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House mouse (mus musculus)

House mouse ( mus musculus )

Subordination : Mouse relatives (Myomorpha)
Superfamily : Mice-like (Muroidea)
Family : Long-tailed mice (Muridae)
Subfamily : Old World Mice (Murinae)
Tribe : Murini
Genre : Mice
Scientific name
Linnaeus , 1758

The mice ( Mus ) are a genus of rodents from the group of old world mice (Murinae). The genus includes almost 40 species, of which the house mouse is the best known and most widespread. Most of the other species live in Africa as well as in South and Southeast Asia.


Skull of an Algerian house mouse from the collection of the Wiesbaden Museum

Mice reach a head-to-trunk length of 4.5 to 12.5 centimeters, with a 3 to 11 centimeter long tail. The weight, as far as known, is between 12 and 35 grams. The fur is soft, rough or prickly, depending on the species, its color ranges on the upper side from light gray through various gray and brown tones to black-brown, the underside is lighter. The tail appears hairless but is covered with fine hair.

distribution and habitat

The original distribution area apparently included Africa , southern Europe and large parts of southern and southeastern Asia . The house mouse has achieved worldwide distribution in the wake of humans and is the only species that also lives in America and Australia. Mice are found in a variety of habitats including forests, savannas, grasslands, and rocky areas. However, some species have specialized in their role as cultural followers to such an extent that they are mostly found in the vicinity of human dwellings. In addition to the house mouse, this applies to the African harvest mouse , and to a limited extent also to the rice field mouse and the falcon .

Way of life

The wild species are predominantly nocturnal, whereas the species following culture can be active at any time of the day or night. They are mostly soil dwellers, but can climb and - at least in the case of the house mouse - also swim well. They use crevices in the rocks, self-dug earthworks or man-made shelters as resting places.

Mice feed on a variety of plant materials, such as seeds, roots, leaves and stems. Some species also eat insects and other small animals when available. The following species eat every available human food.


Mus musculoides , a species of African mouse

Wilson & Reeder (2005) name the mice as the namesake of the Mus genus group, which also includes the Ethiopian striped mouse ( Muriculus imberbis ). According to the genetic studies by Lecompte et al. (2008) the mice form their own tribe , Murini, within the old world mice.

A total of 39 species are known, which can be divided into 4 sub-genera:

  • Subgenus Mus
    • The Indian little mouse ( Mus booduga ) is common on the Indian subcontinent.
    • The rice field mouse ( Mus caroli ) lives in southern China and Southeast Asia.
    • The fallow vole ( Mus cervicolor ) is distributed in fragments from northern India to Indonesia.
    • The Cook mouse ( Mus cookii ) lives in northern South and Southeast Asia.
    • The Cyprus mouse ( Mus cypriacus ) is endemic to Cyprus.
    • The South Indian mouse ( Mus famulus ) occurs on the southern tip of India.
    • The Laos mouse ( Mus fragilicauda ) is known from a few localities in Thailand and Laos.
    • The Macedonian house mouse ( Mus macedonicus ) lives on the Balkan Peninsula and in Asia Minor.
    • The house mouse ( Mus musculus ) originally lived in Eurasia, but has spread worldwide in the wake of humans.
    • The ear mouse ( Mus spicilegus ) is widespread in central and eastern Europe.
    • The Algerian house mouse ( Mus spretus ) occurs in the western Mediterranean region (in north-western Africa and the Iberian Peninsula).
    • The earth-colored mouse ( Mus terricolor ) is common on the Indian subcontinent.
  • Subgenus Nannomys
    • The Baoulei harvest mouse ( Mus baoulei ) occurs from Guinea to Togo.
    • The toad dwarf ( Mus bufo ) lives in a small area on the East African Rift Valley .
    • The Callewaert harvest mouse ( Mus callewaerti ) lives in the south of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Angola.
    • The Gounda harvest mouse ( Mus goundae ) is only known from one site in the Central African Republic.
    • The Hausa harvest mouse ( Mus haussa ) inhabits a large area in West Africa.
    • The desert harvest mouse ( Mus indutus ) occurs in arid regions in southern Africa.
    • The Mahomet harvest mouse ( Mus mahomet ) is native from the Ethiopian highlands to Uganda and Kenya.
    • The Matthey harvest mouse ( Mus mattheyi ) lives in western Africa from Senegal to Ghana.
    • The African harvest mouse ( Mus minutoides ) is distributed from southern Sudan to South Africa.
    • The Temminck harvest mouse ( Mus musculoides ) inhabits large parts of western and central Africa.
    • The Neave harvest mouse ( Mus neavei ) lives in Zambia and South Africa, and possibly other countries as well.
    • The South African harvest mouse ( Mus orangiae ) occurs in higher elevations in South Africa and Lesotho.
    • The Oubangui harvest mouse ( Mus oubanguii ) is only known from one site in the Central African Republic.
    • The Peters harvest mouse ( Mus setulosus ) has a fragmentary range in western and central Africa.
    • The Setzer harvest mouse ( Mus setzeri ) is known from Namibia, Botswana and Zambia.
    • The Thomas harvest mouse ( Mus sorella ) lives in the area of ​​the East African Rift Valley.
    • The East African harvest mouse ( Mus tenellus ) inhabits arid regions from Sudan and Ethiopia to Tanzania.
    • The Triton mouse ( Mus triton ) is common in central and eastern Africa.
  • Subgenus Coelomys
  • Subgenus Pyromys

The Algerian house mouse, the Macedonian house mouse, the corn mouse and the Cyprus mouse have long been regarded as subspecies of the house mouse; their independence has only been proven by more recent morphological and biochemical analyzes.


Most species of mice are common and not endangered. However, some species with a small range are endangered species. The IUCN lists M. famulus and M. fernandoni (as "critically endangered" endangered ) and M. Mayori and M. Vulcani as "endangered" ( vulnerable ). For M. callewaerti , M. crociduroides , M. fragilicauda , M. goundae , M. neavei and M. oubanguii , too little data are available and are listed as ( data deficient ).


  • Emilie Lecompte, Ken Aplin, Christiane Denys, François Catzeflis, Marion Chades, Pascale Chevret: Phylogeny and biogeography of African Murinae based on mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences, with a new tribal classification of the subfamily. In: BMC Evolutionary Biology. Vol. 8, 199, 2008, pp. 1-21, doi: 10.1186 / 1471-2148-8-199 .
  • Ronald M. Nowak: Walker's Mammals of the World. 2 volumes. 6th edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore MD u. a. 1999, ISBN 0-8018-5789-9 .
  • Don E. Wilson , DeeAnn M. Reeder (Eds.): Mammal Species of the World. A taxonomic and geographic Reference. 2 volumes. 3. Edition. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore MD 2005, ISBN 0-8018-8221-4 .
  • Joyce Pope, Richard Orr (illustrations): The great lexicon of mammals . Patmos, Düsseldorf 2003, ISBN 3-491-42013-X (original title: World mammals . Translated by Wolfgang Hensel).

Web links

Commons : Mice  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Maus  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • Mus on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Retrieved October 19, 2009.