Can mice smell food?



Representatives of the mouse genus "Mus" reach a body length of 5 to 12 centimeters. Then there is the three to eleven centimeters long tail. The animals weigh between 5 and 35 grams, but a well-fed laboratory or colored mouse can weigh up to 60 grams.

The African harvest mouse (Mus minutoides) is the lightweight of the genus "Mus". It weighs 5 grams at a height of 5 centimeters, which is twice as heavy as the even smaller "Etruscan shrew". This weighs just 2.5 grams, but is not a "real or old world mouse" but is a systematic family member of the shrews in the insectivore order (like the mole). The only representative of its own genus of dwarf mice within the subfamily of "real mice" is also quite small. The Eurasian harvest mouse (Micromys minutus) is 5 to 7 centimeters tall. The tail length is about 7 centimeters. This tiny thing weighs about 7 grams.

Through breeding in particular, there is a whole range of coat colors. In the wild, the fur on the top is usually gray or brown, the underside is lighter and can be gray, brown or white. Even if the tail looks hairless at first glance, it is covered with fine hairs and it has easily visible scale rings.


Mice originally come from Africa, southern Europe and parts of South and Southeast Asia. The species known today as the house mouse (Mus musculus) originally came from India and only later came to Central Europe. Excavations show that house mice lived near humans as early as the Neolithic Age and made their homes there.

The human closeness provided the small rodents with a lot of "ride opportunities" so that they could spread over the whole globe. They also reached America and Australia by ship.

Traditional habitats are forests and savannahs. But you can also encounter them in the alpine mountains. The house mouse and the African harvest mouse have established themselves near human settlements - also in the home.

Mice prefer solid ground under their feet, but they can swim. Experiments were made with mice as early as the middle of the 17th century. Today, laboratory mice are a popular object for behavioral research and for studying diseases such as cancer.

Way of life

Real or old world mice (Murinae) do not hibernate, but can shut down their bodily functions to such an extent that they fall into a kind of freezing state in order to save energy. This is always the case when the food supply is scarce. The wild species, such as the native wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), are usually nocturnal, while the species in close proximity to humans are on the move both during the day and at night.

Mice are mostly vegetarians. But there are also species that do not disdain insects and other small animals. It is easiest for house mice, which eat everything that humans carelessly leave around.

Mice originally came out of the dark, lived in cracks and crevices in the rock. This is why their sense of smell is very well developed and body odor is an important means of communication. But ultrasonic tones that are inaudible to humans are also part of the repertoire.


In principle, mice eat everything. Vegetable food is preferred, but insects are also on the menu. Wood mice even attack small birds and worms. Even the bark of young trees is not spurned in an emergency.

If there is an abundance of food, mice store supplies for bad times, for example for the winter months. Contrary to popular belief, however, mice are not particularly fond of cheese. You have to lure them into the trap with aromatic sweets or bacon. Mice kept as pets are usually given dry food.


As long as there are no food shortages, mice are very fertile. Female mice can give birth six to eight times a year. If, for example, a pair of mice starts to reproduce in February / March, there can be 1200 animals by the end of the year that result from the offspring and their offspring.

It is interesting that the young mice are sexually mature at the age of ten to twelve weeks. The female mice are pregnant for around three weeks and the litter can be up to eight young. With a life expectancy of one to two years, it is necessary to preserve the species with large offspring.

At birth, the cubs are naked, blind and deaf and weigh less than a gram. A week and a half later, a fine hair fluff forms. They only open their eyes after around 15 days and after three weeks they no longer need breast milk. By then they had already increased their weight to six grams.


Mice have many enemies. In the vicinity of humans there are cats, but also rats and stone martens. Barn owls hunt not only in the wild, but also in buildings. They like to lurk in barns for a bite to eat.

In the wild, many other birds of prey are after the mice. With the help of ultraviolet rays, they can even detect telltale traces of urine left by mice on their paths and thus involuntarily indicate their whereabouts. Foxes, weasels, martens and hedgehogs are also hot on the heels of the little rodents.