Understanding Rodent Biology: The House Mouse

Arguably the world’s most well-travelled pest, here we take a look at the house mouse, Mus musculus, in detail.

When professional pest managers take the time to gain a thorough understanding of rodent biology, it leads to improved rodent control outcomes. The correct identification of rodent species and knowledge of best practice control methods make for successful rodent management programs.

Here we take a closer look at one particular pest rodent species: the house mouse (Mus musculus).

Pest status

The house mouse has become so successful in establishing itself worldwide due to a number of factors. These include its small size and ability to live in a wide variety of habitats, its high reproductive potential, omnivorous feeding habit and a liking of new objects and food types (neophiliac behaviour).

The house mouse is regarded as a pest species due to the substantial social, economic, and environmental damage it causes, particularly to rural communities and food production systems across Australia. Mice are known to be vectors of disease to both livestock and humans, which can occur through contact with their urine and faeces, and also through their carcasses. Rodents dribble their urine as they travel to help scent mark their territories, meaning urine is deposited everywhere, particularly along well-travelled routes.

Key behaviour

Primarily nocturnal creatures, house mice tend to spend the daytime hours in nests they have created, usually in natural hollows, shallow burrows, or cracks in dry soil. Mice only tend to be seen during the day when populations are high in number. They live in small colonies with their burrows located close to each other, with distinct runways often visible between the burrow entrances. These runways become more apparent when used frequently.

Inspection tips

When conducting a thorough site inspection, it’s important to look for signs such as contact with/spoilage of human food, footprints (running tracks), damage (gnaw marks), small droppings or nests. It’s crucial to take note and place bait stations or traps in these high traffic routes and locations.

Did you know?

The house mouse typically has a home radius of 1-10 metres but can extend this range following changes in food, water supply, harbourage availability and an increase in mouse populations.

Gaining control

When setting up a rodent management program, ensure enough bait stations are installed where activity is found and maintain a consistent supply of bait. Increase the frequency of bait station inspections until the rodent population is under control.

Preferred food

The house mouse is omnivorous with a varied diet including grains, seeds and nuts. It also likes foods high in fat and protein.

Recommended baits

House mice feed at multiple sites, around 20-30 different sites each day, taking a small amount of food each time. A typical mouse will consume about 3-4 g of food each day, about 20% of its body weight.

As mice are more erratic feeders (than rats) and tend to feed in different places at different times, it is essential that baits are fresh and palatable. Rodent baits containing bromadiolone, discovered by Liphatech in the 1970s, continue to be popular for controlling a mouse population. Liphatech offers its bromadiolone block bait in the form of Maki Block and Maki Wrapped. The block is milled with high grade food cereals and attractants, making it highly palatable, and the protective wrapper of Maki Wrapped makes the bait resistant to weather and non-target pests, such as slugs and snails.

Pest managers who prefer a more innovative bromadiolone bait have the option of Resolv Soft Bait, which is a mixture of milled grain and vegetable oil which has no wax and is highly palatable. Liphatech recommends rotating rodent baits for best practice.

Liphatech also offers a range of difethialone baits and hardware products including the new Aegis Clash multi-catch Clash system, suitable for use on house mice.

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