One of the most abundant and widespread mammals around the globe, the House mouse (Mus musculus) is found in almost any part of the world (except Antarctica) due to human travel. This rodent originated in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India. Along with many other major animals, it is thought to have appeared around 500,000 years ago, in the Cambrian Period. Firstly, a mouse-like fossil was found in China. This turned out to be the earliest known ancestor of the House mouse and generally, all placental mammals, even humans. During the Early Cretaceous Period, about 125 million years ago, when birds began to emerge, there came to be an animal called 'Eomaia scansoria', which was a contemporary of dinosaurs. In course of time, the House mice have managed to occupy nearly all habitats with a constant source of food. They usually live 1-1.5 years in the wild and about 2 years in captivity but can live up to 6 years.
Nocturnality is an animal behavior characterized by being active during the night and sleeping during the day. The common adjective is "nocturnal",...
An omnivore is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and ani...
Terrestrial animals are animals that live predominantly or entirely on land (e.g., cats, ants, snails), as compared with aquatic animals, which liv...
Altricial animals are those species whose newly hatched or born young are relatively immobile. They lack hair or down, are not able to obtain food ...
Animals with cosmopolitan distribution are those whose range extends across all or most of the world in appropriate habitats. Another aspect of cos...
A cursorial organism is one that is adapted specifically to run. An animal can be considered cursorial if it has the ability to run fast (e.g. chee...
A territory is a sociographical area that which an animal consistently defends against the conspecific competition (or, occasionally, against anima...
Among animals, viviparity is the development of the embryo inside the body of the parent. The term 'viviparity' and its adjective form 'viviparous'...
A burrow is a hole or tunnel excavated into the ground by an animal to create a space suitable for habitation, temporary refuge, or as a byproduct ...
Polygyny is a mating system in which one male lives and mates with multiple females but each female only mates with a single male.
A dominance hierarchy (formerly and colloquially called a pecking order) is a type of social hierarchy that arises when members of animal social gr...
NoNot a migrant
Animals that do not make seasonal movements and stay in their native home ranges all year round are called not migrants or residents.
Domesticated animals are those adapted to live with humans. It is the mutual relationship between animals and humans who have an influence on their...
In the wild House mice vary in color from grey and light brown to black (individual hairs are actually agouti colored), but domesticated fancy mice and laboratory mice are produced in many colors ranging from white to champagne to black. They have short hair and some, but not all, subspecies have light bellies. The ears and tail have little hair. The hind feet are short, only 15-19 mm (9⁄16-3⁄4 in) long; the normal gait is run with a stride of about 4.5 cm (1+3⁄4 in), though they can jump vertically up to 45 cm (18 in). The tail, which is used for balance, has only a thin covering of hair as it is the main peripheral organ of heat loss in thermoregulation along with the hairless parts of the paws and ears. Tail length varies according to the environmental temperature of the mouse during postnatal development, so mice living in colder regions tend to have shorter tails. The tail is also used for balance when the mouse is climbing or running, or as a base when the animal stands on its hind legs (a behavior known as tripoding), and to convey information about the dominance status of an individual in encounters with other mice.
Firstly appearing on the steppes of central Asia and, probably, the Mediterranean region, the House mouse has become commonly widespread worldwide, being introduced by humans. This rodent is a commensal, sharing its habitat with humans. In urban areas, this animal is commonly found in houses, shops, malls, warehouses, factories, coal mines, and, occasionally, cold stores. Meanwhile, those in rural areas occupy farm buildings, rubbish tips, piggeries, poultry houses, granaries, and open fields. They typically construct their nests in secluded places such as woodpiles, beneath floors, or behind rafters. Individuals in the wild prefer living in crevices in rocks or in burrows, usually located underground; they can also be found in coastal sand dunes, salt marshes, and scrubby areas.
The House mouse is generally a nocturnal animal, although it can be active diurnally during food shortages. Moving around, they rely on their speed and agility to remain unspotted and escape predators. The only purpose they travel is to get food. They usually forage within a small territory of around 30 feet in diameter, every time using the same paths. House mice may be either solitary or social. They are territorial and one dominant male usually lives together with several females and young. Dominant males respect each other's territories and normally enter another's territory only if it is vacant. House mice don't undergo hibernation and remain active throughout the year. These rodents are widely known for their agility. They are excellent swimmers and accomplished jumpers. In addition, they possess a perfect sense of balance. When communicating with conspecifics, the House mice primarily use scent along with well-developed senses of hearing and smell.
House mice are omnivores. Individuals in the wild mainly feed upon seeds, fleshy roots, leaves, stems, and other vegetation material, supplementing this diet with insects such as beetle larvae, caterpillars, and cockroaches as well as meat, including occasional carrion. Those in urban areas often share a human diet. In addition, these rodents are known to use household materials such as glue or soap.
House mice have a polygynous mating system, which means that one male mates with multiple females. About 30% of individuals in the wild exhibit a polyandrous mating system, where each female has multiple mates during the breeding season. Mating occurs year-round with a peak period, lasting from late spring to early autumn, especially in populations, inhabiting northern parts of their range. When conditions are favorable, females may yield as many as 5-10 litters per year, each one containing 3-12 young with an average of 5-6. Moreover, there have been known cases of females, producing up to 14 litters in a single year. The duration of pregnancy depends on whether the female is lactating or not. Usually, the gestation period lasts 19-21 days in non-lactating females and longer - in lactating ones. Newborn babies of this species are blind and lack fur. They attain their coat at 10 days old, opening their eyes by 14 days of age. Weaning occurs at 3 weeks old, and the age of sexual maturity is 5-7 weeks old.
On one hand, House mice are killed in large numbers in scientific research. On the other hand, these animals are persecuted and killed around the globe due to being considered pests for a number of reasons: they consume stored grains; their burrows often damage root crops; these rodents move into homes, thus disturbing humans; and finally, these mice carry multiple diseases that are very dangerous to humans. As a result, millions of mice are killed annually.
According to IUCN, the House mouse is widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. However, according to the People’s Trust for Endangered Species resource, Great Britain's population size is around 5,400,000 individuals. Overall, House mice’s numbers are stable today, and the animals are classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.
House mice play a very important role in the ecosystem of their habitat. Firstly, these animals are key prey species for local predators. Secondly, consuming weed seeds and insects, keep them under control, thus benefiting the local ecosystem.
The House mouse has been domesticated as the pet or fancy mouse (a type of pocket pet), and as the laboratory mouse, which is one of the most important model organisms in biology and medicine. The first written reference to mice kept as pets occur in the Erya, the oldest extant Chinese dictionary, from a mention in an 1100 BC version. Human domestication led to numerous strains of "fancy" or hobby mice with a variety of colors and a docile temperament. Domestic varieties of the House mouse are bred as a food source for some carnivorous pet reptiles, birds, arthropods, and fish. The effects of domestication can be rapid, with captive-reared mice differing in boldness and activity patterns compared to wild-caught mice after 4-5 generations in recent research.