Temporal range: ate Miocene – Recent
|House mouse, Mus musculus|
A mouse (plural mice) is a rodent, which is a kind of mammal. It has a pointed snout, small rounded ears, a body-length scaly tail and a high breeding rate. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse (Mus musculus). It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. They are known to invade homes for food and occasionally shelter.
These small animals are often used in science experiments, or sometimes kept as pets. Some mice carry diseases. This causes some people to think of mice as vermin or pests. Many other people think mice are cute and fun animals. Mice are rodents, therefore they are related to squirrels, rats, and beavers. Mice eat weeds, seeds, berries, and more. They are eaten by owls, foxes, and cats, amongst others.
Types of mice
The word "mouse" should only be used for small murines, but does get used for other distantly-related small rodents. The murines are the largest subfamily of mammals. In fact, it is larger than almost all mammal orders.
The common house mouse is thought of as a pest. They are found in the homes of humans.
Voles are not mice, they are in a different family of rodents.
These are not mice either, or only distantly related. These mice live in forests. They can run and jump better than mice, and they get their common name from this.
The aggressive grasshopper mouse rarely eats other mice, but it does like grasshoppers and insects. It is also only a distant relative.
Many people buy mice as companion pets. They can be playful, loving and can grow used to being handled. Like pet rats, pet mice should not be left unsupervised outside as they have many natural predators, including (but not limited to) birds, snakes, lizards, cats, and dogs. Male mice tend to have a stronger odor than the females. However, mice are careful groomers and as pets they never need bathing. Well looked-after mice can make ideal pets. Some common mouse care products are:
- Cage – Usually a hamster or gerbil cage, but a variety of special mouse cages are now available. Most should have a secure door.
- Food – Special pelleted and seed-based food is available. Mice can generally eat most rodent food (for rats, mice, hamsters, gerbils, etc.)
- Bedding – Usually made of hardwood pulp, such as aspen, sometimes from shredded, uninked paper or recycled virgin wood pulp. Using corn husk bedding is avoided because it promotes Aspergillus fungus, and can grow mold once it gets wet, which is rough on their feet.
In nature, mice are largely herbivores, consuming any kind of fruit or grain from plants. However, mice adapt well to urban areas and are known for eating almost all types of food scraps. In captivity, mice are commonly fed commercial pelleted mouse diet. These diets are nutritionally complete, but they still need a large variety of vegetables.
Mice in media
Chuck E. Cheese is another famous mouse. He is the mascot of Chuck E. Cheese's pizza restaurants.
Images for kids
Mouse Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.