House mouse Facts
Size 2.7-4.3 inch (7-11 cm)
Speed Up to 8 mph (12.8 km/h)
Weight 0.35-0.88 oz (10-25 g)
Lifespan 2-5 years
Food Omnivore
Predators Birds, cats, foxes, reptiles
Habitat Worldwide
Order Rodents
Family Murids
Scientific name Mus musculus
Characteristics Big eyes and ears, thin tail

The genus “mus” currently includes 39 types, amongst others the Ceylon spiny mouse, the African pygmy mouse, and the Cypriot mouse.

House Mouse and Pet Mouse – the Difference

Is the grey house mouse a pet just like the domestic cat or the dog? The little nocturnal rodent often lives as a “lodger” in human homes, yet it is no pet. Mice that can be held as pets are fancy mice, jerboas and gerbils.

House Mouse House Mouse - Photo:

How Did the Mouse Come Into the World?

The mouse was originally „born“ in Asia as a steppe animal feeding on grass seeds. From its home region it traveled to Europe via ship as a “stowaway”. From there it also reached North America. Today mice live everywhere in the world.

Why is the Mouse Called Mouse?

The scientific name of the mouse is „mus musculus“. The term “mus” originates from the Sanskrit (Old Indian) word for “thief”.

The Mouse and the Gods

In Ancient Greece, the god Apollo sometimes was also called Apollo Smintheus, which means “Apollo the mouse”. In temples that were dedicated to Apollo white mice were kept under the altar to honor the god. In India, mice are also associated with a god: The Hindu god Ganesh rides on a mouse.

House Mouse House Mouse - Photo: Martin Pelanek/Shutterstock

The Mouse and its Reputation
  • In former times it was believed that evil people would be punished by mice.
  • Some people believe that deep-fried mice or mouse cakes would be a good remedy against bed-wetting.
  • In Egypt, cooked mice were used as a cure for several illnesses such as stomach aches.
  • The Roman writer Pliny recommended mixing the ashes of mice with honey to relieve earaches.
  • Patients suffering from smallpox, whooping cough, measles and several other diseases were fed with cooked mice.
  • Greeks and Indians believed that mice were lightnings.
Eeeek, a mouse! The Carrier of Diseases

Mice are said to be dirty and unclean. Yet, they are actually quite clean, because they use different spots in their territory to sleep and to eat. But they are also carriers of many bacteria, viruses and diseases, such as salmonellae, the Hantavirus, flea-borne typhus, tularemia, and bubonic plague.

House Mouse House Mouse - Photo: dr OX/Shutterstock

The Oldest Mouse of the World ...

... is Mickey Mouse! It was born in 1928 and is still alive! ;) ... but seriously: normally mice do not live that long. As pets they have a life expectancy of about 2 years, sometimes up to 5 years. In the wild they mostly do not get older than 12 to 18 months.

Fearless Discoverers

Deep in their hearts mice are great discoverers! They are very curious and go out to explore their surroundings, remember places, paths, obstacles, feeding sites and other things.

The Mouse in the House

Clear signs of furry "lodgers":

  • Excrement balls near food supplies
  • Foot prints or tail traces - especially visible on dusty surfaces
  • Urine (dried or fresh) lights up under UV light
  • Musky scent specifically near food supplies
  • Other than rats, mice climb walls and make noises when doing so.
  • Squeaking and nibbling noises ;)

House Mouse House Mouse - Photo: Neil Burton/Shutterstock

1 Female Mouse + 1 Male Mouse = 12 Baby Mice

In the wild, house mice only reproduce between April and September. House mice living in the proximity of humans reproduce all year long. One female mouse has about 5–10 litters per year, sometimes even up to 14. One litter consists of 3–12 babies, mostly 5–6 young mice. The little ones open their eyes after 14 days and do not need the milk of their mother anymore after 3 weeks. Female mice also breast-feed the babies of other mice.

The Mouse Nest

Mice like to build their nests with scraps of cloth, paper or other soft materials. The entire construction looks more like a loosely woven ball of about 10 to 15 cm in diameter.

The Habitat of Mice

Wild house mice like to live in rock crevices or walls, dig little caves with complex tunnel systems, chambers, nests and three to four exits. In human environments they like to live in woodpiles, rafters, storage rooms and other hidden places close to food.

On the Menu: What Mice Eat

The teeth of mice are almost as solid as diamonds. On the so-called Mohs scale, the diamond is listed with a hardness of 10 and mouse teeth with a hardness of 9.6. With the exception of hard bread, mice eat everything they can find: plants, seeds, roots, leaves, insects (larvae of bugs, centipedes, cockroaches), carrion and everything they can find in kitchens. Unbelievable, but true: They also feed on glue, soap and other household materials.

Enemies – These Animals Love Mice to Bits

Mice have many enemies: domestic cats, foxes, weasels, ferrets, snakes, falcons, hawks. Their worst enemy probably is the barn owl which eats about 1,500 to 3,000 mice per year!

Mice have 5 Senses

House mice have bad eyesight, but good senses of smell, taste and hearing. They use their whiskers to detect changes of air and surfaces.

Do you think elephants are afraid of mice? Check it out!

Pupils are welcome to use this information at school for animal profiles, fact sheets, essays, work sheets, presentations, posters or homework. All information appearing on this site has been precisely and thoroughly researched, nevertheless should you notice any errors, please do notify us via email.