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Mouse Lifespan: How Long Do Mice Live?

Have you ever had a mouse in the house?

Although a pet mouse might make an adorable addition to the family, some mice may be more like uninvited houseguests. Before deciding to adopt a pet mouse, or screaming and hiding if you find one running around your home, find out more about the life cycle stages of a mouse.

Mouse life cycle

Baby mice: Mice pups are small, roughly the size of a quarter. They only weigh about as much as a sheet of paper. They are blind and sometimes referred to as ‘pinkies’ due to the pink color of their hairless bodies. Unless you find a mouse’s nest, you are unlikely to encounter baby mice.

baby mouseJuvenile mice: By two weeks of age, their eyes and ears have opened and they have grown hair. Click here for detailed photographs of the weekly development of mice.

By three weeks, the mice are weaned from their mother. They are able to come and go from the nest, finding their own food. The diet of a mouse varies based on its surroundings. Mice can eat practically anything, from dry foods, fresh or rotting produce, other insects and more, but have shown a preference for the same foods their mother ate while pregnant.

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Adult mice: A mouse reaches reproductive maturity by about six weeks of age. Male mice attract a mate by ‘singing’ ultrasonic songs (meaning people cannot hear them) and through the use of scents only other mice can detect called pheromones.

Once a female becomes pregnant, it will only take 18-21 days before she delivers her litter. The number of baby mice in a litter is about five or six on average. When you do the math, assuming half of each litter is female and can begin reproducing in six weeks, the number of mice can multiply at an astonishing rate!

Life span of a mouse

As you can see, it does not take long for one mouse to become many, but how long do mice normally live?

In the wild, the average mouse tends to live about five or six months. If living in ideal conditions, a mouse can live approximately two years. Ideal conditions for a mouse mean a steady supply of food without intense competition from other rodents or predators, as well as a somewhat temperate climate.

Mice can survive for months without water, getting the hydration they need from their food, or by licking the condensation from sink pipes. Reproduction slows down during periods of lower temperatures, so indoor populations breed throughout the year, while outdoor mice have peak breeding seasons during the spring and fall.

If you have an unwanted mouse in your house…

Taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to mouse control runs the risk of exposing yourself and your family to the various diseases spread by mice. While cats and dogs can help control the mouse population, they do not usually eliminate mice infestations. Not only is a well-fed pet a lazy mouser, but mice actually love to eat pet food and may be more attracted to homes where food is readily available.

If you think you have one, or more than one of these unwanted guests in your home, visit our article on proven ways to get rid of mice.

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23 responses to “Mouse Lifespan: How Long Do Mice Live?”

  1. I called Terminix first. Found they were not compitent. After they came,
    the mice got in my matresses, and
    livingroom furniture. I threw out alI the furniture. I myself put out snap and glue traps, mothballs, bait stations and finally poison. They never touched anything. I have not caught one mouse.

    • Pat, That sounds like a very difficult situation! Sorry to hear about your struggles, but hopefully you’ve found a resolution. Please feel free to contact us if you need any additional information about dealing with a mouse in the house. Thanks for reading!

  2. I found black glue traps work best. The tend to notice the white ones. The avoid the old snap traps too. Get the Made in USA ones. They are more sticky with less chance of escape. I watched one walk on the China made one. Some of the Chinese one work fine. Maybe because it is winter and less sticky with colder temperatures?

    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for sharing your observations! Generally, we advise against using traps because they typically include some type of bait or attractant to lure rodents to the trap. Repelling rodents and making sure they stay away is our area of expertise, and allows you to avoid all contact with rodents — even those caught in traps.
      Thanks for reading!

  3. A question I would like for you to answer, I saw about 3 mice in my front garden between 2 days, I made sure I blocked that little hole plus everything that looks like a hole, i now hear noises under the floor boards but we’ve got fitted carpet all around the walls, but my girls are so afraid and don’t want to sleep in the house, how long will it be before they all die under the floor boards

    • Hi Patricia,
      Speculating how long mice may live under the floorboards is almost impossible since we don’t know if they have other ways to get in and out, or what the environment is like under there. It sounds like you have the right idea to keep them out of your house by blocking their entry points, but they may be able to chew through the material you used to plug the holes, or they might just make new openings. For proven protection against mice, keep a pouch of rodent repellent in each room.
      Thanks for reading!

  4. i have one mouse in my art studio—the other two have died. the way they got in is now closed. the remaining mouse will not go in my traps (both baited and glue) and will not eat the poisoned bait. my sculptures are made from paper and rice paste. the mouse chews the paper for the paste. i cannot remove all the sculptures! it has a wonderworld of food. what to do?

    • Hi Carol,
      That sounds like a difficult situation, but you’ve taken the right steps. I would suggest removing the traps because they still use a bait designed to attract mice, and you don’t want any mice at all. Depending on the size of the space, I would suggest using 2-4 pouches of Fresh Cab rodent repellent in the area to repel mice.
      Thanks for commenting!

    • Hi Linda,
      Your nose knows! Rodents have a unique musty odor that is hard to forget. Keep an eye out for other signs of mice such as droppings, gnaw marks and greasy rub marks along baseboards to help you find where rodents might be nesting.
      Thanks for reading!

  5. Mice are not all disease carriers! Speak to you wildlife control and see. They CAN carry Heparovitus which is only dangerous if you inhale fecal dust. I believe animals have a right to live. So cruelly killing them is quite disgusting. I have rescued several baby mice and they grew up very sweet and made a better pets than most „store bought“ hamsters, mice. The others I simply released into nature. I think we need to have compassion. Never have I been bitten by one or habe any disease from them. May God help you all who kill any living things like this, maybe one day you‘ll have the same fate.

    • Hi Jess,
      We totally understand, and you’re right that not ALL mice carry disease. We believe mice deserve a home too, just not inside with us. That’s why our products repel mice and other household pests without hurting them.
      Thanks for commenting!

  6. It makes me Lough when people blame other species(mice, in this case) for their own mistakes, negligence, needs, problems and issues… they create for themselves in a first place. It’s not that complicated… kill one mouse, there will be another to replace it… unless you make shore your home is wholes, scrap food and trash- free. Rodents and other animals would come to search for food, as long as they can have access to it. And aren’t after you, your money or jewelry. They are not criminals, trash or vegetables, deserving such gruesome, sadistic, painful death sentence. Glue traps are one of the most barbaric inhumane invention ever. We are more likely to be harmed by our fellow man, than a peaceful little mouse… lol… There are much better, more humane, ethical ways to rid your home from unwanted roommates…. HUMANE TRAPS… catch and release. No harm done, everyone goes their own way, as it should be. There’s nothing more scary and dangerous than Humans without humanity.

  7. Perhaps, mice “ carry disease” from time to time, yet facts prove otherwise: the deadliest diseases are from outdated, crippled, perverted flesh, egg and dairy consumption….” not mice!!!!! How many people are killed by a mouce diseases? How many by cancer, diabetes, Alshimer’s, Osteoporosis and other premature, incurable, deadly diseases? BTW, it’s not really “kind” killing a mice or other animals, just because were searching for food!

    • Hi Rosa,
      You’re right that diseases from mice are hardly the most lethal culprit in existence. However, we do believe diseases from mice are oftentimes preventable, which is what we aim to do. Instead of killing mice, and risking greater exposure to disease by disposing of their dead bodies, we design products and educational material to help people prevent mouse problems before they begin. We truly appreciate your empathy for all living things!
      Thanks for reading!

    • Hi Jill,
      I would suggest inspecting any air intake or exhaust vents that may be in the ceiling, as well as any openings for electrical wiring, etc… If you see any openings, seal them with steel wool and/or silicone caulk. Keep a few pouches of Fresh Cab in your camper to keep it mouse free.
      Thanks for reading!

  8. How long will a nest of baby mice live for if there mother has left them? They are around 5-8 days old. I found them in my she’d, which I had to remove and placed the nest in a safe place in my garden, but I don’t know if the mother is looking after them, as I scared her off when I screamed as she made me jump at the time. They are field mice.

    • Hi Natasha,
      It is hard to say exactly how long the baby mice might live without their mother since there are a number of factors that could influence the outcome. We’d love to hear an update about what happened.
      Thanks for reading!

  9. Hello I have a mouse problem and I own a cat, however my cat won’t kill them she seems to be afraid of them. In addition to that they are in the walls and ceilings and I’m afraid they will get in furniture or even chew through the ceilings and fall through I’m at the end of all hope and on a very low budget but at this rate moving out is not much of an option at the moment what should I do ASAP?

    • Hi Lily!

      This is definitely not a fun experience! We are sorry to hear about your situation. The mice are probably looking for a safe place and have taken to the walls and ceiling since they know there is a cat in the house. We have several DIY articles Learn How To Control Mice, Rats & Rodents the EarthKind Way that will help you repel rodents from your home.

      Here are some quick recommendations: the first step is to look for any entrances into your home and block them with something mice cannot chew through like steel wool. Mice can squeeze through an opening just a quarter of an inch in size! Next, clear away any clutter or debris mice may use to hide behind or for nesting material. Let’s make sure we do not have anything that may be attracting them. Secure food in containers, empty the cat food dish between feedings, etc… We do not recommend the use of baited traps or poisons because they will attract more mice. Mice do anything in their power to fill their tummies! If you do find rodent droppings, please follow the CDC guidelines Cleaning Up After Rodents before vacuuming or sweeping so you don’t accidentally stir up and inhale any pathogens carried by rodents.

      Lastly, we recommend protecting your home with Fresh Cab Rodent Repellent pouches. It is low cost and proven effective. One of my favorite things is that it helps repel the mice without having to deal with the mess and it is safe for pets. Fresh Cab prevents reinfestation for up to three months. You can find it locally [link] or on our website. Sign up for our Newsletter and follow us on Facebook to get DIY tips and money saving offers.

      We hope this helps you get rid of those pesky critters once and for all!

  10. We had a mouse that got into our closet and seemed to nest in the corner of the room. We put out humane traps and while it took a couple of weeks, we caught the mouse. He was so cute, with big shiny eyes and an adorable pink nose and the sweet little paws.

    I drove to a wooded area about 30 mins away (it was on my way to work) and let him go near a little brook. But now I’m concerned that he will be really anxious in the new environment and find it difficult to survive without the company of other mice. Do mice need the company of other mice, or are they ok with living on their own?

    • For starters, both outdoor mice and house mice tend to live in groups. That is due to preference as well as breeding habits. Mice breed frequently and give birth to litters of 6-8 on average, and can do so up to 10 times a year. That being said, if you have one mouse, then you very likely have a little family living in your house or garage so keep an eye out for signs of other mice.
      As for the little guy that you caught, hopefully he found a home and a new family. House mice typically are not adapted to outdoor living, so the question of what to do once you catch one in a humane trap is always tricky. Some people choose to release them in their garden, but you run the risk of them returning. When it comes to mice, keeping them from entering the home is always a better alternative than trying to get rid of them once they’ve made a home inside yours, so a natural repellent like Fresh Cab can help you keep them outside of your home to begin with. I hope this helps!

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