Updated at: 28-09-2023 - By: petstutorial

Mice are common pests around the world, but not all mice are the same species. In this article, we will explore the five most common mouse species, providing information on their characteristics, habitats, and behaviors.

While our focus will primarily be on the most common mice in the United States, we will also discuss other regions where these species overlap.


The 5 Most Common Mouse Species

House Mouse (Mus musculus)


The House Mouse (Mus musculus) is one of the most common and widespread mammal species globally, except for Antarctica. It is native to Eurasia but has been introduced worldwide through its association with humans.

House mice are highly adaptive, with behavioral and physiological traits that allow them to thrive in various environments. They are commensal rodents, meaning they share their habitat with humans.

– House mice are 65 to 95 mm long from the tip of their nose to the end of their body, with tails measuring 60 to 105 mm in length.
– Their fur ranges in color from light brown to black, and they generally have white or buffy bellies.
– They have long tails with very little fur and circular rows of scales.
– Domesticated strains may have different colors and patterns, such as white, black, or black and white.

Habitat and Diet:
– House mice are found in various habitats, including houses, barns, granaries, cultivated fields, fencerows, and even wooded areas, but they seldom stray far from buildings.
– They can inhabit inhospitable areas, such as tundra and desert, due to their association with humans.
– In urban areas, they are commonly found in houses, shops, malls, warehouses, factories, and coal mines.
– House mice primarily feed on grains and seeds but can eat a variety of foods.

– House mice are nocturnal, making 20 to 30 foraging trips each night and leaving 40 to 100 droppings scattered around in a single day.
– They are known for their rapid rate of reproduction, with a gestation period of about 19 to 21 days and litters that can be quite large.
– In the wild, house mice generally live in cracks in rocks, walls, or make underground tunnels, with their homes having several “rooms”.

Interesting Facts:
– The house mouse has been domesticated as the pet or fancy mouse and is also used as a laboratory mouse, making it one of the most important model organisms in biology and medicine.
– The complete mouse reference genome was sequenced in 2002, providing valuable insights into mammalian biology.

Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)

The Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) is a rodent native to North America, with a distribution ranging from the northern tree line in Alaska and Canada to central Mexico. It is absent from the southeastern United States and some coastal areas of Mexico within this range.

The species was formerly grouped with the western deer mouse (P. sonoriensis) and referred to as the North American deermouse.

– Deer mice have a small body size, typically measuring 119 to 222 mm in length and weighing between 10 and 24 grams.
– Tail length varies in different populations, ranging from 45 mm to 105 mm.
– They are typically larger and have larger tails in woodland forms.

Habitat and Diet:
– Deer mice occupy various ecological zones, including alpine habitats, northern boreal forests, deserts, grasslands, brushlands, agricultural fields, southern montane woodlands, and arid upper tropical habitats.
– They are found on boreal, temperate, and tropical islands, but their most common habitats are prairies, bushy areas, and woodlands.
– Their diet consists of seeds, grains, berries, and other plant materials.

– Deer mice are known for their rapid development, being very altricial at birth but quickly growing and developing.
– They are active throughout the year and are primarily nocturnal, although they may also be active during the day.

Interesting Facts:
– Deer mice are important model organisms for studying natural variation, as they have been extensively studied in terms of population genetics, disease ecology, longevity, endocrinology, and behavior.

Western Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis)


The Western Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis) is a small neotomine mouse native to most of the western United States. It is often confused with the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, although the two are now treated as separate species.

The Western Harvest Mouse has a wide distribution, ranging from southwest British Columbia and southeast Alberta to west Texas, northeast Arkansas, northwest Indiana, southwest Wisconsin, and the interior of Mexico to Oaxaca.

– Western Harvest Mice are relatively small, with adults growing up to 11 to 17 centimeters in length, including their tails.
– They typically weigh between 8 and 17 grams.
– The upper incisors of these mice have distinct lengthwise grooves.
– They have brownish fur with buff sides, a white belly, and an indistinct white stripe along the spine.

Habitat and Diet:
– Western Harvest Mice are found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, shrublands, and forests.
– They are known for their ability to climb and are often found in grasses, shrubs, and low tree branches.
– These mice primarily feed on seeds, fruits, and insects.

– Western Harvest Mice are primarily nocturnal and are active year-round.
– They are solitary animals, with males and females only coming together for mating.
– These mice are known for their ability to jump and can leap up to 18 inches vertically.

Interesting Facts:
– The Western Harvest Mouse is the smallest rodent species found in Channel Islands National Park.
– In Montana, these mice average 5 1/2 inches in length and weigh less than 1/2 ounce.
– Their scaly tails make up more than half of their total length.

White-Footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus)

The White-Footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is a rodent native to North America, with a range that extends from Ontario, Quebec, Labrador, and the Maritime Provinces to the southwestern United States and Mexico.

They are also found in southern Nova Scotia as a disjunct population. In Texas, they are often referred to as wood mice.

– Adult White-Footed Mice measure 90-100 mm (3.5-3.9 in) in length, excluding the tail, which can add another 63-97 mm (2.5-3.8 in).
– They weigh between 20 and 30 g (0.7-1.1 oz).
– The fur on their back ranges from light brown to reddish brown, while the fur on their stomach and feet is white.
– Their tails are darker on the top and lighter on the bottom.

Habitat and Diet:
– White-Footed Mice are most abundant in warm, dry forests, and brushlands at low to mid-elevations.
– They can also be found in a wide variety of habitats, including higher elevation forests, semi-deserts, suburban areas, and agricultural settings, due to their adaptability.
– These mice are the most abundant small rodent in mixed forests in the eastern United States and in brushy areas bordering agricultural lands.
– Their diet consists of seeds, nuts, fruits, fungi, and insects.

– White-Footed Mice are primarily nocturnal and are known for their agility and climbing abilities.
– They are solitary animals, with males and females only coming together for mating.
– These mice are important in seed dispersal and are known to cache food for later use.

Interesting Facts:
– The average lifespan for White-Footed Mice is 45.5 months for females and 47.5 months for males, with a maximum lifespan of 96 months.
– They are not found west of the Rocky Mountains or the Sierra Madre, nor in states along the Atlantic coast south of Virginia.

Cotton Mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus)

The Cotton Mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus) is a species of rodent in the family Cricetidae found in the woodlands of the US South. It is closely related to the white-footed mouse and shares a similar appearance, although the cotton mouse is larger in size, with a longer skull and hind feet.

These mice have dark brown bodies, white feet, and white bellies, and their common name comes from their habit of using raw cotton in building nests.

– Adult Cotton Mice are about 180 mm (7.1 in) long, with a tail around 78 mm (3.1 in), and weigh between 34 and 51 g.
– They have dark brown bodies, white feet, and white bellies.
– The species has a longer skull and hind feet compared to the white-footed mouse.

Habitat and Diet:
– Cotton Mice are primarily found in the woodlands of the US South, including swampy woodlands, brushy areas, bluffs, and upland forests.
– Their diet consists of seeds, nuts, fruits, fungi, and insects.

– Cotton Mice are primarily nocturnal, being most active during the night.
– Their behavior is influenced by the many predators in their environment, which may include owls, snakes, and other small carnivores.

Subspecies and Conservation:
– One subspecies of the Cotton Mouse, the Chadwick Beach cotton mouse (P. g. restrictus), was last seen in 1938 and is now presumed extinct.
– Another subspecies, the Key Largo cotton mouse (P. g. allapaticola), is listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. This subspecies is brown on top with white underparts, has large ears, protruding eyes, and a furry tail. It is found in the Florida Keys and is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation.


1. What are the most common mouse species?

The 5 most common mouse species are the House Mouse (Mus musculus), Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), Western Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis), White-Footed Mouse (Peromyscus leucopus), and Cotton Mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus).

2. How can I tell if I have a mouse infestation?

Signs of a mouse infestation include gnawed holes in stored foods, piled papers, insulation, droppings, tiny hairs, food scraps or wrappings left behind, and the presence of live or dead mice.

3. What is the difference between a mouse and a rat?

Mice are smaller in weight and length, while rats are visibly larger and rounder.

4. Where do mice live?

Most house mice are commensal, living in close proximity to humans and relying on us for food and shelter. They can be found in houses, barns, warehouses, granaries, fields, and farms. In cooler weather, they often make their way indoors for warmth.

5. What do mice eat?

Mice have a varied diet that includes seeds, nuts, fruits, fungi, and insects.

6. How long do mice live?

The average lifespan of a mouse in the wild is less than 1 year.

7. Are mice a threat to humans?

Mice can be a nuisance and a health risk, as they can contaminate food, cause damage to property, and spread diseases.

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