by David Mueller, BCE
An excerpt from David’s book Reducing Customer Complaints in Stored Products.
The house mouse (Musmusculus) is a prolific breeder: indoors, mice breed year round. A female mouse can be sexually mature 1-1/2 months after birth, can produce 6 babies per litter, and can have as many as 10 litters in a year. That’s 60 new mice just from one pregnant female. If you assume that half of her offspring are also females that will each be producing 10 litters, you can see what you are up against.
Mice are a symptom of a condition. Change those conditions and they will leave or die.
Mice have extraordinary physical abilities: They can jump to the floor from a height of 8 feet and run up some vertical surfaces. They have excellent balance. If they do fall, they land on their feet. They can climb and run along pipes, cables, and electrical lines. They can even travel for a considerable distance upside down. They can swim. They can adapt to almost any kind of environmental conditions, even surviving for generations in a frozen meat locker. Their small body size allows them to easily stow away and be transported to new sites. They can squeeze through a slot-like opening that is little more than 1/4 inch (7 mm). These capabilities allow mice to easily move into a building and then move from floor to floor. You can see why it’s hard to completely mouse-proof a building.
Mice are rarely restricted by food or water. Mice will feed on a wide variety of food, so they’re not limited by a particular food source. They don’t need very much food to survive. A mouse eats an average of 1/10 ounce (3–5 grams) of dry food a day. Mice are nibblers, feeding 20 or more times a night at multiple sites. When a water supply is not readily available, mice can survive from the moisture in their food.
House mice are the most common rodent pests in our urban landscapes and have been labeled as a “mammalian weed” by researchers and rodentologists. Millions of dollars are spent every year managing the house mouse by pest managers and ‘do-it-yourselfers.’ But that is what makes the house mouse such a formidable foe, particularly in the fall and winter months when these cryptic pests enter our structures seeking heat, food, and refuge.