Mus musculus Linnaeus - House Mouse.

Systematic position.

Class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Muridae, genus Mus. In the fauna of the Former USSR 3 subspecies are known.

Biological group.

Pest rodents.

Morphology and biology.

Body length reaches 110 mm, tail is long, no less than 90% of body length, on average equal to latter. Sole is rather small, its length is less than 19 mm. Coloration of the upper part is monochrome, with predominance of gray hues, body ventrum varies from ash-gray to whitish-gray and white. Diploid chromosome set is 2n=40. Synanthropic species, inhabiting human buildings in all natural zones. House Mouse occurs in very diverse biotopes. It avoids arctic and subarctic landscapes, massive forests of taiga type, and deserts; in mountains it reaches 2800-3000 m above sea level. In the south this animal dwells in open stations year-round, mainly in agrocenoses; in the north it lives in human buildings during the winter, and part of the population migrates to nearby lands during the warm season.


Due to this species' close connection to man the House Mouse occurs practically everywhere, including most of the territory of the Former USSR, except the Far North and north-east Siberia.


Extremely high ecological flexibility. In nature the House Mouse is active mainly in night and during evening hours; in dwellings its activity depends inversely on human activity. Burrows are simple, with 2-3 entrances; this animal often occupies burrows of other rodent species; it practically does not make burrows in desert zone. It willingly dwells in natural shelters, i.e., between stones, in ground hollows, under roots of trees, under piles of brushwood, straw, etc. It is omnivorous because of its synanthropic lifestyle. In nature seeds of cultivated and weedy herbaceous plants prevail in ration; the House Mouse also eats green parts of plants and insects in small amounts. It does not make winter stores, in contrast to closely related species Mus hortulanus Nordm. The House Mouse is a highly polytocous animal. In nature it breeds throughout the year under favorable conditions (optimum temperature and food mainly), with various intensities during different seasons. On average each litter contains 5 to 7 (maximum 14) young animals. The number of litters is usually 4-5 in the south and 3-4 in the north. Gestation period lasts about 20 days; puberty begins at the age of 2 months. Populations living in nature are characterized by significant fluctuations in numbers which are very quickly restored. In the area the optimum multiyear cycles of population dynamics repeat after about 4-6 years. Seasonal fluctuations in population numbers depend on quality and time of grain crops harvest, irrigation regime in arid regions, and dynamics of floods in river valleys.

Economic significance.

In years of mass reproductions the House Mouse significantly harms yield of grain and vegetable garden crops. In hotbeds and greenhouses it destroys planted seeds and seedlings of vegetable crops. In storehouses it destroys and pollutes (by urine and excrements) stored agricultural products. The House Mouse has extremely important epidemical significance; it is the main vector of pathogens of plague and tularemia, typhous fevers, leptospirosis, trichinosis, and other dangerous diseases. Control measures in open stations include timely and qualitative (without losses) harvest of grain crops, deep plowing and harrowing, removal of plant remains from fields and cleaning of forest belts, poison baits. In enclosed spaces the regular catching with traps of all types and the use of poison baits are necessary.

Related references:

Gromov, I.M. & Erbaeva, M.A. 1995. The Mammals of Russia and adjacent territories. Lagomorphs and Rodents. A.A. Aristov & G.I. Baranova, eds. St. Petersburg: ZIN RAN. 552 p. (in Russian).
Kotenkova, E.V. & Bulatova, N.Sh., eds. 1994. House Mouse. Origin. Distribution. Taxonomy. Behaviour. Moscow: Nauka. 267 p. (in Russian).
Kulik, I.L. 1979. Mus musculus Linnaeus, 1758 - House Mouse. In: Kucheruk, V.V., ed. Medicinal theriology. Moscow: Nauka. P.204-209 (in Russian).
Lisitsyn, A.A. 1953. Reproduction and lethality of Mus musculus L. in conditions of Salsk steppes. In: Collection of scientific works of Volga Region's Epidemiological Station. Astrakhan: Volga. Issue 1. P.81-109 (in Russian).
Nikitina, N.A., Karulin, B.E., Litvin, V.Yu. et al. 1976. Circadian activity and usage of territory by House Mice Mus musculus. Zoologicheskii zhurnal 55(6): p.912-920 (in Russian).
Sokolov, V.E., ed. 1989. House Mouse. Moscow: IEMEZh AN SSSR. 355 pp. (in Russian).
Sokolov, V.E., Kotenkova, E.V., Lyalyukhina, S.I. 1990. Biology of House and Garden Mice. Moscow: Nauka. 207 p. (in Russian).
Tupikova, N.V. 1947. Ecology of House Mouse in middle zone of the USSR. In: Formozov, A.N., ed. Fauna and ecology of rodents. Moscow: MOIP. P.5-65 (in Russian).

© Karlik F.A.


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