As a wild animal the house mouse mainly lives associated with humans, causing damage to crops and stored food.
The house mouse has been domesticated as the pet or fancy mouse, and as the laboratory mouse which is one of the most important model organisms in biology and medicine. It is by far the most commonly used genetically altered laboratory mammal.
House mice have an adult body length (nose to base of tail) of 7.5–10 cm (3.0–3.9 in) and a tail length of 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in). The weight is typically 10–25 g (0.4–0.9 oz). They vary in colour from white to grey, and light brown to black. They have short hair and a light belly. The ears and tail have little hair. The hind feet are short compared to Apodemus mice, only 15–19 mm (0.59–0.75 in) long; the normal gait is a run with a stride of about 4.5 cm (1.8 in), though they can jump up to 45 cm (18 in). The droppings are blackish, about 3 mm (0.12 in) long, and have a strong musty smell. The voice is a high-pitched squeak.
House mice thrive under a variety of conditions: they are found in and around homes and commercial structures as well as in open fields and agricultural lands. House mice consume and contaminate food meant for humans, pets, livestock, or other animals. In addition, they often cause considerable damage to structures and property. They can transmit pathogens that cause diseases such as salmonellosis, a form of food poisoning.
Young males and females are not easily distinguished: females have a significantly smaller distance between their anus and genital opening. Females have 5 pairs of mammary glands and nipples; males have no nipples. When sexually mature, the most striking and obvious difference is the presence of testicles on the males. These are large compared to the rest of the body and can be retracted into the body. In addition to the regular pea-size thymus organ in the chest, house mice have a second functional pinhead-size thymus organ in the neck next to the trachea.
(From Wikipedia, May 23rd, 2010)
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House mice are typically active at night, but will emerge during the day if food is scarce (3). They are extremely agile, with an excellent sense of balance, and are able to jump and swim fairly well (3). The senses of hearing and smell are highly developed and communication is largely through scent (5). They have an extremely broad diet, incorporating most human foodstuffs, invertebrates and occasionally more bizarre household items such as soap and tobacco (2). In urban situations, territories are usually set up, which males defend aggressively (3). Breeding tends to occur throughout the year, with five to ten litters produced each year, each one consisting of between four and eight young (3). The nest is constructed of shredded matter such as paper or cloth (2) and females may share a nest if the population density is high (3) . The young are born virtually hairless, with sealed eyes and ears. They are fully furred after 14 days and weaned after 18 – 20 days, when they begin to emerge from the nest (3). House mice are well-known pests, contaminating foodstuffs and grains and carrying a number of diseases and parasites that are transmissible to humans (3). Its close association with humans has led to it featuring widely in folklore (6).
(From EO via ARKive)
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