How did it get here?
Originating in Asia, the house mouse traveled to North
America on the ships of early setters from Europe. Along
with the Norway rat and black rat, it is known as an “old
How to spot
House mice are most likely to be inside when it’s
cold outside. Look for the following signs in cupboards,
closets, or storage areas: ball-shaped nests made from
shredded paper or other fibers, droppings, gnaw marks,
and musky odor.
mouse is 6 to 7 inches long with its tail. The fur on
its back and belly is brownish to gray. The tail is long,
with scales in circular rows. The large ears lack fur.
The mouse weighs ½ ounce to 1 ounce.
Mus musculus lives in houses, groceries, factories,
grain storage buildings, old fields, pastures, and roadsides.
It prefers hidden spots near food.
The house mouse has a life span of 9 to
12 months. It is able to reproduce when it is 6 to 10
weeks old. The young are born 19 to 23 days after mating.
The mouse produces four to 10 litters a year, with 5 to
7 young in each litter.
Look-alikes and how to distinguish
- White-footed mouse Peromyscus
leucopus—white feet and white or light-colored
belly and chest; tail dark on top and light on bottom;
larger ears and eyes; lacks odor.
- Meadow vole Microtus sp.—compact
and stocky; short legs and tail; small ears; doesn't climb.
Why is this animal a problem?
- House mice are very destructive to property.
They burrow under buildings and undermine structures;
chew furniture, walls, insulation, clothing, etc.; chew
electrical wires, which can start fires; and gnaw wood,
which can weaken wooden structures.
- House mice destroy valuable food sources,
especially stored grain. In six months, one pair of mice can eat
4 pounds of food and leave 18,000 droppings, or feces.
- House mice can
transmit diseases to humans, including bacterial food poisoning,
tapeworms and roundworms, and
rickettsial pox. They also can transmit dysentery to swine.
- Eliminate habitat by cleaning up
trash and debris around property.
- Store pantry items, bird seed, etc.
in gnaw-proof containers.
- Close all possible entry points with metal
- Bait live traps with peanut butter. This will
allow you to catch and identify a mouse without killing
it. For more information, click
here and here.
natural predators like barn owls. Click
here or here.
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
of Nebraska-Lincoln, Institute of Agriculture and Natural
Article: "Controlling House Mice"
Diversity Web, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
Species account and photos