Mus musculus Click to enlarge image
House Mouse, Smiths Lake N.S.W. Image: Dick Whitford
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    musculus
    Genus
    Mus
    Family
    Muridae
    Order
    Rodentia
    Subclass
    Eutheria
    Class
    Mammalia
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    Body 60 mm - 100 mm, Tail 75 mm - 100 mm, Weight 10 g - 25 g

Introduction

Besides humans, the House Mouse is probably one of the most successful living mammals, with a widespread distribution throughout Australia and the world.

Identification

The distinguishing features of the House Mouse include:

  • Front teeth: One pair of distinctive chisel shaped incisors with hard yellow enamel on front surfaces.
  • Head: Bulging eyes in a small head.
  • Ears: Large rounded ears.
  • Colouring: Brownish-grey above, white to grey or pale yellow below; soft dense fur to 7mm long.
  • Tail: Scaly tail, about same length as body.

Similar species

Sometimes confused with small marsupials e.g. Antechinus

Habitat

The House Mouse lives mainly in urban areas, being closely associated with humans. It prefers to live in secluded parts of buildings, reed beds, cracks in the ground or shallow burrow systems, make nests of shredded materials.

Distribution

The House Mouse is found throughout Australia. At times it may reach plague proportions. Like humans, it is so successful because of its adaptability in utilising available resources.



Other behaviours and adaptations

Populations can increase quickly as the House Mouse is able to breed at two months of age and its litter size is between four and eight. Populations of the House Mouse increase significantly about 18 months after a fire, at a time when native rodent numbers are low. Populations also appear to increase after rainfall. The large populations of House Mice may last three to four years until the native rodent populations increase and the House Mouse population declines.