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Key People:Ryuzo YanagimachiCharles Elton...(Show more)Related Topics:house mouseShortridge’s mouseflat-haired mousepygmy mouseRyukyu mouse...(Show more)

mouse, (genus Mus), the common name generally yet imprecisely applied to rodents found throughout the people with bodies much less than around 12 centimeter (5 inches) long. In a scientific context, mouse advert to any of the 38 varieties in the genus Mus, i beg your pardon is the Latin word because that mouse. The home mouse (Mus musculus), indigenous to central Asia, has established itself with person populations in many other components of the world.

All rodents with a mouselike or ratlike body, nevertheless of body dimension or diagnostic traits, were explained as species of Mus in between 1758 and the late 1800s. Subsequent examine shifted many of those varieties into countless different groups, leaving Mus as a smaller, clearly defined genus with a particular combination of traits. In ~ the genus over there are four distinctive groups: spiny mice (subgenus Pyromys), shrew-mice (subgenus Coelomys), rice field mice and the residence mouse (subgenus Mus), and also African mice (subgenus Nannomys).


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General features

Mice have a slender body, dull or tapered muzzle, scantily haired, significant ears, small hind feet with bald soles, and also sharp, little claws. The thinly furred tail shows up hairless; it may be around as long as the head and body, or it can be much shorter. One of the largest is the flat-haired mouse (M. Platythrix) that peninsular India, weighing around 18 grams (0.6 ounce), through a body 10 to 12 centimeter (4 to 4.7 inches) long and also a shorter tail (7 to 8 cm <2.8 to 3.1 inches>). The the smallest is more than likely the pygmy computer mouse (M. Minutoides) that sub-Saharan Africa, weighing 3 to 12 grams (0.11 to 0.42 ounce), with a body 6 come 8 centimeter (2.3 come 3.1 inches) long and also a quick tail of 3 come 6 centimeter (1.2 come 2.3 inches).

There is substantial variation in fur texture and also colour amongst the types of Mus. At one extreme are the spiny-furred species in the subgenus Pyromys, who upperparts and also undersides room covered v flat, channeled spines nestled in soft underfur (juveniles space not spiny). In ~ the other extreme are the shrew-mice native Sumatra (M. Crociduroides) and Java (M. Vulcani), who soft, short, and dense coat shows up woolly or velvety. Every the other species have a soft or slightly coarse, moderately special coat with quick or lengthy hairs. A colour combination common to many mice is gray come brown upperparts, white underparts, white feet, and a tail the is dark over and white below. Sports of this pattern include upperparts of buff, bluish gray, blackish gray, reddish brown, or cacao brown, v underparts ranging from white to various shades that gray, occasionally tinged v silver or buff. The feet might be white or the exact same colour as the upperparts, and also the tail might be bicoloured or uniformly dark gray to dark brown.

Natural history

Mice in their herbal habitats are primarily nocturnal, although part will sometimes forage throughout the day. They room ground dwellers, return some species are likewise agile climbers and leapers as well as capable swimmers. A few are specialized burrowers seldom seen above ground. Many species, especially those life in savannas and grasslands, dig deep into burrows and chambers in which they construct globular nests of dried vegetation. In an intact ecosystem, varieties of Mus, together with other small-bodied rodents, room preyed upon, sometimes to an appreciable degree, by reptiles, mammals, and also birds (especially owls).

The simple but effective excavation an approach of mice is exemplified by the Ryukyu mouse (M. Caroli). This computer mouse loosens soil through its incisor teeth, moving a pack of debris in that mouth and piling it exterior the burrow entrance or periodically stacking loosened soil inside the burrow and also then pushing the pile out with its hind feet. In the diked rice fields of Thailand, small piles of soil below holes in the dike signal the visibility of Ryukyu mice. Every hole is the opened to a tunnel prolonging upward come a nest chamber over water level, then to one more opening top top the various other side that the dike. Forest species may additionally burrow, however most of lock construct colonies in rock crevices or in ~ rotting tree trunks and brush piles on the forest floor. The gray-bellied pygmy computer mouse (M. Triton) of sub-Saharan Africa, because that example, supposedly does not burrow however uses pathways make by larger rodents.

Diet varies amongst species. Out the home mouse consumes seeds and also insects; at home it eats nearly anything digestible. Many other species eat a mix of plant parts (especially seeds), insects, and also other invertebrates. Stomachs that gray-bellied pygmy mice caught in east Africa, because that example, had plant parts, piece of bark, insects (mostly adult beetles), and worms.


house mouse
House computer mouse (Mus musculus).

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Ingmar Holmasen

Depending ~ above the varieties and geographic region, mice might breed throughout the year or only during the wet periods in southerly latitudes and from spring to autumn in north latitudes. Other than for the house mouse, i beg your pardon can produce up come 14 litters every year (1 come 12 offspring per litter), over there is little information about the reproductive biological of many species. In the deserts the India, the small Indian ar mouse (M. Booduga) bear from 1 to 13 young per litter and also breeds throughout the year. In southeast Asia, the fawn-coloured computer mouse (M. Cervicolor) has actually been reported to develop litters of two to six young in July and December. In eastern Africa, the pygmy computer mouse breeds throughout the wet periods from April to June and also September to December and also bear litters of 2 to eight young.