House mouse

House mouse

Mus musculus

Common name:

House mouse

Scientific name:

Mus musculus

Alternative common names:


Thehouse mouseis a smallmammal, characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, and a long naked or almost hairless tail. They are typically commensal, and are found in a very wide range of man-made habitats including houses, farm outbuildings; other types of buildings, and even coal mines and frozen meat stores.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Central Asia

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Northern Cape, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State

How does it spread?

It has been spread throughout the world by humans and lives as a human commensal.

Why is it a problem?

They destroy woodwork, furniture, and fabric. These mice also contribute to the spread of diseases in humans, such as the murine typhus, rickettsia pox, tularaemia, food poisoning, and bubonic plague.

What does it look like?

Description: House mice are from 65 to 95 mm long from the tip of their nose to the end of their body; their tails are 60 to 105 mm long. Their fur ranges in colour from light brown to black, and they generally have white or buffy bellies. They have long tails that have very little fur and have circular rows of scales. House mice tend to have longer tails and darker fur when living closely with humans. They range from 12 to 30 g in weight. Many domestic forms of mice have been developed that vary in colour from white to black and with spots.

Habitat: As a commensal species, the house mouse lives in close association with humans. It has been found in a range of urban situations, including shops, mills, warehouses, factories, coal mines and even cold stores. In rural areas it occurs in farm buildings, rubbish tips, piggeries, poultry houses, granaries and open fields.

Breeding: Breeding occurs throughout the year, with five to ten litters produced each year, each one consisting of between four and eight young. Gestation is 19-21 days but may be extended by several days if the female is producing. Offspring’s are born naked and blind. They are fully furred after 10 days, open their eyes at 14 days, and reach sexual maturity at 5-7 weeks.

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