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October 2023’s Animal Of The Month – Mice

By October 30, 2023 No Comments

We think our latest Animal of the Month is going to dress up as Mickey Mouse for Halloween. Or perhaps Mighty Mouse? Regardless, it’s October 30th and our featured creature, the mouse, wants to scurry out to the spotlight today to start getting ready for Halloween. We hope you enjoyed following us on “X” (a.k.a. Twitter) as we posted (tweeted) all month long about the mighty mouse. But if you missed any of our posts, never fear! You can find a summary right here! Did you know?:

  • In scientific classification mice belong to an enormous family of diverse rodents known as Muridae, which is comprised of more than 1,300 species.
  • Muridae is the largest family of mammals and not only includes many species of mice, but it also includes rats and gerbils.
  • But the one species of mouse that we will concentrate on for October’s Animal of the Month is the house mouse (Mus musculus).
  • The house mouse has been widely domesticated and is the species that we typically see kept in captivity as either family pets or in laboratories.
  • If you think that mice are seemingly everywhere, you would be right. Mice can be found almost everywhere humans are found.
  • The house mouse is believed to have originated in central Asia, but has followed human expansion across the globe and now can be found on every continent except Antarctica.
  • When not kept in captivity, mice take advantage of human shelter and food; resulting in the ability to live in habitats where they could not survive on their own (e.g. desert and tundra).
  • Mice not kept in captivity have what’s called a “commensal” relationship with humans, which – strictly speaking – means mice benefit from living close to humans without creating a reciprocal benefit or causing direct harm.
  • But while house mice aren’t dangerous in that they prefer to avoid humans, they can spread disease, damage food supplies and crops, and cause other hazards like fires by chewing on wires.
  • Both humans and mice have an incredible ability to adapt to living in different environments and are both generally considered to be two of the most widely distributed invasive species on the planet.
  • There was a Friday the 13th this month, so it was the perfect day highlight mice and their place in superstitions, symbolism and folklore.
  • To cite just one of countless examples of mice in folklore, symbolism and superstitions, in Europe during the Middle Ages it was believed that eating a mouse could cure bed-wetting problems – with regional differences on how the mouse should be eaten.
  • In another example, an old British farming superstition stated that if a large number of mice infested a house, they would be the bearers of bad luck to those who lived in that household.
  • It is well known that mice are small. Adult house mice typically reach a body length of about 6.5 – 10 cms (2.5 – 4 inches).
  • House mice have long thin tails that are about equal size to their body length. Their tails have rows of scales on them and even though they look hairless, their tails do have some fur on them.
  • The heads of house mice resemble triangles with pointed snouts and ears that are large, relative to their small head size.
  • In their natural state, house mice have short grey or light brown fur with buff or white fur on their bellies.
  • Mice kept in captivity as family pets are domesticated house mice, but they are known in the pet industry as fancy mice.
  • Fancy mice are selectively bred into a large number of different varieties that include not only different colours and patterns of fur, but also different types of fur.
  • When not living in captivity and eating diets monitored and controlled by their human caregivers, house mice are known for their ability and willingness to eat almost anything.
  • House mice are omnivores and will eat a wide variety of plant matter (particularly grain, fruit and seeds), insects and carrion.
  • When house mice get into human food, they will eat anything they can find – including dry pet food.
  • Mice will also carry away food and store it for later consumption. Mice usually store food in caches near their nests for easy access.
  • Despite popular belief, mice are actually very organized, clean and tidy.
  • Non-captive house mice will make elaborate underground burrows, which will have separated areas designated for food storage, sleeping and toileting.
  • What do mice have in common with cats and rabbits? In captivity, they all can be trained to use a litter box!
  • Mice are also meticulous at grooming and will groom themselves several times a day.
  • Mice have a very short lifespan. In the wild, they live only an average of six months to one year.
  • Mice who are kept in captivity under ideal conditions can live to an average of two years.
  • Patrick Stewart, a Pacific pocket mouse named after the famous actor, was verified earlier this year as the oldest living mouse in captivity by Guinness World Records.
  • As of Feb. 9, 2023, Patrick Stewart (a.k.a. “Pat”) was aged nine years, 210 days. Pat was born on July 14, 2013 at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and has lived there his entire life.
  • The previous record holder for oldest mouse in captivity was a house mouse named Fritzy, who lived to seven years and 225 days. Fritzy (1977-1985) was a family pet in the UK.
  • Mice are very intelligent animals and can be taught to do tricks!
  • Given that October always ends with Halloween, we wanted to wrap up our time with mice as our Animal of the Month for October by treating you to this video of Brösel the mouse doing a wide variety of tricks.

This is the third time we have featured mice as our Animal of the Month. Come on over to our blog posts from June 2016 and July 2020 to see our tweet summaries from those times we had mice in our spotlight!

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