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Mouse

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Mouse
Mouse.jpg
Scientific Classification
Species
  • M. musculus
  • M. booduga
  • M. orangiae

Mice are any of the species of rodents belonging to the taxonomic genus Mus. They are perhaps best known as a pest for their tendency to invade people's homes. Mice often live in man-made structures like farmhouses, sheds, and even stores. Wherever there is a ready and open food-supply, mice will show up. They have a short gestation period of only twenty days and a mother can have up to twenty-four pups. The pups also mature quickly and are soon able to mate themselves. For these reasons, mice reproducing quickly making extermination all the more necessary when household notices and infestation. Although they are often despised, mice are very vital to the environment. They provide food to many animals to keep the ecosystem balanced like it was made to be.

Body Design

The body of a mouse can weigh less than one ounce. It has short hair all over its body called fur. This fur is shorter on the belly of the mouse but is shortest on its tail and ears. It is also lighter in color on the belly of the mouse. A mouse has small black eyes that prefer the dark of night to daylight, making the organism nocturnal. They also cannot see color. The whiskers are a very large feature on their face. Mice travel quickly and their strides are very long. This is because the hind legs are actually shorter than its front legs. The tail of a mouse can be so long that it could be the same length as the body. In other words, these tails could be six to eight inches long, which could make their bodies the same length. Therefore a mouse could be up to sixteen inches long from nose to the tip of the tail. [1]

Because the sense of sight is not as strong in a mouse, their senses of touch, smell, and hearing are fairly strong. Their pointed snout gives them their most developed sense of all, their sense of smell. Mice communicate not only with high-pitched sounds but also pheromones. These pheromones are excreted by preputial glands and are picked up by the nose. They are sensed by an olfactory organ in the nasal passage. Mice also use their whiskers to feel the world around them. They use them to sense movement in the air. When a mouse's whiskers are disturbed, it triggers the nerves attached to the hair follicles. These sensations are then sent as impulses by the nerves to the cerebral cortex. Mice also have very large ears for sharp hearing. These creatures can hear ultrasonic sounds and they communicate with high pitched noises that humans cannot hear. [2]

Life Cycle

These are three pups about one week old, still blind but with ears open and color just appearing on their skin.

Mice, on average, can live up to two years. Wild mice, though, live a much shorter life. However, wild mice in captivity can live up to six years! Mice are fully matured in in the fourth to eighth week. This is the time that they reproduce and are fertile. The life of the female, though, can be lost if she conceives too young. Females are in heat, or in the estrus period, every four to five days and as little as 14-hours after pregnancy. The gestation period is on average around twenty days and a female could birth up to 24 pups in a litter. First time mothers, though, could have as little as one pup. A female can have around eight litters per year give-or-take. [3]

Pups are also born blind and hairless. [4] These mice are capable of rabid reproduction. They breed and reproduce no matter the season. They go into heat very early which allows them to spread quickly. Their ears can open up on day three, but others don't start working until later on after birth. After the first two weeks their eyes open up as well. By the second week of life, pups begin to move around and can eat solid food instead of weaning (feeding on mother's milk). In the next couple weeks after, pups enter the "flea stage" where they are very skittish. [5]

Ecology

Often mice, like house mice, preside in man-made buildings. They are found in homes, sheds, frozen meat stores, farm outbuildings, and even coal mines. People also spot mice in coastlands, natural forests, grasslands, and shrublands. They can become very high in population because they multiply quickly and can fill up an area. [6] Mice are found all over the world in most countries. They eat seeds, grains, nuts, fruit, and the like, so if they are not house mice they usually live in tall grass or wheat or oat fields where they can obtain food. [7] Mice can be found on the bottom of the food chain. Almost any animal would be happy eating a mouse if they had to. When it comes to natural predators, though, the most known are those of the feline or canine families. Also well known are flying predators like owls and carnivorous reptiles like snakes. [8]

Mice are often seen as pests, which they are to humans. They get into people's homes, carry diseases, and eat our food, but they are also very helpful in balancing our ecosystem. Mice serve as so many different animal's food source. With out mice, many animals would not have enough to eat.

Infestation and Extermination

Mouse skeleton in an old mouse trap from 2008.

If there are any holes in any place throughout a home, mice can infest it. With their soft, small bodies they are able to fit into small holes or cracks in a house's walls or roof. It is important to be aware of infestation because most homeowners do not notice mice in their home until extermination is very necessary. It is also possible for mice to crawl through sewer lines and into the home. Drainage and sewer pipes must be properly installed, if they are not, mice can crawl into sinks, bathtubs, or other openings. During winter or fall, or at any time when temperatures lower, the likeliness of an infestation decreases. When a colony of mice finds a safe, warm home, they often will not leave for the cold season. In order to prevent infestation and avoid extermination needs, all cracks and holes anywhere in the home must be sealed off to the outside. All sewage problems also must be fixed to really avoid a mice problem. Also, seal food lids tight and don't leave anything out because an open food supply will surely attract rodents. [9] Avoiding a mouse infestation all together would be ideal. The cleaning that has to be done after an extermination is rather tedious. It is good to bleach the house and then air it out after cleaning out the mice. While cleaning, it is good to wear a face mask and old clothes. These clothes should also be disposed of after the infestation. [10]

As soon as someone notices a mouse infestation in their house, call an exterminator. Mice reproduce and spread rapidly so the faster you get rid of them, the easier it will be. So, it is best to start early and eliminate the colony before it gets out of control. Extermination techniques include: snap traps, glue traps, electrical traps, and live traps. Snap, glue, and electrical traps are designed to kill the rodent, while live traps catch the mice to be released outside of the home. People often think to use poison to remove pests, but this is not ideal. Mouse poisons are often dangerous to people and pets as well as invaders. Also, when mice are poisoned they scurry back to the walls to die among their colonies. When they die, they leave a foul odor in the house. [11] They also reside in storage boxes in attics. Before beginning extermination, you should identify the infestation as mice. If another animal or rodent, there are different procedures to get rid of them. Clawing and gnawing sounds in the walls or around the home are often audible. The mice in a home will every so often have to come out in search for food. Homeowners often leave traps or bait around the house at night in hopes of catching the mice. [12]

Video

Mice can be very smart animals! Like finding their way into a house, they can find their way out of a maze.

References

  1. Facts About Mice Buzzle. Web. 26 February 2013 (Date-accessed).
  2. Senses and Communication Humane-Endpoints. Web. 27 February 2013 (Date-Accessed).
  3. Mouse Facts The Fun Mouse. Web. 11 February 2013 (Date-Accessed).
  4. House Mouse EnCon. Web. 11 February 2013 (Date-Accessed).
  5. [1] Orkin. Web. 11 February 2013 (Date-Accessed).
  6. Pagad, Shyama. Mus Musculus Global Invasive Species Database. Web. 17 September 2010 (Date-Published).
  7. Mouse (Harvest) Young Peoples Trust. Web. 22 February 2013 (Date-Accessed).
  8. What Eats A Mouse What Eats. Web. 7 April 2010 (Date-Published).
  9. Mice in Homes Web. 11 February 2013 (Date-Accessed).
  10. Clean Up Web. 11 February 2013 (Date-Accessed).
  11. Mice Extermination Web. 11 February 2013 (Date-Accessed).
  12. Mice in Walls Web. 11 February 2013 (Date-Accessed).