DTY Rodent Management
The Mischievous Mouse


Rodents are about 40 percent of all mammals, and of all rodent species the mischievous house mouse, Mus musculus, is by far one of the most successful. Because of significantly adaptable behavior, as a species, the house mouse has spread globally from Asia.

Mischievous Mouse Measurements:
  • Lifespan in the wild: 7 to 12 months
  • Lifespan in confinement: 1.5 to 2.5 years
  • Length (+tail) 6 to 7 inches
  • Weight 0.7 to 1.4 ounces
  • Body temperature 98 to 101°F
  • No sweat glands
  • Heart rate 450 to 600 bpm
  • Basic metabolic rate ~2 W/h
  • Dentation 16 teeth (incisors and 3 molars/q)
  • Diastema (functional space separating teeth of different functions)
  • Degenerative retinas or poor eyesight greater than 2 ft
  • Smell ppm
  • Hearing 30 to 110 kHz
  • Thigmotactic
  • Commensal and curious
  • Herbivore and ~omnivore
  • Sleep ~12.5 hr/day
  • Running speed ~8 mph
  • Polygamous and polyandrous
  • Estrous 4 to 5 days
  • Gravid 19 to 21 days
  • Litter in the wild 5 to 71
  • Litter in confinement 10 to 12
  • Weaning age 21 to 28 days
Wear metal mesh or Kevlar gloves, if handling a house mouse. Pick it up by holding it at the base of the tail. Do not pick up a mouse by the end of the tail. Place the mouse into the palm of the hand. A mouse may repeatedly bite or attempt escape during handling.

During daylight hours, the house mouse is generally sleeping. When awake, the house mouse is lively, curious and playful. Nocturnal behavior, although inconvenient for the pest management professional (PMP), must be understood and integrated into pest control practices to outcompete and end the cycle of pesky commensalism.

Because of a high surface area-to-volume ratio, the house mouse is unable to regulate internal body temperature with good consistency. House mice are very sensitive to cold and heat. The mouse can regulate its body temperature through constriction or dilation of venous bodies within its tail. House mice will seek out shelter temperatures of 64° to 72°F and humidity of 40 to 70 percent. Heat stroke may result at temperatures above 86°F.

By temperature, a PMP can inspect and locate potential house mouse shelter sites. Optimum placement of control devices is best practiced through location of shelter sites.

Preferring groups, the house mouse is a socially gregarious animal. Hostility is infrequent, although male mice occupying the same space may fight, unless they are litter mates. Reproduction is prolific, and the house mouse can robustly increase its population.

Mischievous Mouse Measurements:
  • Restaurant: 762 mice in 6 weeks1
  • Supermarket: 2260 mice in 3 weeks1
  • Distribution Center: 5439 mice in 4 weeks1
House mouse demonstrates a shop and store behavior1, with hidden caches of food in numerous locations. A stable diet of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins is necessary. Per day, house mouse adults consume 3 to 5 grams of food and drink 3 to 5 ml of water.

Growing at a constant rate, house mouse incisor teeth are worn by gnawing behavior within its environment. With overgrown incisors, pathologies of malnutrition, wasting, dehydration and oral cavity damage may result.

Harvesting quality nesting and bedding materials, house mouse is a superior shelter builder. Dangerous ammonia levels and poor environmental quality result for the house mouse if only low quality materials are available. As a result, the chances of disease are significantly increased.

For house mouse, symptoms of disease include disheveled pelage, closed or squinting eyes with discharge, wasting and lack of movement. Other symptoms include changes in color, consistency, smell and amount of urine and feces.

Due to lack of quality nesting materials, age, malnutrition, wasting, abnormal photoperiods, temperature extremes, female reproductive pathology and tumors, house mouse reproduction may drastically decrease. Additionally, gravid females may terminate, abandon, or consume ill, mutant or unhealthy pups due to lack of food and water, lack of nesting materials, excessive noise or local overpopulation.

House mouse control is 80 percent environmental hygiene and 20 percent pest control.1 A knockout punch equals 96 percent of an infestation eliminated or it rebounds in 6 to 12 months.1 With keen understanding, the PMP can deprive the mischievous house mouse of food, water, shelter and space, significantly reducing populations.

1 Dr. Robert Corrigan, PhD

Stuart Mitchell, D.O., DVM, PsyD, BCE, is an entomologist, veterinarian, observing physician and consulting clinical psychologist, and a regular contributor to Pest Management Professional's Direct to You series.

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