Where do mice nest?

Written by melissa j. bell
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Mice live all over the world, in nearly every country and climate. Their proximity to humans enables some mice to live in otherwise inhospitable areas, where people inadvertently provide food, water and nesting materials. There are many classifications of mouse and each of them has their own nesting behaviours and habits tailored to help them survive.

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Types

Most people are familiar with mice in the family Muridae, which includes the common house mouse, the tiny European harvest mouse and the African tree mouse. House mice always live close to humans, are fairly territorial, and are what most people picture when they think of mice. Other mice that people may be familiar with are in the Crecitidae family, and include species native to the Americas such as the deer mouse, the American harvest mouse, the grasshopper mouse and the South American field mouse. These live in the wild and build their nests in a variety of habitats.

Geography

While house mice live virtually everywhere, other species build their nests in fairly specific regions. The deer mouse, which exists all over North America, lives primarily in prairies or fields, and can be found along roadsides and fence rows. The white-footed mouse lives in forests and brush lands, and can sometimes be found along river bottoms in wooded areas. In desert areas such as the American southwest, mice like the canyon mouse and the cactus mouse make their homes. Some mice, such as the American southeastern-dwelling beach mouse, even live in sand fields and among dry scrub.

Features

Mouse nests can be created out of just about anything, and are often baseball-sized or larger. Mice live underground, on the ground and aboveground. The dormouse creates round globular nests in trees, rock crevices and thatched roofs. Mice like the cactus mouse and canyon mouse move into abandoned woodrat dens and burrows, and the salt-marsh harvest mouse sometimes moves into old birds' nests. The cotton mouse in the southeastern United States nests well above the ground in trees, while the deer mouse nests under logs, in burrows, between rocks, in birds' nests and in old mattresses. The beach mouse makes its own narrow burrows and the grasshopper mouse keeps separate burrows for food, sleeping and hiding. Mice often adjust abandoned burrows by adding extra entrances and tunnels, depending on the needs of the species.

Effects

House mice commonly live in homes, barns and granaries. They nest in woodpiles, storage areas and inside walls. People tend to dislike the house mouse because it occupies human spaces and causes a great deal of mess. House mice can be difficult to trap and get rid of due to their small size and large numbers; there are always more and they can enter homes through small gaps that humans cannot find. They often destroy household items like furniture and clothing, and cause damage to the woodwork in a house. People consider the house mouse to be a pest and spend a great deal of effort on extermination.

Considerations

Although the house mouse does not spread as much disease or destruction by nesting in homes as some of its relatives, and is not purposely causing trouble for humans, mouse infestations should not be allowed to get out of hand. Mouse droppings can contaminate food and air, and can contribute to illness in humans and pets. Some diseases they may spread include salmonella poisoning, tularaemia, murine typus and the mouse mammary tumour virus. They can also spread a variety of conditions to pet rodents by nesting in human homes.

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