Mice are everywhere. From the tropics to the polar regions, in the remotest corners as well as in the middle of the city. But many a small fur animal to which we give the name “Mouse ” does not really belong to the group of small rodents-for example, the insect eaters bat and shrew.
The mice (Mus) are a genus of the real mice, the most famous species of which is the house mouse. In addition, there are 37 other species, some of which live close to the human race, but partly also withdrawn in the forest.
Mice are between 4.5 and 12.5 centimetres long. The tail is as long in many mouse species as the body. In the case of the voles, which look very similar to the house mice, the tail is much shorter than half of their trunk. The normal weight of a mouse is about 30 grams. Mice held in the lab or the so-called color mice can become much heavier. Mice weighing 60 grams have already been found here! Mice living in the great outdoors are grey or brown at the top of the body, the underside is dyed in a bright grey or brown or completely white. Due to strains, however, there are many colour variations today. The tail of the mouse is covered with visible dandruff rings and fine hairs. Mice have sharp-edged rodent teeth, which they can use to gradually soar themselves through strong doors.
Mice originally lived in Africa, southern Europe and Asia. As early as the Neolithic period, house mice were roommates in human dwellings, as evidenced by excavations in Anatolia.
The house mouse known to us comes from India and was not widespread in Central Europe. More than 3000 years ago, however, she followed man as a “cultural follower” and spread worldwide. On ships, it reached America and Australia. You can even find mice at Alpine peaks of 2,000 meters high. The natural habitats of the mice are forests or savannas. That’s why mice tolerate wet spots or moist air only badly.
The house mouse, the African dwarf mouse, as well as to a limited extent also the rice field and the paint mouse, are usually found near human housing estates. They are also happy to settle directly in parts of the human apartment. There they set up in hidden cracks or angles.
Mice prefer life on the mainland, but can also swim. Since 1664, mice have been kept as experimental animals in laboratories and used in cancer or behavioural research.
Mice do not maintain hibernation, but can fall into a solidification state in severe cold and food shortages. They put on a food supply for the winter, but they only live on particularly inhospitable days. Otherwise, they go to human cellars, pantries or barns to cobble together their winter meal.
Mice communicate through odor messages transmitted by body odor or urine. In addition, mice communicate through ultrasonic tones created by cracking the vocal lips. Man, however, cannot hear these sounds. Free-living mice move on set tracks that mark them with their smell. You can see them quite well as “trample paths.”
Mice are mainly active in the morning and evening hours. The dwarf mice are the most mobile representatives, they can climb superbly on trees, with the tail helping to hold on.
Mice are omnivores. While house mice prefer plant-based food such as seeds or nuts, they also eat live trapped insects. Forest mice feed on kerbs, worms and even small birds; In distress, they also eat the bark of young trees.
If mice find a lot of food, they transport parts of it to their dwelling and put on a stock there for low-food times or the winter months. Unlike it is depicted in many narratives or films, mice are difficult to attract by cheese. They prefer heavily flavored sweets instead. Mice kept as pets feed predominantly on dry food.
If there is enough food, a mouse can get offspring six to eight times a year. It is noteworthy that mice are already sexually mature at ten to twelve weeks. They give birth to three to eight cubs after about three weeks of gestation. Provided that it survives itself, its offspring survive and get this boy itself, a single mouse couple can have up to a million offspring in two years!
The kittens are born naked, blind, deaf and without pigments. They weigh less than a gram. In wild mice, the eyes are dark at birth, but in white mice they are completely colorless. After ten days, the young mice have an even fluff of short hastaches on their bodies. On the 15th or 16th day of life, they open their eyes.
After three weeks, the animals no longer need the mother’s breast and have reached a weight of about six grams. Mice have a life expectancy of two years.
The mice’s natural enemies include domestic cats, migratory rates and stone martens in human housing estates. In barns, veil owls can become dangerous to them, as they also hunt in buildings. In the wild, other owl species, buzzards and many other birds of prey eat mice. Wiesel, Marder, Iltis, Hedgehog and the Red Fox also recreate mice.
Fighting the mice
Free-living mice are considered food pests that can cause great harm to humans on farms, in large kitchens or storage chambers. That’s why mice are fought by different means. So they are poisoned with stained grain in agony or killed with mouse traps.
Mice as pets:
The tamed shape of the house mice, the color mice or white mice, are considered pets. Mice should not be kept alone because this contradicts their natural life form. Care should be taken for a sufficiently large dwelling.