DTY Cockroach
From whiskers to tail
Integrated pest management tips for the pursuit of the house mouse


It’s a pest that can constantly cause homeowners distress, while also providing value to scientific discovery: the house mouse, one of the most numerous species of the genus Mus.

The house mouse (Mus musculus) lives among humans, compromising our public health and causing damage to crops, stored food and property. The infamous pest can transmit salmonella, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, murine typhus and rikettsialpox, among other pathogens. It can severely contaminate food and food preparation surfaces as it expresses approximately 3,000 urine droplets in 24 hours.

Pest management professionals (PMPs) must be able to properly identify and locate this complex pest by understanding its biology, characteristics, behaviors and harborage preferences.

How to identify the house mouse

The house mouse possesses brown to gray pelage, or fur, that is lighter on the abdomen (ventrally). Its ears and tail are hairless. Its body length ranges 3 to 4 inches, and tail length ranges 2 to 4 inches. The house mouse weighs 0.7 to 1.6 ounces, has an average basal metabolic rate of 0.271 W/hour, and is capable of running 8 mph. It has four incisor teeth, 12 molars, and a dentation, or a gap, between the two sets.

Degenerative retinas provide poor eyesight beyond 2 feet, but smell is hypersensitive — in the parts per million range — and hearing is keen at 30 to 110 kHz. With no sweat glands, a prehensile, or graspable, tail allows for thermal regulation. The house mouse possesses numerous vibrissae, or innervated hairs, that allow for thigmotactic, or keen touch, sense.

House mice are born at a rate of three to 14 per litter (five to 10 litters per year), and are weaned at 21 days. The pest matures from juvenile to adult in six to nine weeks and reaches sexual maturity at six weeks for females and eight weeks for males. Copulation is possible at five weeks.

IPM tips for inspection, monitoring and management

Where is the house mouse hiding? The house mouse will sleep in its harborage about 12.5 hours/day. While awake, the pest often explores new environments because of its neophilic, or inquisitive, nature.

The house mouse is considered to be a commensal rodent, because it is often found living among humans. The mice rely on our environment for their food and shelter. PMPs will find the house mouse within an approximately 30-foot radius of familial sites, likely in shady or covered areas.

When conducting an inspection, listen for movements and vocalizations. Look for traces of blood, saliva, scats, urine pillars, rub marks (sebum or oily secretions of the sebaceous glands) and hair. You can also conduct infrared and blue light/orange goggle (fluorescence) inspections to locate activities and behavioral evidence.

Manage the house mouse’s navigation of the environment by rodent-proofing structural exteriors from grade to roof line, ensuring openings are less than 0.25 inch. Eliminate larger openings using brushes, barriers, elastomeric caulking, copper mesh, stainless steel and cement as appropriate. Pay attention to utilities, pipes, vents, electrical and wall/ceiling voids.

Use remote-sensing deployments per real-time and documentation. As appropriate, use lures for mechanical traps and bait formulations (liquid, gel, dry pellet and blocks). For cryptic environmental deployments, bait stations and traps are available in a variety of shapes and colors to pique the house mouse’s inquisitive nature.

Today’s PMP is a public health professional and a help to the troubled homeowner. To be effective, you also must be a diagnostician that outcompetes the menacing mouse by knowing your nemesis well.

Stuart Mitchell, D.O., DVM, PsyD, BCE, is a board-certified family practitioner and entomologist, and a regular contributor to Pest Management Professional's Direct to You series.

PMP’s Direct To You provides pest management professionals with educational refreshers on timely and critical topics essential to operational success. This content is not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed to practice where you live. Look for the content-rich PMP Direct To You archives at mypmp.net/direct-to-you-archive.

This newsletter was produced by North Coast Media’s content marketing staff in collaboration with Bell Laboratories.

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