From house mice to meadow vole

House mouse, field mouse, garden mouse, bank vole, wood vole, or meadow vole: numerous species of mice live in America. But what native species of mice are there?

We will introduce you to the most critical types of mice in America and, at the same time, tell you which types of mice in your home environment you should take a closer look at. Find out everything about the appearance, habitat, as well as the biology and way of life of rodents (Rodentia).

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House mouse

Mus domesticus )

house mouse



The appearance of the house mouse is characterised by its mouse- to brown-grey fur upper and its rabbit-coloured, light fur underside. The body of the house mouse is about 7-10 cm long (trunk length), the tail is provided with clearly visible scale rings, only slightly hairy and about as long as the body. The weight of the house mouse is around 15-30 grams; in contrast to this, colour mice or white laboratory mice, which often reach 40-65 grams, are significantly heavier.

  • Size: approx. 7 to 10 cm.
  • Weight: approx. 15 to 30 g.
  • Color: dark gray / brown-grey.


The house mouse is one of the most dangerous types of mice. As a vegetarian, the house mouse prefers grain, in whole grains, because of their higher energy content, as they can hold them with their front paws.

In contrast to rats, the house mouse does not live in packs but individually or in a family group. House mice are curious animals that try a lot and gnaw at almost everything without the intention of eating.

Due to the high reproduction rate and the short generation time, resistance to mouse poison/rodenticides occurs more frequently and more quickly in house mice. The house mouse uses any hay or paper-like material as a nesting material, lined with wool and body hair.

  • With an ideal food supply, house mice can reproduce all year round.
  • The gestation period for house mice is around three weeks.
  • The females give birth to 4 to 16 young per litter. Therefore, there are 7 to 8 litres per year.
  • There are around 8 to 12 weeks between birth and sexual maturity.

Way of life

The habitat of the house mouse in Central Europe is near humans. Unlike the shrew or wood mouse, the house mouse prefers to live in houses, as well as farms, supermarkets or food shops.

House mice infest all buildings that offer them shelter and food, with only the amount of food affecting the number of mice. A water source is unnecessary for the house mouse, as the water contained in food is usually sufficient for the house mouse. Therefore, the house mouse tries to put the shelter as close as possible to the food source.

The range of action of house mice increases if there is either no shelter near the food source or if this is already occupied by other house mice. Usually, the house mouse’s radius of action is only a few meters. Thus, those who eat can pay little attention to their surroundings, and those who have enemies will prefer to eat in protected places.

  • House mice live on the ground and often climb.
  • Omnivorous prefer cereals.
  • 3g food intake/day.
  • Excellent sense of smell and touch.
  • Can already squeeze through holes as thick as a pencil (6-7 mm).


Field mouse

Microtus arvalis )

Field Mouse


  • Field mice reach a size of 12 to 18 cm. The tail length is about 1/3 of the body length.
  • Field mice weigh between 20 and 55 g.
  • Field mice are coloured dark brown, red-brown, light brown or grey-brown. The flanks and the belly are a little more golden.
  • Their compact, plump build is striking.


  • The mating season of field mice is between February and October.
  • The females give birth to approx—3 to 8 young per litter. There are 10 to 15 litters per year.
  • The gestation period for field mice is around three weeks.
  • There are around two weeks between birth and sexual maturity.

Way of life

  • Field mice prefer open, not too humid grass and cultivated land (fields, meadows, pastures and orchards) as their habitat. There they live in corridors close to the surface of the earth.
  • They gnaw fruit tree bark, eat young plants and destroy the turf.
  • Field mice are daily in summer and predominantly nocturnal in winter.


Bank voles

Clethrionomys glareolus )

Bank voles


  • Bank voles are between 80 and 120 mm long. The tail length is 35 to 60 mm.
  • Their weight is 15 to 40 g.
  • Bank voles have a red-brown fur on their backs. The young offspring are grey-brown. The peritoneum is whitish to beige.
  • Bank voles have small eyes and ears and a blunt nose.


  • The mating season of bank voles is between March and October.
  • After a gestation period of 18 to 20 days, an average of 4 young is born.
  • The boys are independent after about four weeks.
  • Bank voles can live up to 18 months.

Way of life

  • Bank voles are native to all of America.
  • They prefer shady and moist habitats in forest areas but can also be found in pastures and hedges. There they create underground passages a few centimetres below the surface.
  • They are diurnal and nocturnal.


Wood mouse

Apodemus sylvaticus )

Wood Mouse



The appearance of the wood mouse is characterised by its small body size and relatively large eyes and ears. The wood mouse reaches a length of 17-19 cm, of which about 10 centimetres fall on the body and 8 cm on the tail. The soft fur has a brown-grey colour; the underside of the fur is grey-white. The tail is barely hairy and has an average of about 150 scale rings.

The habitat of the wood mouse is mainly in Europe, except the colder regions in Scandinavia. Unlike the shrew, the wood mouse prefers light forests and above all forest edges and slopes. However, the wood mouse also lives in agricultural areas, in parks, gardens and buildings. The latter is especially true in the colder months of spring, autumn and winter when the wood mouse penetrates human buildings like the house mouse.

  • Size: 17 to 19 cm.
  • Colour: brown-grey.


The wood mouse usually builds its caves at a depth of about half a meter. There are two entrances and exits in the forest mouse’s building, a nest for the offspring and a storage area. The nest is mainly padded with straw, leaves and soft moss from the site. As an excellent climber, it also happens that the wood mouse populates caves in trees or nesting boxes for birds. The territory of a wood mouse usually covers a radius of up to 100 meters.

  • The mating seasons of wood mice are in March and April, as well as October and November.
  • At the beginning of the mating season, aggressive males often attack other adults and can drive the young out of the nest.
  • The wearing time is about 25 days.
  • After six days, the first fur grows, the eyes open after 16 days, and after 18 days, they are weaned.
  • The average lifespan of wood mice is 2 to 3 months but can reach 20 months in nature and two years or more in captivity.

Way of life

The wood mouse is a loner, crepuscular and nocturnal. However, she is very agile and a good runner, climber and jumper. Like many other species of mice, the wood mouse stays close to the ground and jumps or hops away with giant leaps when threatened. The escape reaction is very reminiscent of a kangaroo. The wood mouse jumps up to a meter, which has earned it the colloquial name “jumping mouse”.

The wood mouse does not hibernate but instead pushes into human buildings in the cold season and infects supplies such as flour, grain or fruit stocks there. That is why the wood mouse is classified as a pest, but this is only the case with mass reproduction.

  • Wood mice feed primarily on tree seeds from oak, beech, ash, linden, hawthorn and plane tree.
  • Tiny snails and insects serve as food sources in late spring and early summer when seeds are scarce, and insects and larvae have multiplied enormously.
  • Wood mice are crepuscular and nocturnal.


Meadow vole

Microtus pennsylvanicus )

meadow vole


  • Meadow voles are small rodents with short legs and short tails.
  • When fully grown, they reach a size of approx. 16 cm.
  • Their fur is chestnut brown and turns greyish in winter.
  • The front feet of the meadow voles have four toes, the hind legs five.
  • They have a round nose.


  • The mating season of meadow voles extends over the whole year.
  • The females throw up to 5 times a year.
  • Each litter contains about five young.
  • Meadow voles live for about a year in the wild. After that, they can get older in captivity.

Way of life

  • Meadow voles occur all year round. In summer they can be seen mostly at night, in winter more during the day.
  • They feed on grasses and seeds and often also on tree bark in winter.
  • As a place to stay, meadow voles prefer open fields and moist meadows with high vegetation.
  • They live in underground structures.
  • They build their nests out of the grass; in winter, their nests are above ground and often snow.