House mouse

(Mus musculus)




Facts about this animal

The house mouse is a relatively small mouse with a head-body lenght of usually less than 10 cm. The tail is of about the same lenght as head and body, or slightly longer (76-95 mm), and the hind foot measures 16-19 mm. The body-weight rarely exceeds 30 g. The head is relatively small and the ears are large, broad and oval in shape. There are 16 teeth - 4 gnawing teeth and 12 molars. The tail has 150 rings.


The colour of the common house mouse is light brown to black above and whitish below, often with a buffy wash and tail that is lighter below.


There are both commensal and wild forms of the house mouse. The commensal forms often move out from buildings into surrounding fields in the spring and summer and return to the shelter of the buildings in the fall. Commensal house mice are active at any hour (the wild forms seem to be active mainly at night). Their range of movement is very limited and may comprise as few as 15 m².


The house mouse is not afraid of water and swims well. Nests are often made in the vicinity of rich food sources and consists of soft shredded material.


House mice reproduce at any time of the year, when provided enough food is available, and may have five or more litters a year. After a gestation period of 21 days, the female gives birth to usually blind and naked 5-6 young (in laboratory mice as many as 20!), which are weaned after about 3 weeks. On an average, they live for about 3 months and in the wild never get older than 20 months.


House mice are opportunistic feeders, preferring cereals, but taking also all kind of foodstuffs, glue, soap, and other household articles, usually damaging much more than they eat. They catch and eat also insects.

Did you know?
That they are, together with the rat, considered to be the most widespread terrestrial mammal other than humans?


Name (Scientific) Mus musculus
Name (English) House mouse
Name (French) Souris domestique, Souris grise
Name (German) Hausmaus
Name (Spanish) Ratón común
Local names Croatian: Domai miš
Czech: Myš domácí
Danish: Lys husmus
Dutch: Huismuis
Estonian: Koduhiir
Finnish: Kotihiiri
Hungarian: Házi egér
Icelandic: Húsamús
Italian: Topolino delle case
Latvian: Naminé pelé
Norwegian: Husmus
Polish: Mysz domowa
Portuguese: Camundongo
Romansh: Mieur grischa
Slovenian: Miška
Swedish: Husmus
Turkish: Ev faresi
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Milos Andera



Range Originally native to Asia and humans introduced them all over the world. Generally, there are three subspecies of Mus musculus recognized: M. m. musculus from eastern Europe, M. m. castaneus from southeastern Asia, and M. m. domesticus
Habitat In areas near to human habitation and open fields
Wild population Unknown, but very common (Red List IUCN 2011).
Zoo population 3693 reported to ISIS (2006) but this species is a popular animal pet and they are by far the most commonly used laboratory animal.

In the Zoo

House mouse


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 81 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Milos Andera

Why do zoos keep this animal

House mice -or often domesticated colour mice - can make an interesting exhibit, in particular for children. They are displayed primarily for educational reasons because it is partly a commensal species, which may transmit disease to humans, and an invasive species which now frequents most of the world and may contribute to the extinction of endemic island fauna.