Young males and females are not easily told apart. Like Humans,
female mice have a considerably smaller distance between their
anus and genital openings. Females have five pairs of mammary
glands along with nipples with males have no nipples. When mice
are sexually mature the most prominent and obvious difference is
the presence of testicles on the males. They are large compared
to the rest of the body and can also be withdrawn into the body.
House mice normally run, walk, or stand on all fours, but when
eating and fighting they stand only on their hind legs using
their tail for support. When they run they raise their tail till
horizontal giving them better balance however, this changes when
the mouse is frightened. Mice are also very good jumpers,
climbers, and swimmers.
Mice are mostly active during dusk or at night with them not
liking bright lights. Mice live in a wide range of hidden, out
of the way places that are near food sources and construct nests
from numerous soft materials. Mice are very territorial with one
dominant male that usually lives with several females and their
young. Dominant males are respectful of each other's territory
and will only normally enter another's territory if it is
vacant. If two or more male mice are caged together, they will
often turn aggressive towards each other unless they have been
raised together from birth.
House mice mainly feed on plant material, but are omnivorous.
They will even eat their own droppings to obtain nutrients
produced by bacteria in their intestines. House mice, like most
other rodents do not vomit.
Mice are afraid of rats who will often kill and partially eat
mice. Despite this, in natural environments rats and mice do
live together in forest areas. House mice are normally poor
contestants and in most areas will not survive away from human
settlements where other small mammals, such as wood mice, are
Senses and communication
As mainly night-time animals, house mice have very little if
not, no colour vision. Their visual apparatus is in essence
similar to humans, but differs decidedly in at least one
respect. The ventral area of the mouse retina has a much greater
density of ultraviolet-sensitive cones than other areas of the
retina, although the biological significance of this structure
Mice can hear over a wide range of frequencies, from 80 Hz to
100 kHz such as the ultrasound range, but are most sensitive in
the 15–20 kHz range and around 50 kHz. They communicate in two
ranges that are the human audible range with squeaks used for
long-distance warnings, and in the ultrasound range for
House mice also rely on pheromones for more social
communication, some of which are produced by the preputial
glands of both sexes. The tear fluid and urine of male mice also
contains pheromones, such as major urinary proteins. Mice detect
pheromones mainly with the vomeronasal organ (Jacobson's organ),
located at the bottom of the nose.
The urine of a house mouse, especially that of males, has a
distinguishing strong odour. There are at least 10 different
compounds such as alkanes, alcohols, etc, that are detectable in
the urine. Among them are five compounds that are specific to
males, namely 3-cyclohexene-1-methanol, aminotriazole
(3-amino-s-triazole), 4-ethyl phenol, 3-ethyl-2,7-dimethyl
octane and 1-iodoundecane.
Scents from adult males or from pregnant or lactating females
can speed up or delay sexual maturing in juvenile females and
can synchronise reproductive cycles in mature females. Odours of
unfamiliar male mice may terminate pregnancies.
Mice can sense surfaces and air movements with their whiskers
which are also used during orientation. Mice are blind from
birth leading to super-normal growth of the whiskers presumably
as a compensatory response, or if the whiskers are absent, the
use of vision is intensified.
A mouse can be annoying where mice can be a bigger problem!
Getting rid of mice can be done in many ways such as the use of
traps that kill or catch and poisons. Controlling mice in and
around your home must be taken seriously as they can introduce
illnesses to your family as well as transfer fleas to pets.