There are many different types of mice, although you will only own fancy mice at pets it is still interesting to know about other types. Typically you will only ever see fancy mice, or common house mice for sale in classified ads, in pet stores, and from breeders. So no need to always check the breed, but knowledge is power. So I hope you enjoy this article, if you have any further information to add, please drop me a message or comment.
Not all mice found in the garden, or in your home, are the same. There are quite a few different breeds, types, colors, and variations. This can be broken down into a few categories, and not all of the following are commonly found in every country. But this article should work as a good general guide to the different types of mice, and some of their behavior. If you have made a friend with a wild mouse in your garden, try to identify what type of mouse it is before feeding it. Not all mice have the same dietary habits as fancy mice.
This is the breed of mouse that you have likely seen in your house at some point. They have a pointed snout, little round ears, and a long tail with almost no fur on at all. They have been tamed over the years and are not always afraid of humans, or taking risks to get into a house in search of food.
The house mouse is also the breed kept as pets in the family home. Known as fancy mice and bred to be available in a wide range of colors the connection is not always made. The house mouse is a lot more wild due to its upbringing in the wild, without the interaction of humans they behave differently to the fancy mouse you’ll find in a pet store.
House mice are omnivores, so while a lot of people assume they are just after seeds or grains to eat, they can in fact eat meat as well. I covered all of the foods mice eat in another post I wrote, but be aware that no food is safe from them having a nibble on. They will usually set up nests from whatever bits of material they can find, and usually near a good food source.
Wood Mouse or Field Mouse
Commonly found across Europe the wood mouse, or field mouse as it is often called – can be found as the name suggests, in woodland areas. They are particularly adept at living in wooded areas because they are excellent at burrowing and building nests in areas dense in plants.
Wood mice eat mostly seeds they find in the wild. They carry excess seeds back to their nests and store them for when needed. If you go out tracking in the woods and stumble across a nest you will often see a collection of seeds piled up. They do eat small insects and berries too when seeds are in short supply.
If a wood mouse is caught and picked up by its tail, in a similar defense mechanism to gerbils they have the ability to shed the end. More than likely it will never grow back, this does not have any further implications on its health.
The deer mouse is a distant relative to the house mouse discussed above. They do look very similar at first glance, however, they have larger eyes, and a two-tone color to their body. Their back is often a dark brown, while they underside is white.
In comparison to the house mouse, or domesticated variations, the deer mouse is very agile. They can jump much higher, run faster, and this means they can reach many places other mice cannot.
Their agility makes them less desirable as household pets, handling them is difficult and if they escape you have a mission on your hands rounding them up. They are however easy to breed, and often used as laboratory mice in studies. They also have a much longer life expectancy than domestic mice, deer mice live on average between 5-7 years.
Believed to have started occupying areas after previously been released from captive animals, harvest mice received their name by taking up habitat in areas of tall grass. They eat grain from the heads of grain in fields, never to the point of becoming a nuisance or damaging crops though.
They are great at climbing, and are very adept at climbing up long reeds and grass to retrieve food. They have exceptional hearing and are able to react to sounds they can hear up to 7 miles away. If they sense danger approaching they will run and hide long before the noises are close, giving them an edge in staying alive from predators.
Harvest mice are the only British mammal known to build nests made of grass well above ground level. You’ll find their nests in dense grass, rushes, cereal or hedgerows, situated in an area hard for larger predators to get to.
The dormouse is an interesting rodent. They are technically not mice, yet they are commonly associated with mice so I thought I would give a brief breakdown as part of this overall topic. They have a mouse-like appearance, with one noticeably different characteristic – their tails are furry, unlike common mice.
Another interesting fact about dormice is that they hibernate during cold months, sometimes for as much as 6 months out of a year. During the summer months they load up on food and put on some fat, this is done to carry them through the months in hibernation. They can wake for brief periods to eat food, usually food that they have stored near by for such an occasion.
Check out this YouTube video that became a viral sensation – a Dormouse snoring!
Alabama Beach Mouse
The Alabama beach mouse is an endangered species of mouse. They are commonly found nesting in dunes on the beach. Primarily on the Alabama coast in the US, as the name would suggest. It’s largely due to human progress in the areas that the numbers are dwindling.
As you can see from the picture they are cute mice. They camouflage nicely in with the sand, often making it hard to spot them. This serves as a help when trying to stay out of detection from predators. But also means that humans and animals are not always aware when destroying their nests.
They are not kept as pets as they are not tame mice, plus they need to be allowed to populate in their natural habitat. They eat a mix of plants and seeds, as well as insects on the beach.
Yellow Necked Mouse
The Yellow Necked Mouse is another mouse commonly found in the UK. It’s one of the British mice that will come into homes and properties looking for food and annoying house owners. I’m not sure how anyone would be annoyed about such a cute creature. But that’s just me of course.
They are wild mice and not to be kept as pets. You can tell a yellow-necked mouse due to it’s yellow strip on the fur on its underside. They also have larger eyes than a house mouse, and are a little larger.
They tend to stay very close to where they have set up a nest. So if they are in your home, the will either be nesting near by or in your home somewhere. Another interesting fact is that yellow necked mice do not hibernate, they are active all year round.
Zebra mice, or African Striped Grass mice as they are also called are interesting looking mice. They are obviously native to Africa and a lot more common there than on British shores. But you can find them through breeders.
They actually make great pets, most of the time. I say most of the time because they are known for having timid personalities. Although, if you handle them from an early age and build a bond, they can be social and lot more approachable.
They like to have company in their cages. Also because they live in grassy areas in the wild, if you can provide them with plenty of grass and wood in their cages they will be happier.
Of all the different types of mice on this page. The zebra mouse is possible the most striking looking with its stripy coat. You will have to do a little looking around to find one, but they are worth it.
I have kept pet mice for a number of years and always had a fascination with these interesting, fun little creatures.
I'm always looking for new and interesting mice related information and will always help other mice owners where possible.