Facts

15 Important Facts About Mice You Must Know

Written by David Johnson

Contents

The most important thing you can do to keep your home mouse-free is to know what you are dealing with. As you will read below, not all mice are created equal, some are much more dangerous than others. Further, not every mouse can be dealt with using the same method.

1. You Don’t Just Have One Mouse

If you’ve recently seen a mouse scurrying along the wall before disappearing behind your furniture or down a vent, you already have a family of them. If you’ve seen mice at both ends of your home, chances are you have more than one family. Where there’s one mouse, there are usually half a dozen more holed up in a nest.

If you’ve had mice for more than 2 months, chances are they’ve been multiplying inside your walls. If you leave the mice alone and only focus on preventing more mice from coming inside your house, you’ll still have some trapped inside. One way or another, you’ll have to do something to get them out if you don’t want to share your food with them forever.

2. Mice (and Rats) Can Be Carriers of Up to 35 Diseases

Rodents of all sizes are capable of carrying as many as 35 diseases, all of which may be transferred to humans (though not all of them will affect a human host.) The transfer can be direct or indirect.

Direct disease transfers some from eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. It’s also possible to pick something up from handling mice even if you aren’t scratched or bitten. Always clean any areas mice have been in thoroughly, wear gloves or use another barrier where possible, and wash your hands after.

Indirect transfers happen when ticks, mites, and even fleas from the mouse bite a human. Pets are also at risk of becoming infected, though they are susceptible to fewer diseases, on average, than people.

3. One Female Mouse Has an Average of 50 Pups a Year

Remember that thing about not having just one mouse? If you have a single family of mice in your house, that family can become a small mouse city in just a few months. If left to their own devices, female mice will deliver a new litter of pups every 25 to 35 days in ideal conditions.

Given that figure, not every female mouse will have a litter every cycle. Things would have to be a little too convenient for that to be the case. With every litter having about 10 pups, a female is more likely to have a litter every other month, giving her plenty of time to spend with her current litter before mating again.

4. Indoors, Mice Can live up to Eight Years

The average lifespan of outdoor mice is just one year. Laboratory mice live about two years, often dying of less than natural causes. House mice, if no effort is made to capture them, fair much better than outdoor mice, potentially having a lifespan that will rival that of pet mice.

Given ideal circumstances, plenty of food and water and shelter, a mouse can live a much longer life. On average, that means just a few years. However, mice born healthy and into ideal circumstances can live up to eight years.

5. Mice Mark Their Territory

In case you didn’t already guess, mice mark their territory with urine and the smells contained in that urine. They do this to let other mice know where their territory begins and ends. It also broadcasts age, health, and fertility levels.

If you have mice, there is pee everywhere. You just might not be able to see it. Cleaning up after them is going to be a chore, but until the infestation is gone you have to do it. Keeping your home clean will help discourage more mice from entering and erase the boundaries and notes any current “house guests” have set for other mice.

The one good thing about these “trails” is that they can show you exactly where to put your traps. If a mouse keeps returning to a favorite spot, placing bait there could be a great way to catch it.

This type of message sending may also interfere with how you set your traps. Makes sure traps are cleaned after every use, so there are no warning signs. Further, if you have very crafty mice, it may help to feed them a bit with traps that haven’t been set. That way, in a week, you can set the trap and mice will go back to it for more “safe” food.

6. Mice are Invasive and Can Reach Almost Anywhere

Mice like other mice, not just their own families. One mouse can lead other mice into your home directly and indirectly. They mark pathways, as mentioned above, and gnaw doors and tunnels.

If you have experience with mice, you also know that they’re verifiable “mini Houdini”s. Faster than you can blink, it would seem, a mouse can run across a room and disappear into a vent grate. That vent grate may even appear to be much, much smaller than the mouse. In fact, any mouse should be able to squeeze through a hole as small as a quarter inch in diameter. Smaller mice can fit through smaller holes.

When you go through your home looking for access points, keep in mind that even the smallest places could be where mice are getting in. Don’t overlook anything, you can’t underestimate how flexible mice can be.

7. Excellent Athletes – Mice Can Jump 5x Their Height and More

Mice are born with a natural athletic ability. They are built to survive a variety of conditions, from heavy rain and sudden flooding to ice-slicked hills and falling trees. In numbers, mice can tread water for as long as three days and swim for about half a mile. They can hold their breath for up to three minutes.

Mice can also jump 12 to 15 inches high and scale smooth walls for a slightly higher distance. The average mouse can also run 8 miles per hour. They can also survive a one-story drop in most cases, even onto a relatively hard surface.

8. Mice Are Nocturnal (Most of the Time)

Under normal conditions, mice are nocturnal. That means that they sleep during the day and only come out at night. Even when they are deprived of natural light, their biological rhythms tend to keep them in sync with this cycle. However, in times of stress or illness, mice tend to become diurnal instead of or in addition to being nocturnal.

Diurnal mice tend to be awake more during dawn and into daytime. Some mice, such as those found in pet stores, have shown a tendency toward diurnal behavior instead of more natural nocturnal behavior. It is believed that this is a potential genetic defect as mice have poor eyesight in bright light.

9. One Mouse Can Leave a Trail for Other Mice to Follow

Yes, mice want in most homes because they know homes are warm. Once there they may find abundant food, water, and shelter from predators. They may want to share this bounty. Though mice are territorial, they are still social creatures. It’s not unheard of for some mice to attract others, including potential mates and other members of their colony to a new, better habitat. Mice can do this either directly, through scent trails, or using a combination of the two.

10. Mice Have Far Better Hearing than Humans

Mice communicate through sound and scent. The sounds mice make, on a regular basis, are very difficult or even impossible for people to hear. Your pets, if you have them, can usually hear this communication. Dogs and cats, with their more acute hearing, detect higher pitched sounds and may point you to the exact spot a mouse or other rodent is hiding in the walls.

Ultrasonic pest repellers may disrupt this form of communication. They may also annoy a family of mice into moving, sometimes out of the house but more often just into the next room and farther from the repeller.

11. Mice Create Stockpiles

One of the most difficult things to clean up after an infestation of mice has been dealt with is their nest. Further, as you deal with the damage you are sure to find stockpiles all around your home. Mice are natural hoarders. They can bring food from outside, like weeds and acorns, and hide them everywhere. It’s not unusual to find seeds or pellets or pet food tucked inside an old pair of shoes, the back of a sock drawer, or inside your baking pans.

Further, it’s important to clean the area a stockpile is found in thoroughly. These piles can be covered in mouse urine and saliva, potentially becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. Don’t try to salvage things from them unless you are absolutely sure they can be cleaned.

12. Mice Can Be Genetically Immune to Some Poisons

Horizontal gene transfer in mice has led to a few surprising discoveries. First, over the last few years, the vast majority of mice in Europe and North America have developed an immunity to many types of commercial rodent poison.

The best example is Warfarin. This poison is very common and sold in most farm store across the country. In the supplied amounts it poses less risk to humans than other poisons but is very dangerous to small creatures. Warfarin works by coagulating the blood of mice to the point that it no longer circulates properly.

However, many mice are now completely unaffected by Warfarin. The same has happened with a handful of other popular poisons. The surprising thing is how quickly it happened. Widespread genetic changes usually take a much longer time to show up in the general population.

13. Mice Can Eat Almost Anything

If a mouse wants to live a full life, it should avoid certain foods, just like people. However, if a mouse’s goal is just to live long enough to procreate and make the most of its average lifespan, it can eat nearly anything.

As the previous fact pointed out, mice are incredibly resilient. They have evolved rapidly to coexist with whatever gets thrown their way. That means they can eat whatever we can eat and more. What mice eat, however, might not have anything to do with nutrition.

14. Mice Feel a Biological Compulsion to Gnaw

Mice have teeth that grow from the moment they are born until the moment they die. This has left them with a biological compulsion to gnaw on anything that’s nearby. They don’t even need to be able to gnaw through it to achieve a sense of satisfaction. That means nearly every substance is susceptible to bite marks.

The one thing mice don’t like to chew on? Metal. That’s why it’s always a great idea to stuff mouse holes with steel wool and tin foil. Mice find metal discouraging and unpleasant to chew on. Any other substance, from tape to drywall and even plastic, is susceptible to another breakthrough.

15. “Poisoned” Mice Can Become a Threat to Their Natural Predators

It’s tricky to use poison the right way when it comes to mice. As mentioned above, they may be immune. Further, their hoarding behavior makes it possible for the poison to spread around. Further, affected mice are easy targets for predators.

Maybe you don’t care if a predator gets sick if it eats a mouse. But what if that predator is your own pet? A poisoned mouse is enough to cause severe, permanent damage to a cat. It can be life-threatening to a small dog if ingested. The effects might not be immediate, but when they appear you need to get to a vet as soon as possible.

House Mice Can Be More Dangerous Than They Appear

On the whole, mice are cute. But they’re cute outside or as pets, not loose in your home. Their unhygienic habits and ability to accumulate and spread disease can endanger you, children, and pets. Their tendencies to hoard and gnaw can damage your home and even lead to electrical fires or damaged appliances and utilities. Don’t underestimate mice.

About the author

David Johnson

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