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.
Juvenile 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.
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.