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Types of Mice - Getting to Know the Pest

There are often times when we are mistaken between identifying mice as rats. They may come from the same family but mice have a distinctive that makes them different from all of the other members of the rodent family. Actually, the term "mice" is a more generic word used to refer rodents that are smaller. This makes it quite different from rats which are larger members of the genus. The word doesn't really have a specific meaning and because its definition is not definitive it can sometimes be used interchangeably to refer the other species or rodents. It also doesn't have a proper placement in the classification system. The word is more of a colloquial reference to what is perceived to be smaller rats. There is a widespread population of mice all over the world and they also come in many different types.

But for the simple reasons of nomenclature convenience they are mainly classified into two (2) major groups - the Eurasian mice and the American mice.

Their habitats vary depending on what type of mice is being referred. Some mice live in the more ecologically natural environment like rainforests or any areas that are remotely urban. These are the type of mice that are not relatively "domesticated". Some would thrive in human cultured fields and they usually cause inconveniences to certain crops being propagated in the field. That's why this type of mice is often regarded as pests. The other types of mice, of which we are more acquainted with, are those we often see roaming around our houses foraging for food. This type of mice are the ones responsible for wreaking havoc in our furniture and potentially posing health risks to all the members of the household. They are often hunted down in traps or exterminated with poisons because they cause considerable hassles to a person's normal living.

The common house mouse is perhaps the most frequently observed classification of mice and we do often do our best to get rid of them in any way possible. The common house mice are the ancestors of the white mice that are usually raised for scientific purposes, usually for research and experimentation. If these mice are in their wild state, they are often smaller than the ones that are domesticated. Their sizes may range from 15-17 cm, about less than 6.5 in. long and that would already include their tails. The reason why domestic mice are slightly or often considerably larger than wild mice is because they are more nourished with the abundance of supply within a household. A house mouse color are usually yellowish-grain in the above, sometimes they have streaks of black and stripes of lighter gray colors in their bellies. They are very prolific breeders reproducing every 10 to 18 weeks all throughout the year, procreating 5 to 10 offspring in a litter.

Because they are such prolific breeders and they continuously consume food resources, they are considered as household pests. Pest mice control measures are strongly implemented once there are detections of infestation within a household. The pest control methods would employ different means and devices. Mouse traps are amongst the most common entrapment method being used today. They are commonly used by people because apart from the fact that they are proven to be very effective mice catchers, they are also cheaper than the other pest mice control options. Other methods would make use of certain mice repelling devices such as high frequency sound producing devices. They emit sound waves that deter the presence of mice within the area it covers.

Here are some other commonly recognizable members of the mice genus:

Deer Mouse

Deer mice are perhaps the most easily recognizable wild mice of all the wild mice species because they are the most commonly visible ones. They are small and nocturnal rodents that are endemic in North America. They may look all the same; however, there are about 180 species of deer mice in existence and that would entail each of them have different unique characteristics to each other. Their dwellings or habitats would include but not limited to woodlands, prairies, forests, deserts and any sort of rocky places or bush lands.

The deer mouse is named as so because of their fur's characteristics which can be likened or in part similar to a deer's.

Their colors are usually brown with a white below. A common deer are slightly larger than that of a common house mouse, typically reaching about 18-19 cm in length. It has a moderately long, often large and hairy tail, prominent ears with big dark eyes and long whiskers.

A deer mouse diet is mainly based on high protein grain and nut foods. They typically feed on berries, nuts and smaller digestible insects. Deer mice don't hibernate during winter, that's why they spend most of their time stocking food supply during the fall to prepare their selves for the incoming season.

Deer mice dwelling areas are anywhere that is dry and warm. In the forests, the usually nest on a hollow tree or an abandoned squirrel or bird nest. The deer mice on prairies dig burrows to nest underground. Their foraging coverage are quite expanded compared to a common house mouse and they have very good homing instincts that no matter how far they have gone in search for food, they could always find their way back to their nests.

The common deer mouse has been known to be the carrier of the dreaded Sin Nombre Hantavirus. The virus produces influenza-type symptoms in the infected human hosts. The virus has caused a widespread epidemic during the early 1990's killing almost 60 people in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. In the later years the disease caused by the hantavirus has reached as far as Canada, Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina.

Jumping Mouse

Jumping mice are small rodents known for their ability to leap great distances relative to their sizes. They are found residing in North America, Europe and Northern Asia. They favor nesting on damp places like stream banks and marshes. However, they can also be found in farms and fields. Jumping mice have long muscular hind legs to facilitate their high powered leaps. They also have longer tails to maintain their balance on both jumping and then landing on the ground. The average jumping distance for a jumping mouse ranges from 1.2 to 1.5 meters or 4 to 5 feet in linear distance. However, if a deer mouse is frightened it can jumped greater distances ranging from 3 to 3.7 meters, or 10 – 12 ft with just a single leap.


Voles are small rodents that are confined or endemic in the eastern hemisphere. However, at some point a population of the mice species were found in the United States. The most common voles found in America are meadow or field mice. There are red-backed voles that thrive in Alaska and Northern Eurasia. There are also water voles that are found in Europe and Asia. Voles scientific classification belongs to a family of rodents called Muridae. Field mouse is classified as Microtus pennsylvaniccus and the northern red-backed ones as Clethrionomys rutilus. Water voles are classified as Arvicola terrestris.

All the best,
Sergiu Zburatoru
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