The Different Kinds of Mice

mouse in the wild

Identifying Mice from Rats

We hear the words mouse and rats all the time when talking about household pests. Sometimes we go as far as finding the best humane mouse traps and not humane rat traps. So how do you find out if a mouse is a mouse or a rat is a rat?

Mice are generally smaller than rats, have bigger ears and have a pointed snout. They also have pale colored hands, feet, and tail. Rats will have a darker coloring on the dorsal part of their tails.

What are the Different Kinds of Mice

Now that we know how mice and rats differ, let’s take a look at the different species of mice. 

1. House Mouse or Mus Musculus

This is the most common mouse found everywhere around the world. They can be found in a variety of environments – homes, commercial buildings, fields, or even agricultural areas. These mice vary in color from black to brown, grey to white. Mice will have a higher squeak than rats. Mice use their tails for balancing and is the single most important body part for thermoregulation. It’s also used as a base when they stand up using their hind legs.

2. Marsupial Mice

This mouse lives in areas of Australia and New Guinea. Marsupial mice are primitive mammals, meaning they resemble the first mammals that kangaroos diverged from. This species’ diet is composed of insects. The Tasmanian devil is a marsupial mouse, being the only exception to the diet since they primarily eat dead mammals. The adult forms of these mice usually live solitary or in groups of two or three.

3. Pocket Mice

These rodents are aptly named as pocket mice because of their size. They burrow underground, and are commonly found in the western regions of North America. As part of their camouflage and defensive mechanism, these mice’ fur color generally matches the soil color in which they live. Pocket mice primary diet involves seed. During the autumn and spring season, the mice hoard seeds and store it in burrows where it will absorb the ambient moisture in the air. This becomes especially useful in dry environments where water should be conserved as much as possible.

4. Harvest Mice

These small mice have large eyes and ears that are especially useful during the night. Harvest mice have prehensile tails, and enables them to use it together with their hind feet to grip stems. This allows them to make use of their hands to forage for seeds. During the winter season, they will develop thicker hair to help them survive.

Harvest mice have specially developed ears for detecting low frequencies that let them become aware of predators from far away. In addition to this defense mechanism, they have large feet and hands in proportion to their bodies so they can scurry away quickly in case predators are in the vicinity of their feeding areas.

5. Pebble Mound Mice

This species of mice reside in Australia. They have a characteristic white underbelly with a tail as long as its head-body size. They’re found in the tropical areas of Australia where there is an abundance of pebbles, hence the naming convention. 

Pebble mice require optimum weather and environment. They are also good indicators of vegetation as they live mostly in areas where eucalyptus and acacia trees grow. They live in mounds up to groups of ten or more. 

6. Florida Mice

Florida mice are characterized by a white underbelly and naked ears. They also have a skunk-like odor which helps ward off predators. Florida mice live in coastal areas. They also live in dry areas, and can be found in trees like turkey oaks and slash pines.

Florida mice are also known as gopher mice because they cohabitate with gopher tortoises. Florida mice benefit gophers, as they feed on ticks that parasitize gopher frogs and tortoises. Just like squirrels, they subsist on acorns.

Geography of Mice

All Mus species are natives of Eurasia and Africa. Mice are found in various landscapes such as highlands or lowlands, forests, and grasslands. If an area has a body of water or is moist, expect mice to be close inhabitants.

Mice not only live in wet environments, they live in dry areas too. They also thrive in deserts and rocky slopes. Mice are extremely adaptable to every place on earth, with the exception of Antarctica.

Which Ones Are Household Pests

Most of these mice live out in the wild. The only mouse that is a household pest is Mus musculus. Each mouse can possibly be a vector of disease, especially mice that live in the same environment as deer.

Mus musculus or the house mouse constant exposure to pollution and unsanitary environments make them the most “dangerous” out of all the species. They carry with them various kinds of bacterial and viral agents. Making sure they stay out of your house is important.