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House Mouse Identification and Behaviors

Protect your home or business from house mice by learning techniques for identification and control.

House mouse illustration
Mus musculus
Light brown, gray or black
Short hair on body, ears & tail
Up to 20 cm


How do I get rid of house mice?

What Orkin Does

Almost all mice problems require the use of an Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) approach. Therefore, the first thing your Orkin pest management professional (PMP) will do is correctly identify the mouse pest and develop a treatment plan that is effective and efficient for the particular species causing the problems.

Depending on your specific situation, the Orkin PMP may employ both non-chemical and chemical methods. Some effective non-chemical control procedures your PMP will recommend include:

  • Exclusion – sealing off sites that allow mice to enter a structure.

  • Sanitation & debris – Your PMP will recommend using both inside and outside sanitation measures to help minimize available food and water that attracts and supports a mouse population.

  • Traps – Many times your treatment plan will include using traps and other mechanical devices to kill or remove mice.

  • Baits – Your PMP may also elect to use chemical products, such as rodent baits, that are formulated to kill mice.

One final thing you should keep in mind – don’t procrastinate when you see signs of a mouse problem. If you wait too long to start control measures, a few of them can quickly become a large infestation.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding House Mice


  • Color: House mice are covered in short hair that is light brown or gray to black in color, with lighter bellies.

  • Body: Their ears and tail also bear hair, although much less than their bodies.

  • Size: Adult mice weigh approximately 12 to 30 grams and can grow up to 20 cm from the nose to the tip of the tail.

  • Feces: Droppings are rod-shaped and pointed on both ends.

The house mouse is a small mammal named for its propensity to live within human habitats. Next to humans, the common house mouse is one of the most prevalent mammalian species in the world. Native to Asia, these rodents have spread throughout the world. They are most commonly seen living within or near human habitations. They may also be used as laboratory subjects and contribute greatly to scientific studies.


Normally, the house mouse makes its home in farm fields, grassy and wooded areas, building nests in areas that are dark and protected from the elements and close to a readily available food source.


When available, the house mouse prefers seeds and nuts in its diet, but this opportunistic feeder will eat almost anything available.


Very inquisitive in nature, the house mouse will spend the day roaming its territory, exploring anything new or out of the ordinary.

When the temperatures outside begin to drop, house mice, since they don’t hibernate, begin searching for a warmer place to live. Often attracted by the smell of food and the warmth of a structure, the house mouse can use any opening, such as utility lines, pipe openings, and gaps beneath doors, to gain entry into a home.


House mice walk, run and stand on all fours. They can stand on the hind legs, as well, and are supported by the tail, which also provides balance while in motion.


The house mouse has a sharp sense of hearing and communicates with other house mice through squeaks. Some of these squeaks are audible to humans, while others extend into the ultrasonic range.

Prevention Tips

To prevent mice from entering the home, all cracks, crevices, holes and gaps larger than a pen cap should be sealed with cement or a mixing compound. It is not advised that wood be used to seal these holes, as mice are capable of chewing through those surfaces.

Cleanliness may also have an effect on pest infestations. Be sure to wash dishes immediately following use. Food should be stored in glass or metal containers with tight lids. Mice acquire most of their water from scavenged food particles and no crumbs or morsels should be left on tabletops or floors.

When a home is already infested, prevention methods prove inefficient. The most effective mouse control methods are those administered by trained professionals.

More Information

One-page Fact Sheet about Rodents

House Mouse Enemies

How to Find a Dead Mouse in the House

House Mouse Life Cycle

Signs of a House Mouse Infestation

Where Do House Mice Hide?

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