House mouse

We live with them under one roof-mostly without suspecting it. House mice are ubiquitous and in conquering new habitats there seem to be as few boundaries for them as there are for us humans.


Among all members of the genus Maus, the house mouse is likely to be the most famous representative. Before she joins people as a cultural follower, she lives mainly in the steppes of Asia. India is probably their original home.

About 4000 BC it arrives in Central Europe. It is probably also easily reached the British Isles with Roman ships. With the human “family connection ,” the house mouse can spread all over the world.

In Germany there are two subspecies: The western (Mus musculus domesticus) and the eastern (Mus musculus musculus) house mouse. A typical dividing line of both populations is the Elbe. The further east the animals live, the sooner they have preserved their wild, stepp-like way of life.


Close-up of a house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus). The typical “mouse smell” has only the house mouse
The mammals, which are between seven and eleven centimetres long, have a tail that is almost once again as long as their bodies. If they’re not bred white lab or color mice, the small rodents weigh 20 to 25 grams. The breeding variants can be well twice as heavy.

Her coat usually presents itself in the proverbial “mouse grey ,” but can also go into the brown room. A typical feature of the house mouse are the slightly notched, upper rodent teeth. On this and on the characteristic “mouse smell,” which only the house mouse possesses, the species can be determined well.

Habitat and nutrition

Preferred habitat of the domesticus variant are houses, stables and storage chambers, while the musculus type is less tied to humans and also at home in field and hallway. House mice who live near humans leave their hiding place during the day only when they feel safe. Otherwise, they are nocturnal.

While house mice feed predominantly plant-based, for example, seeds and grasses, they are considered omnivores. Insects they catch alive are also on their meal plan. Yet the species is itself a treat for other animals, because there is no shortage of natural enemies. Stone martens, fox, Iltis, hiking rat, domestic cat and various birds of prey are just a small selection of those who want the rodents on the collar.

Model organsimus Mouse

House mice are considered food pests. Today, however, their role as disease carriers is likely to be more problematic. Their use in research is well known: The mouse is one of the most important model organisms. Different variants are bred. For example, there are those used in behavioural biology tests, others in cancer research or for drug tests.

Genetically modified mouse strains have played a central role in the study of genes in terms of their meaning and function since the mid-1980s. The so-called “knockout mouse ” became famous. In it, individual genes are switched off to find out what those genes are responsible for. Martin Evans, Mario Capecchi and Oliver smithies were honoured with the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2007 for the basic work on the first “Knockout Mouse .”


Dead house mouse in a punching trap stocked with bacon. Old known: You catch mice with bacon …
In the past, domestic mice were fought with now banned arsenic compounds or strychnine, among other things. They have got away from it because these poisons are also dangerous for other vertebrates and humans.

This disadvantage has, albeit to a lesser extent, even the zinc phosphide allowed today. Mechanical traps-either as a living or fatally catching variant-or just the good old domestic cat-are the most unproblematic for the environment.

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