mouse eating off the plate in a pittsburgh home

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The most common rodent in many parts of the world is the house mouse. This light brown, or dusty gray mouse, with its cream colored belly, ranges from two and a half to three and a quarter inches long, and sports a thin tail that is as long as its body. Weighing in at 12 to 30 grams, most house mice can fit through a hole the size of a nickel, and jump up to a foot in the air. Their small, round, black eyes are able to see in extreme low light. Their round ears are able to hear other mice communicating through squeaks in distant hollow pockets. Their little button noses are so acute, they not only use it to smell food on the other side of a wall, they use it to communicate with each other about social dominance, family composition, and reproductive readiness, through pheromones and other smells. And, their whiskers allow them to feel air movements and surface textures as they navigate through wall voids.


The reason the house mouse is so common, is that it reproduces quite quickly. A single female house mouse can produce as many as eight litters a year, averaging six pups per litter. It only takes twenty one days for a female to carry her babies to term, and six weeks after these new babies are born, they begin to mate.


A house mouse can get along living in a hole out in the middle of a field, but it finds man-made structures, and human food cabinets much more appealing. Human dwellings offer a large variety of things to gnaw on, and since house mice are rodents, gnawing is an essential task to keep their incisors whittled down.


In the wild, a house mouse can eat a variety of food, but they prefer seeds and insects. In your house, they will get into grain, cereal, pet food, crackers, seeds, and more. Since they are omnivorous, their diet is quite extensive. They are also capable of eating strange things, like soap, glue, and other household materials.


House mice enter homes through holes, gaps, vulnerable patches of rotted wood, or an open door. Often they will find a rotted area near the foundation, and chew their way in, or access your wall voids from a gap in your roofline.


House mice are a danger to homes, because of their propensity to gnaw on wood and wiring, but their danger to humans is far greater. Though they are not as serious a health risk as rats, mice can contaminate food stores with their fur and droppings, because their foraging habits bring them in contact with many rotting or decaying things, and the bacteria gets on their fur and into their bellies, causing them to spread diseases, like: rickettsial pox, tularemia, murine typhus, salmonella, bubonic plague, and more. A recent study even linked them to, mouse mammary tumor virus (MMTV), that researchers believe is linked to breast cancer in women.

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