House Mouse

Posh Name: Mus musculus.

Diet: Herbivorous; mice are usually vegetarian, eating seeds, nuts, fruit, vegetables and any food left lying around by humans, especially cheese!

Habitat: There are hundreds of different types of mice living all over the world. Mice are very good at adapting and can live almost anywhere; at the top of mountains, in deserts, fields, forests and of course houses!

Lifespan: Most mice live to around a year old in the wild, though pet mice can live to be two or even three years old.

Size/Weight: An adult house mouse’s body and tail are usually 65cm long. A normal house mouse will fit into the palm of your hand. House mice usually weigh about 30g.

Home: Mice live in little nests which they usually build underground, or in attics, sheds, walls, skirting boards – anywhere they can find! Mice are very resourceful and build their nests out of soft things they find lying around. If you have a mouse in your house you might find that they have chewed up your shoes and socks to make their beds!

Mating and Courtship: To find a mate, male mice let out ultrasonic calls – noises so high that humans can’t hear them! They decide if they like each other by the smell of their wee! House mice usually mate with their relatives and stay living with their families, so that most mice in a small area are actually from the same family!

Babies: Mice usually have five to ten litters of around eight babies a year. This means that one mouse usually gives birth to around 80 babies a year! Baby mice are born blind, without fur or ears. Their ears open out when they are four days old, their fur starts to grow after six days and they open their eyes after two weeks. Mice are fully grown at six weeks old so they aren’t babies for long, but while they are they are nursed by their mother or another female mouse in their family. When male mice are six weeks old they will go and find their own territories, but female mice usually stay in the same territory and have babies of their own.

Defining Features: House mice are the most common mice – you will probably have seen one, if not in the wild then in a pet shop. They are bred as ‘fancy’ mice – that’s why mice in pet shops are often black, white or a combination, however wild house mice are usually brown. They have cute twitchy ears and noses, long bald tails and if you look very closely their paws look like human hands!

Peculiar Behaviour: Mice are very sociable creatures and like to talk to each other. Everyone knows that mice squeak, but the squeaks we hear are only a tiny bit of the noises they make – most of their squeaks are so high that only mice can hear them! They can also talk through their wee, which is fluorescent!

Weaponry: Mice have such sharp teeth that they can chew through concrete! This won’t protect them from many predators because they are so small, but it helps them build safe nests to hide away from predators in the first place. They are also extremely good at climbing and can climb right up walls and pipes. Their sculls are very soft so that they can squeeze through tiny, tiny holes to run away from predators!

Vulnerability: Mice are very small, and though they are fast for their size they are easy prey for cats, foxes and birds of prey. In fact, mice are the favourite food of most predators. Cats particularly like to catch mice and play with them for hours before eating them. They are not popular in houses because they use their sharp teeth to chew through electrical wires and eat up all the food in our cupboards! Most grown-ups think mice are pests and will put down mouse traps to catch them.

Weeny Mice

Mice we are, oh mice are we
We travel far, we travel free
And sometimes we are hard to see
Mice we are we, oh mice we are
We come from near, we come from far
Sometimes we like to play guitar
Mice we does, oh mice we do
We huddle down to sleep in shoes
And some fine nights we sing the blues
Mice we do, oh mice we does
We’re not like bees, we cannot buzz
We build our nests from fluff and fuzz
Mice we sing, oh mice we dance
We squeak English in England
We squeak French in France
Mice we dance, oh mice we sing
We sing to please our mouse king
We dance around him in a ring
Mice we be, oh mice we is
We like to dine and feast on cheese
And quaff away on apple fizz
Mice we is, oh mice we be
We contemplate existentially
To be a mouse or not to be!