found commonly in Arizona, Montana, and California
  • The area is better known as the Great Basin

Plains Pocket Mouse (Perognathus flavescens)

  • 2.75 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 2.25 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are brown, orange gray, and gray brown
  • Belly is white
  • Tail is pale, faintly bicolored, short hairs at the tip, and darker toward the tip
  • Found commonly in North Dakota, Minnesota, Texas, and New Mexico

Olive-Backed Pocket Mouse (Perognathus fasciatus)

  • 2.75 inches head to body length
  • Tail is around 2.5 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are gray brown, and a green tint
  • The sides are a pale orange
  • Belly is white
  • Tail is faintly bicolored, gray above, white below, thinly haired, and has short fur
  • Found commonly in Utah and Colorado

Kangaroo Mice (Microdipodops)

These mice are quiet similar to the Kangaroo rats. They are much smaller and have hairy thicker tails with no crest.

Dark Kangaroo Mouse (Microdipodops megacephalus)

  • 2.75 inches head to body length
  • 3.5 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are a dark gray brown or a pale gray wash with a bit of yellow
  • The sides and belly are white
  • The fur is very soft and silky
  • Tail is bicolor, tapered at both ends, and darkest at the tip
  • Found commonly in Oregon, California, Nevada, Idaho, and Utah

Pale Kangaroo Mouse (Microdipodops pallidus)

  • 2.75 inches head to body length
  • 3.5 inches in length
  • Colors on the back are pale pink buff mixture and sometime with a dark grizzle
  • The sides and belly are white
  • Fur is very soft and silky
  • Tail is pinkish above, white below, tapered at both ends, thickest at the midsection, and with a small tuft at the tip
  • Found commonly in Nevada and California
     

Mouse Reproduction

Mice are the most successful rodents, and second most successful mammals due to how well they reproduce. This is also one of the main reasons mouse control is in such high demand.

The female mice are capable of having an estrous or heat cycle that lasts up to a weeklong and be in estrus twenty-four hours or less. Females who smell male urine can become induced reproductively for conception in less than three days. Males also emit ultrasonic songs during mating and courtship. It is said that the songs are similar to the songs of birds.

If there are too many females in one area they will eventually reduce breeding cycles of not completely stop them.

Once reproduction takes place the female will form a plug to prevent mating from other males or the same male for a day or less. The mice pups take about twenty days give or take a day, to develop. Female then gives birth to the new pups. She can have anywhere from 4-16 young. The number of pups usually varies from new to older females, and how many times they have given birth. The female, if induced often, can have four to ten or more litters a year.

This is what makes the mice populations so prevalent against predation, and so successful amongst other species. Fur grows in at around three days. The pups gain eyesight around ten to twelve days. They become reproductively mature around five to six weeks.
 

Mouse Life Cycle

Image source: 007pestcontrol.co.uk

Lifespan:

  • Mice are conceived and given birth in 19 to 21 days.
  • Fur is grown in by six days
  • Eyesight is functional around two weeks
  • At three to four weeks the young mice are self-sustaining and winged
  • Sexual maturity is around five to six weeks
     

Mouse Habits or Mouse Behavior

House mice and other mice prefer to feed on plant matter. Mice are classified as omnivorous and will eat anything to survive. The mouse diet is actually composed of eating its own feces to acquire the nutrients and helpful bacteria it needs to survive.

Mice frequently enter homes and other shelters when the food sources are scarce and the weather is cold. They prefer to be nomadic and constantly on the move from food source to food source so that their presence isn’t noticed.

Mice are most active in between the dusk and dawn hours. Being predominately nocturnal, they will take shelter during the day hours in man-made shelters, burrows, homes, stacks of lumber, trees, or untended piles of debris. Mice will eat anything available to them from seed, fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, insects, worms, spiders, and various meats.  Mice are often heard gnawing in the active hours due to their incisors constantly growing. They are also smelled first because they like to mark the habitat with urine. This warns other mice and also gives away their presence. Mice can also be heard making various calling and squeaking noises.

Deer Mouse

  • Burrowing causes damage building foundations
    • Also gives them access to gnaw on all types of secure underground materials like copper, lead, plastic, and wood.

House Mouse

  • They like to nest in higher elevations such as attics
    • Allows them to damage the attic space, building nests, and gnawing on any materials in the area
  • They also destroy garden crops and ornamental plants

Mice will commonly remain on all fours unless they are fighting which they will raise up on the hind legs and spar with each other. The tail aids mice in balance vertically and horizontally. Mice are quick, good jumpers, climbers, and swimmers. Mice sleep anywhere from 10-12 hours daily. Mice and other rodents establish packs like other animals. Most packs consist of one alpha male, many females, and the young. Adult males are rarely found in pairs due to being extremely territorial.  

Indoor Diet: Consists of breads, grain, cereal, candy, meats, and anything else appetizing.

Outdoor Diet: Contains many different seed types, corn, wheat, fruits, and even insect larvae.  

 

Effects of Weather and Climate on Mice

The climate effect on the mice of North America is similar to the effect of climate on all other organisms. They can be found indoors throughout the year, and are more common during the winter months. Mice are found outdoors during the warmer months like the spring, summer, and in some regions the early fall months.
 

Mice Predators

Mice usually bring a host of predators wherever they travel. Some of these predators are dangerous to humans, and others merely a nuisance. The predators that target mice tend to force these rodents into homes and shelters to survive.

  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Rats
  • Bobcats
  • Wolves
  • Coyotes
  • Lynx
  • Foxes
  • Owls
  • Eagles
  • Hawks
  • Other large birds
  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Spiders
     

Diseases From Mice

Mice are known to carry tons of harmful diseases. There are quite a few that are harmful to humans. They vector and spread these diseases all over the word. Be mindful that your pets and family may come in contact with these critters. The best way to remain safe is to make sure you always are cautious and try to keep pets away.

  • Bacterial & Mycoplasmal Diseases
  • Viral Diseases
  • Parasitic Diseases
    • Protozoans
  • Worm Infections
    • Parasitic worms
      • Hookworm
      • Roundworm
      • Flatworm
      • Flukes
  • Ectoparasites
    • This are various parasites that live on the surface of the skin
      • Ticks, Midges, Mites, Fleas, Scabies, and etc.
  • Fungal Diseases
     

Facts About Mice

  • This species is famous for the inbred albino species that are studied highly for their traits.
  • Mouse urine can cause allergies in children
  • Mice can also bring fleas, mites, ticks and lice into your home
  • The smallest mouse species in the world is the African Pygmy mouse at 1-3 inches
  • Mice use their whiskers as an extra set of sensory hands to sense temperature changes, and help detect surfaces they are walking on
  • Mice can communicate in ultrasonic waves and sound waves
  • Mice live near food because they snack and eat 10 to 20 times a day
  • A female house mouse can give birth to up to a dozen babies every three weeks.
  • Mice are regarded as “pests” because they can damage crops, goods, furniture, and spread diseases.
  • Mice like to sleep over twelve hours a day
  • Most mice can jump almost two feet in the air
  • Mice are masters at climbing and swimming if they need to
  • The Greek god Apollo is mentioned sometimes as “Apollo Smintheus”, meaning Apollo the Mouse
  • Ganesha, a Hindu god, is depicted in artwork riding a mouse
  • Jewish folklore forbid eating any mouse contaminated food, it was said to cause forgetfulness and sore throats
  • Mice have been domesticated for hundreds of years
  • The National Mouse Club of Britain was established in 1895.
  • Mice have been known to play dead if they’re caught off guard

 

Citations: Reid, Fiona. A Field Guide to Mammals of North America North of Mexico. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.


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