Mice are small and invasive little creatures that carry disease, making you feel unsafe under your own roof. If you ever encounter one of these rodents, you may have many questions about them, such as: “Where did these mice come from?” “What do they eat?” “Is it true that they’ll run up an elephant’s nose and suffocate them to death?” For answers to these questions, and other facts about mice that you didn’t realize, keep reading. Here, you will learn all the secrets about mice that will help you in the future if you ever encounter one in your home.
Table of Contents
Facts About the Different Types of Mice
If you find a mouse in your home, it’s wise to know how to tell it apart from other types of mice. If you’re concerned and want to know are mice dangerous, please click here.
These are some of the more common breeds of mice that you may encounter in your residence:
- Deer Mice: Also known as “field mice”, they have a white underbelly and a brownish-beige upper pelt. Their official name is Peromyscus, from the Greek for “booted mouse” due to their white feet. Their eyes are beady and their ears are large and nearly hairless. They range between 4.5-9 inches long from the tip of their pointed nose to the end of their short, fine-haired tails.
- House Mice: These mice are often used as laboratory specimens. They have black or pink eyes. Their ears are small, round, and hairy. They can be tan, brown, black, gray, or white. They are about 5-8 inches long from nose to long, hairless tail.
- Black Mice: Black mice are actually a variety of house mice.
For more information on the different types of mice, please click here.
Can Mice Swim?
Mice are exceptional little swimmers. Some studies show that they can tread water for up to three days, and can hold their breath for up to three minutes. Mice can swim up to 1/2 mile before getting exhausted. Don’t worry about mice swimming up your toilet, though; that activity is usually reserved for rats.
Do Mice Have Backbones?
Mice do, in fact, have backbones. It’s a common myth that they don’t. What they also have are sloping, flexible collarbones, which makes it incredibly easy for them to sneak into holes the size of their heads. They also have very flexible ribs, which makes wriggling into tight places a cinch.
Mouse Geography: Where Do They Come From?
While it’s uncertain the origins of mice, it’s believed that they coexisted alongside the dinosaurs. When a comet hit the earth 66 million years ago, the larger animals died off and the smaller ones flourished.
They started in Europe and Asia and eventually made their way over to the New World on boats, where they exist today.
Early mice had to be small and inoffensive to avoid being picked off by larger predators, and it’s speculated that this is what they looked like:
They eventually evolved into the form that we know them as now.
Popular Mouse Habitats
Mice really don’t discriminate and will call just about any place home. As long as it’s warm and dry, they’re happy. If you’ve heard squeaking in your home, you may have a mouse nest nearby. To learn the many reasons why do mice squeak, click here.
Keep your home sealed properly to avoid finding mice in your:
- Attic: Mice love attics. There’s insulation, old clothes, and papers to tear up and turn into a nest; what more could they ask for?
- Basements: As long as it’s quiet and away from people and the elements, they’re happy.
- Pantries and cabinets: Quiet, dark, and has food? You’ll be sure to find a mouse there.
- Closets and drawers: There’s a good chance that if you haven’t opened the drawers or the closet door in a long time, you might have a mouse stowed away in there.
Where Do Mice Live in the Wild?
Mice out in the wild will make a home out of any available space. It’s harder to get by in the wild because they’re more likely to get eaten by predators, so they have to be extra careful when choosing a place to hide. You can find them in the city as well as in the prairie, mountains, or even swamps.
You can find mice in the following places in the wild:
- In knotholes in trees.
- In piles of rocks, in caves, or in rock walls.
- In piles of leaves and mulch.
- In unused sheds and cabins.
- In abandoned farm equipment or cars.
- In piles of firewood or lumber.
Do Mice Prefer to Live in Underground?
Some mice like to live in burrows or holes.
Some of the types of burrowing mice include:
- Wood Mice.
- Oldfield Mice (also known as a Beach Mouse).
- Yellow-Necked Mice.
- Deer Mice.
The type of burrow a mouse makes largely depends on its DNA. A deer mouse will make a simple, basic burrow with a short tunnel, but the oldfield mouse adds a little finesse to its burrow. It will include a back door for easy escape and a larger entryway.
Not all mice are burrowing mice, though, and will prefer to come indoors or hide in other places above ground.
Habits of Mice
Some rodents are nocturnal, which means they do all of their foraging at night. To find out are mice nocturnal, too, please click here.
Mice typically stay within 30 feet of their nest, and they can be very territorial. Male mice are more territorial than female mice, and they may keep a harem of female mice within their range. They will chase male mice away if they encroach on their turf.
A mouse might think a human is on its territory and might attack to defend itself against them. If you’re curious do mice bite, please click here.
Mice are social creatures, and they like to live in pairs. Male mice, of course, can’t tolerate other male mice, but they’ll accept a female mouse. There’s a good chance they’ll mate if they live together. Female mice can also live with other female mice.
Nesting Habits of Mice
How do mice build those nests that keep them safe from predators and the elements?
It’s a multi-step process that is an ongoing work-in-progress:
- They first have to scout the area where they want to live. They need to make sure it’s warm and dry and away from predators like birds and snakes.
- They then have to harvest materials that they’ll use to build their nest. They may use old fabric from clothes, shredded paper, or insulation. If they’re outdoors, they may use grass, straw, or leaves and moss.
- If they’re planning for winter, they may stock up on food for the long, cold months. They’ll hide their food in or near their nests. If you want to know do mice hibernate, please click here.
- Mice are prolific breeders and once they have their nest set up, they’ll reproduce. If you’re curious as to how many babies do mice have, please click here.
- Once the surviving mice grow up, they branch off and start to build brand new nests of their own. Over time, 24 mice can blow up to be 2,000 mice!
All About the Mouse Diet
While popular culture would want you to think mice love cheese above all other foods, that’s not necessarily true. While they’ll eat cheese if they have to, mice are omnivores and will happily chow down on a wide variety of foods, including:
- Nuts and Seeds.
- Fruits and Vegetables.
- Carrion (dead animals).
- Candy and Sweets.
- Various Bugs (worms, cockroaches, and crickets).
Mice eat all day long, around 15-20 times per day. They can eat up to 3 grams of food per day, which is impressive, considering that they only weigh 17-25 grams on average.
Do Mice Eat Their Own Young?
Sometimes mice will even eat their own young. It’s very rare that they’ll do this, but if they do, it’s because they’re stressed or their nest has too many young in it. If the baby mouse doesn’t seem like it’ll survive to adulthood or it’s sick, that’s another reason that the mother mouse will eat it.
Do Mice Eat Other Mice?
In times of famine, a mouse will hunt and kill another mouse for food. It’s extremely rare, and not their preferred source of food, but a starving mouse isn’t going to say no to a meal when it has no other choice.
Do Mice Eat Other Dead Mice?
Mice are opportunistic foragers, which means that if they encounter a dead mouse, they might eat it. If they don’t have sufficient food, that makes a mouse stuck in a trap an easy meal. If you want to know how long can mice live without food and water, please click here. It’s a gruesome reality for these dirty vermin.
Fun and Unusual Facts About Mice
There’s more to mice than you might think.
Here are some unique facts about mice that might astound you:
- There are over 30 known species of mice.
- Most modern medicine is tested on mice because their inner workings are so similar to humans!
- A mouse can handle being stung by a scorpion several times.
- Mice can tell the temperature with their whiskers.
- Mice can communicate using ultrasonic sounds.
- Mice in the wild have shorter lifespans. Please click here if you want to know how long do mice live.
- A mouse’s heart beats 632 times per minute.
Why Are Elephants Afraid of Mice?
In 77 A.D., Pliny the Elder said, “The elephant hates the mouse above all other creatures.” Today, that statement is hotly contested and some people scoff and say it’s an urban legend. Others strongly maintain that elephants are, indeed, afraid of mice. Which is the truth?
Common belief is that the mouse will crawl up the elephant’s trunk and suffocate it, since elephants have no epiglottis (the cartilage that closes the windpipe). However, that is unverified. What’s most likely is that any sudden move is startling to an elephant, causing it to flee in fear. So in actuality, it’s not the mouse that the elephant is afraid of: any small, scampering animal can trigger its startle reflex.
Do Mice Fight?
Mice do many things by instinct. If they see a female mouse, they want to breed with her. If they see a male, they become get territorial and will pick a fight. Many of these tendencies are ingrained in mice and aren’t taught – it’s just part of who they are.
These are some reasons that a mouse will fight another mouse:
- The male is encroaching on another male’s territory.
- They’re fighting for a mate.
- Sometimes mice play-fight. (This is more common with young mice.)
- They’re trying to establish dominance.
- They’re hungry and food is scarce.
How Fast Do Mice Run?
Mice are agile and nimble and are very fast runners. They can hit speeds up to 8 miles per hour – to put it into perspective, that’s as fast as a human running 160 mph!
They’re also very good jumpers and can jump one foot straight up into the air. Do you know what else are good jumpers? Fleas! To learn do mice carry fleas, please click here.
Now you know all about the various habits and unusual facts about mice. Next time somebody starts to discuss their own mouse problem with you, you’ll be able to chime in with your own facts and impress them with your knowledge about these small, hairy, and fascinating vermin.
You can find further details of Mice Control here.