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In the wild state, house mice eat many kinds of vegetable matter, such as seeds, fleshy roots, leaves and stems. Insects (beetle larvae, caterpillars, and cockroaches) and meat (carrion) may be taken when available. In human habitation, mice consume any human food that is accessible as well as glue, soap, and other household materials. Many mice store their food or live within a human food storage facility.
Reproduction: House Mice are characterized by their tremendous reproductive potential. Breeding occurs throughout the year, although wild mice may have a reproductive season extending only from April to September. The estrous cycle is 4-6 days long, with estrus lasting less than a day. Females experience a postpartum estrus 12-18 hours after giving birth. Females generally have 5-10 litters per year if conditions are suitable, but as many as 14 have been reported. Gestation is 19-21 days but may be extended by several days if the female is lactating. Litters consist of 3-12 (generally 5 or 6) offspring, which are born naked and blind. They are fully furred after 10 days, open their eyes at 14 days, are weaned at 3 weeks, and reach sexual maturity at 5-7 weeks. Average life span is about 2 years in captivity, but individuals have lived for as long as 6 years. In the wild, most mice do not live beyond 12-18 months.
Behavior: In the wild state, house mice generally dwell in cracks in rocks or walls or make underground burrows consisting of a complex network of tunnels, several chambers for nesting and storage, and three or four exits. When living with humans, house mice nest behind rafters, in woodpiles, storage areas, or any hidden spot near a source of food. They construct nests from rags, paper, or other soft substances and line them with finer shredded material.
House mice are generally nocturnal, although some are active during the day in human dwellings. House mice are quick runners (up to 8 miles per hour), good climbers, jumpers, and also swim well. Despite this, they rarely travel more than 50 feet from their established homes.
Hose Mice are generally considered both territorial and colonial when living commensally with humans. Dominant males set up a territory including a family group of several females and their young. Occasionally, subordinate males may occupy a territory or males may share territories. Females establish a loose hierarchy within the territories, but they are far less aggressive than the males. Aggression within family groups is rare, but all the individuals in a territory will defend an area against outsiders. Young mice are generally made to disperse through adult aggression, although some (especially females) may remain in the vicinity of their parents.
Habitat: House mice generally live in close association with humans-- in houses, barns, granaries, etc. They also occupy cultivated fields, fence rows, and even wooded areas, but they seldom stray far from buildings. Some individuals spend the summer in fields and move into barns and houses with the onset of cool autumn weather.
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