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

  1. 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!

    • 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

    • 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. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

      • You say you don’t like using traps you want to repell them, but isn’t that a precaution if you don’t already have them. Once a infestation is started don’t we have to trap and or kill to get rid of them? My house was broken into end of September, all my doors were left open afterwards, which immediately concerned me because my door can be cracked for a few hours and a couple mice always get in. Right away I noticed several mice in the first hour. Running wild lol. I initially had no money to buy traps for almost six weeks. By this time they were out of control. The first day I set traps I caught 20 mice in less than 24 hrs. Over the course of the next few months I’ve caught about 40 to 50 more mice. I no longer see them every day as for awhile you couldn’t go 30 minutes straight without seeing them running back and fourth. They are no longer climbing the cabinets tearing food up. I know I still have them bc I hear them in the walls. I had only been using wood traps and glue and recently put out bait. I don’t know what else to do. I know they’re steady reproducing. I’ve only caught about 4 in the last 2 week’s, but I don’t know where to bait if I’m not seeing them. Sorry so long . Frustrated from Nebraska

        • Hello Tameka,

          We say that because traps are an imperfect and short term solution– the cleanup is messy and they do nothing to prevent more mice from coming in the future. Fresh Cab is a great preventative measure, but it also helps to drive out the mice you have and prevent more from coming back. The scent over-powers their sense of smell making it difficult for them to navigate, avoid predators, and find food, so they will go running! For use in currently infested areas, we recommend using as much as 1 pouch per 8 sq. feet of floor space and replace every 30 days to get the best results. The Fresh Cab and the traps actually work against each other as most traps have a bait or scent that is meant to attract the mice, so we do not recommend using both Fresh Cab and traps.
          Good luck, and please let us know how it goes!

  8. 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!

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