Houston Home Inspector Provides Information About The House
Description: Grayish brown above; nearly as dark below. Tail dusky above and below; nearly hairless; less than
half the body length. Ungrooved incisors. L 5 1/8–7 3/4" (130–198 mm); T 2 1/2–4" (63–102 mm); HF 1/2–7/8" (14–21
mm); E 3/8"– 3/4" (11–18 mm); Wt 5/8–3/4 oz (18–23 g).
- Similar Species Deer mice (Peromyscus species) have white under parts. Harvest mice have grooved
- Breeding Gestation 18–21 days; several litters per year, each of 3–16 young; reproduces spring through fall
in North, year-round in South.
- Sign Musky odor. In buildings: small dark droppings, damaged materials, holes in insulation, and shredded
nesting material; in fields: small dark droppings, small holes in the ground.
- Habitat Buildings; areas with good ground cover, especially cultivated fields. Uncommon in undisturbed or
- Range Pacific Coast south from Alaska through w and s Canada and throughout all of continental U.S.
- The House Mouse originated in Asia and spread throughout Europe many centuries ago. In the early 16th
century, it arrived in Florida and Latin America on ships of the Spanish explorers and conquistadores, and
about a century later came to the northern shores of North America along with English and French explorers,
traders, and colonists. The House Mouse makes its own nest but lives in groups, sharing escape holes and common
areas for eating, urinating, and defecating. It takes turns grooming its fellows, especially on the head and
back, where it is difficult for the animal to groom itself. If the population grows too dense, many females,
particularly adolescents, become infertile. A highly migratory existence and rapid rate of reproduction enable
the House Mouse to thrive; it takes advantage of situations not readily available to other species, including
cultivated fields, which offer a rich if temporary habitat. As a crop develops, the mice move in and have
several litters in quick succession, building large populations quickly; when the field is harvested or plowed,
they move out. Many perish, many find other fields, and still others invade buildings. Sometimes these
migrations assume plague proportions: In 1926–1927, an estimated 82,000 mice per acre (202,000 per ha) wreaked
havoc in the Central Valley of California.
- In such densities, House Mice, though generally timid, have been known to run over people’s feet and even
to bite. In cultivated fields, some of their actions are beneficial, as they feed heavily on weed seeds, with
foxtail grass a favorite, along with caterpillars and other insects; in houses, barns, and storage buildings,
they are entirely destructive. These mice eat or their droppings contaminate large quantities of grain and
other valuable foodstuffs. Their scientific name derives from the Sanskrit musha, meaning "thief." They chew or
shred anything chewable or shreddable, including furniture and wires, and sometimes start fires. They can
scurry up rough vertical walls and even pipes; they gnaw holes in walls, floors, and baseboards. Like Black and
Norway rats, House Mice can spread disease. In the wild, birds and mammals are predators. Centuries ago, cooked
mouse meat was a folk remedy for colds, coughs, fits, and fevers, but it is not recommended today. The white
mice used in research laboratories are albinos bred from this species.