Knowing how long mice can survive without food or water can help you defeat them!

Edited by
Inga Cryton
Reading Time: 18 minutes.
Updated: .

There are many methods for eradicating a mouse infestation, ranging from baited traps to electronic deterrents to all-natural products. But preventing them from getting the food and water they need can certainly play a role in getting rid of your unwelcome rodent boarders.

The truth is, it’s not as easy as you think to get rid of mice by means of starvation or dehydration. They are very resilient animals, as most pests are. And they can wait out a “famine” for longer than you may realize is possible.

That said, it is possible to deprive mice of the food and water they need, in sufficient quantities, so as to assist in mouse control (though this is seldom a solution by itself.)


There are many facts about mice that most people are completely unaware of. One of them is this: mice can only live 2 to 4 days without consuming at least some food.

Mice can only live a few days without food.

Mice and cornMice get most of their moisture (water) from the food they eat, typically. That means that they can only survive as long without food as most animals (and people) can go without water – a few days.

Mice tend to nibble little bits of food frequently, and they can get into places where food is stored through even penny-sized holes. You often won’t even be aware of what kind of food they are eating or where their food supply is located.

Also realize that even a small store of food, or just crumbs lying around on your floors, can last a long time and keep mice alive and well.

However, here are some ways to limit if not eliminate your mice’s food supply:

  • Sealing off all known potential mouse food sources.
  • Keep your kitchen floor and whole house clean, free of food crumbs.
  • Exterminate insect pests in your home that mice might eat.
  • Don’t leave the dog or cat bowl out full of food – mice will eat it!


Rather than banking all you hopes on dehydrating (or starving) your mice, you need to find out how to kill mice or at least how to get rid of mice.

Mice without waterUnderstand that while mice can only go a few days without food (they’re not into fasting), they can go literally months without taking a single drink of water.

But mice will certainly take a drink when they can. And if you eliminate food but leave water readily available, they’ll drink the water to survive. So even though the effects won’t be overwhelming, do your best to eliminate mouse’s water supplies – it helps at least a little at least, in conjunction with eliminating their food supplies.

What about baby mice?
Baby mice, called “pups, ” drink the milk of their mother for the first 2 weeks of their lives. By three weeks, they are roaming about outside the nest in search of their own food. But mama mouse needs more food/water during pregnancy and while caring for young – and tightening their food supply will make more difficult for mice to maintain a booming population.

Here are some ways to deprive your mice of water:

  • Don’t leave water out in a dog or cat dish.
  • Don’t leave standing water in sinks or tubs.
  • Keep your indoor air dry with a dehumidifier or other method. This cuts down on “drinkable” condensation.
  • Make sure the crawl space, basement, and areas just outside the home are free of standing water or puddles.

But truth be known, you can’t easily kill mice by trying to eliminate food and water. You need to combine that with other methods.

Here is a three-step plan to do that:

  1. Reduce/eliminate food and water supplies as mentioned above in this article.
  2. Set up traps with food mice can’t resist (like peanut butter or cream cheese) – this forces mice to eat the bait and/or poisoned food.
  3. After your mouse supply seems to have petered out, use electronic and natural mouse deterrents to keep them out. And seal off any known entry points.

Can They Survive Their Whole Lives Without Drinking Water?

With literally no food and water, mice will either die or leave your premises in search of sustenance. As long as they have plenty of food/water in you house, they will stay there for life.

Interesting facts about Domestic miceClick this link for an answer to the question “How long do mice live?” But understand, they will live up to four times longer in ideal conditions, such as in your food and water rich home!

While it is unlikely that a mouse would go its entire life without taking a drink of water, it is certainly possible. As long as the animal is getting enough moisture (water, after all) from its food, it can go without water. It’s would be like humans surviving on watermelons and grapes and never drinking “actual water.”

Thus, mice can live a long while without water and only a short while without food. Targeting their food/water supply is a good component to an anti-mouse strategy, but it won’t likely work alone. Combine it with other methods, however, and you enhance the overall effectiveness.

You can find further details of Mice Control here.

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  1. I have a field mouse caught under a upside down trash can! How long can it stay alive without food and water???? I have a big brick on top of the trash can. I’m terrified of mice!!!!!! I can’t slowly move can by the door, because it has a big bottom door threshold. Freaking out here! How long will it take to die???? How will i know its dead??? I will not and cannot lift the can until it is dead ! Please reply.asap.

    • Hi! How many days did you wait out until you eventually raised the bin? What size was it?

      The scenario given above seems likely to based on rats that are loose in the house or come in for visits. If they are visiting and can’t feed they may not return and if they are living under your roof and can’t find anything they will leave.

      Well, I have one trapped inside an old stove. The thing still works so I tried lighting the oven thinking the heat will do the trick but it didn’t. The bugger is within the walls of the stove. I would say he’s about five or six inches (minus the tail).
      Don’t ask how he fit himself in there.

      Heard him scratching at the four inch thick wooden barrication last night. So far its been 48 hours. Wondering if I should wait for the scent of death but that scent takes so long to leave. I killed a little one some months ago and it took a couple weeks for it to dissipate.

      Any feedback would be appreciated.


      • I conferred with a psychologist friend and his advice is “Grow the f. up!”


  2. you can’t know everythiing, you miss whole point. I can

  3. You horrible, cruel people! How callous you are in taking a little life! Imagine how terrified each of those mice must have been. Trapped under a can. Trapped in a stove. And to slowly starve to death! What a terrible way to die! Use live traps and find someone with a heart to help you get the poor creatures out safely, for God’s sake!

    • I hope they’ll come to your place

    • Mice can chew through your electrical wires causing house fires, carry 6 kinds of diseases and bite you when your asleep.
      Pls forward your address soz I can post them and their whole extended family to you

  4. I am normally humane. But when these rodents invade my living quarters they lose all sympathy, I will do whatever it takes to eliminate them. My current, homemade, mousetrap drowns them; recently got four in one night. (FWIW, these wretched creatures can tread water for about twenty minutes before succumbing to exhaustion. My nod to humane treatment is adding a tablespoon of oil to the water, they last about five minutes then.)

  5. Why not live trap it as you suggested then you take it and release in your residence? It’s your idea so why not take ownership of it and do something other than criticize.

  6. Penny size hole is nonsense. They can get through a 6 mil. / quarter inch hole.

  7. Assuming that the author is US, a US penny is 0.75 inches or 19 mm wide. 0.75 inches > quarter inch.

    For the person with the upside-down garbage can, that’s when you slide something thin and rigid underneath it.

    • Mice are nasty creatures that cause disease.

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