Sunday 19 May
House mouse (Mus musculus)
What’s the World’s Favourite Species?Find out here.
House mouse fact file
- Find out more
- Print factsheet
House mouse description
The house mouse (Mus musculus) is one of the most widely distributed and successful mammals in the world (2). It has dull greyish-brown fur and the tail, which is the same length as the body, is thicker and scalier than that of other species of mice (3). It is accompanied by a distinctive strong ‘stale’ odour and its presence can easily be detected by means of its droppings (2). Forms of this species living in association with man (‘commensal’ forms) tend to be larger and darker than ‘wild’ forms, and have longer tails (3). The voice is a familiar high-pitched ‘squeak’ (3).
- Souris Domestique.
- Ratón Casero.
House mouse biology
House mice are typically active at night, but will emerge during the day if food is scarce (3). They are extremely agile, with an excellent sense of balance, and are able to jump and swim fairly well (3). The senses of hearing and smell are highly developed and communication is largely through scent (5). They have an extremely broad diet, incorporating most human foodstuffs, invertebrates and occasionally more bizarre household items such as soap and tobacco (2).
In urban situations, territories are usually set up, which males defend aggressively (3). Breeding tends to occur throughout the year, with five to ten litters produced each year, each one consisting of between four and eight young (3). The nest is constructed of shredded matter such as paper or cloth (2) and females may share a nest if the population density is high (3) . The young are born virtually hairless, with sealed eyes and ears. They are fully furred after 14 days and weaned after 18 - 20 days, when they begin to emerge from the nest (3).
House mice are well-known pests, contaminating foodstuffs and grains and carrying a number of diseases and parasites that are transmissible to humans (3). Its close association with humans has led to it featuring widely in folklore (6).Top
House mouse range
It is thought that the house mouse originated on the steppes of central Asia and possibly the Mediterranean area. It is now found around the world as a result of introduction by humans. It is known that the species has been present in Britain since at least the Iron Age, as remains have been found in deposits dating from this period. At present, the species is found throughout Britain and Ireland where there are human settlements (3).Top
House mouse habitat
As a commensal species, the house mouse lives in close association with humans (4). In addition to houses, it has been found in a range of urban situations, including shops, mills, warehouses, factories, coal mines and even cold stores. In rural areas it occurs in farm buildings, rubbish tips, piggeries, poultry houses, granaries and open fields (3). They nest in woodpiles, beneath floors, behind rafters and in other concealed locations. In the wild state, the house mouse lives in crevices in rocks or in underground burrows (4).Top
House mouse status
The house mouse is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (7).Top
House mouse threats
House mouse conservation
Find out more
For more on British mammals see the Wild About Britain website:
This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
- Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.
- An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2003):
Mammals Trust UK (September 2003):
- Corbet, G. B. & Southern, H. N. (1977) The handbook of British mammals. Second Edition. Blackwell Scientific Publications, London.
Animal Diversity Web (September 2003):
- Macdonald, D (2001) The new encyclopaedia of mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Buczaki, S (2002) Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn, London.
IUCN Red List (February, 2011)
MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.
Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials
Copyright in this website and materials contained on this website (Material) belongs to Wildscreen or its licensors.
Visitors to this website (End Users) are entitled to:
- view the contents of, and Material on, the website;
- download and retain copies of the Material on their personal systems in digital form in low resolution for their own personal use;
- teachers, lecturers and students may incorporate the Material in their educational material (including, but not limited to, their lesson plans, presentations, worksheets and projects) in hard copy and digital format for use within a registered educational establishment, provided that the integrity of the Material is maintained and that copyright ownership and authorship is appropriately acknowledged by the End User.
End Users shall not copy or otherwise extract, alter or manipulate Material other than as permitted in these Terms and Conditions of Use of Materials.
Additional use of flagged material
Green flagged material
Certain Material on this website (Licence 4 Material) displays a green flag next to the Material and is available for not-for-profit conservation or educational use. This material may be used by End Users, who are individuals or organisations that are in our opinion not-for-profit, for their not-for-profit conservation or not-for-profit educational purposes. Low resolution, watermarked images may be copied from this website by such End Users for such purposes. If you require high resolution or non-watermarked versions of the Material, please contact Wildscreen with details of your proposed use.
Creative commons material
Certain Material on this website has been licensed to Wildscreen under a Creative Commons Licence. These images are clearly marked with the Creative Commons buttons and may be used by End Users only in the way allowed by the specific Creative Commons Licence under which they have been submitted. Please see http://creativecommons.org for details.
Any other use
Please contact the copyright owners directly (copyright and contact details are shown for each media item) to negotiate terms and conditions for any use of Material other than those expressly permitted above. Please note that many of the contributors to ARKive are commercial operators and may request a fee for such use.
Save as permitted above, no person or organisation is permitted to incorporate any copyright material from this website into any other work or publication in any format (this includes but is not limited to: websites, Apps, CDs, DVDs, intranets, extranets, signage, digital communications or on printed materials for external or other distribution). Use of the Material for promotional, administrative or for-profit purposes is not permitted.