Mice Facts, Identification and Control
Scientific Order: Rodentia
House mouse (mus musculus)
White-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus)
Deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)
Size: On average no longer than 4 inches in length, and no more than 1.5 oz. in weight.
Color: Brown, black, white, gray, and combinations thereof.
Signs of Infestation
First and foremost, mice leave behind small, cone-shaped or round brown droppings anywhere they go. These droppings may stain the floor or walls. Mouse urine also smells and stains carpeting.
Mice never stop teething. To keep their teeth sharp, they have to chew on something constantly. They'll chew on anything soft enough, including cardboard, plastic, electrical wiring, wood, and paper.
Treatment and Prevention
Mice are even better at squeezing through small cracks and gaps to access buildings than rats. They can fit through any opening the size of a dime! They find these gaps by following the smell of food and air currents created by drafts.
Look for gaps and cracks around window and door frames, baseboard, roofing tile, utility lines, brick, and molding. Patch up any draft-producing gaps with caulk or steel wool. Keep any food products stored and sealed to prevent mice from smelling them.
Behavior and Diet
Mice are mainly herbivores, meaning that they prefer eating plants, fruits, and grains. While they'll "sample" just about any kind of food, they prefer cereal grains. Ultimately, however, mice diet is defined by its adaptability.
Mice spend most of their day hiding in cramped, dark places where they can stay hidden. At night, they'll come out to forage for food, teethe, and make nests. They tend to live in dark, warm places such as basements and crawl spaces.
Female mice produce up to 15 litters per year, and each litter contains ten to twelve babies on average. Upon giving birth, mice can become pregnant again within a single day. Mice populations grow very rapidly once a mating pair establishes itself.
Mouse pups are born blind and without fur or ears. They generally reach full sexual maturity at only five weeks old. Most mice live less than one year in the wild, but in protected environments such as buildings, they may live for two to three years.
- House mice are most commonly polygamous, meaning they have multiple mates.
Mice can jump as high as 16 inches vertically from a flat surface.
Mice use their whiskers to sense minute changes in air temperature and pressure. They use this ability to find air currents and drafts.
New York State Department of Health Mouse Control fact sheet
- Illinois Department of Public Health House Mouse Prevention & Control fact sheet
- National Pesticide Information Center mice fact sheet