Despite their tiny bodies, house mice and wood mice can bring diseases and cause structural damages to any property they invade. Although they have a lot of similarities, it’s important to tell these two species of mice apart to figure out the best extermination approach.
So what is the difference between house mice and wood mice? Both species of rodents can invade a home, but it’s more common for house mice to build nests inside residential properties. It’s also easy to tell these two kinds of rodents apart by their appearance – house mice have gray or light brown coats while wood mice have tan or brown fur.
Fall and winter months are a busy time for all mice. During this time of the year when the temperature starts to drop, these tiny pests must seek warmth, shelter, and a stable source of food. In the US alone, around 21 million American homes experience rodent infestations every year during cold months.
Two of the most common rodents that invade these properties are wood mice and house mice. Although they bring almost the same kind of diseases and destruction, they are different when it comes to appearance, diet, behavior, and habitat. It’s important to tell them apart because these mice will require different extermination techniques.
Mus musculus (or house mouse) is the species of mice that are used to human presence. Some of them have been kept as pets or as laboratory mice. But they are also a common kind of house pest.
Appearance and Behavior
The most distinctive feature that tells a house mouse apart from other species of mice is their uniformly colored coat that comes in brown or grey. An adult house mouse has a body length of around 3-4 in. and a tail length of 1-4 in. House mice usually weigh around 0.5-1 ounce.
These tiny pests have round bodies with large ears and tiny black eyes. Their hind feet are also shorter than the wood mouse’s. Another interesting thing about house mice is that they can jump up to one foot into the air. This helps them reach elevated places in search of food and shelter.
These mice are nocturnal and are easily scared by bright lights. They sleep for around 12.5 hours a day. When they are active at night, they will run, walk, and stand on all four legs. But when they are eating or fighting, they will stand on their hind legs while receiving additional support from the tail.
House mice prefer munching on seeds, nuts, and grains. But these omnivores are opportunistic feeders who will eat anything available to them including insects and meat scraps. When they find a home to invade, they will eat pet food and cereals that are stored in thin cardboard boxes or flimsy plastics.
House mice are typically found in homes and other man-made properties, such as sheds and barns. These places provide them with a stable food source and shelter during the cold months. Some of them also stay in open areas, such as woodlands, grasslands, and fields, but they eventually return to man-made structures during fall and winter.
Lifespan and Gestation
A house mouse can only live up to 9-12 months if it doesn’t get killed during the extermination. One possible reason for the short lifespan of house mice is their exposure to harsh environments and several predators, such as cats, snakes, and more.
Despite their short life, mice infestations are hard to solve because they can reproduce rapidly. A female house mouse can give birth to an average of 10 pups per litter after carrying it for 21 days. These pests breed all-year-round and produce around 5-10 litters per year.
Apodemus sylvaticus (or wood mouse) are highly adaptable creatures that originated from the British Isles and other smaller islands. They eventually reached the US and took refuge in the American woodlands and open fields. While these pests are typically found in grassland and open areas, they still infest houses in rural areas during winter and fall.
Appearance and Behavior
These tiny rodents have sandy brown fur that gradually becomes darker towards the spine. They also have light-colored bellies that are either white or grey. Their bodies are around 3-4 in. long with a tail that’s 2.7-3.7 in. long. Their bodies also weigh around 0.5 to 1 ounce.
Wood mice have protruding eyes. They have larger eyes and longer tails than house mice. These rodents are known to be excellent climbers with the ability to crawl up trees to forage for seeds and fruits. Before taking an unfamiliar item, these cautious mice sniff the food first before approaching.
Unlike house mice that nibble on different things, wood mice prefer storing their food and eating it at the nest. They mostly feed on seeds found in trees, but they are omnivores who will consume snails and insects when necessary.
When they live in the forest, their diet will depend on the season. During spring, they will eat buds of different fruit trees. In summers, they switch to eating insects, such as centipedes, worms, and caterpillars. For autumn, they will forage for blackberries and fungi, while winter is the season for acorns, sycamore, and ash seeds.
Although they are excellent climbers, wood mice prefer digging burrows underground to build a nest there. Their nests include spaces for chambers and food storage. Burrows may be passed from one wood mice generation to the next with minor modifications to fit their current conditions.
Lifespan and Gestation
Like house mice, wood mice also have a short lifespan of 12 months because of the harsh environment and presence of several predators in the wild, such as owls, hawks, weasels, snakes, and foxes.
Wood mice reproduction also depends per season. These rodents will breed rapidly during the summer once a female wood mouse reaches sexual maturity. Each litter may include 4-7 pups that are born hairless and blind. Depending on their food supply, wood mice may choose to skip reproduction during winter.
If you think that a mouse has entered your home, call a professional exterminator immediately to prevent these pesky rodents from wreaking havoc in the house. For a quick and accurate inspection, you can contact Pinnacle Pest Control at (916) 381-5793.
At Pinnacle Pest Control, we know that pest control goes beyond rodent removal, which is why our services also include attic restoration and decontamination services to ensure your family’s complete safety.
Read more: How to Identify Mouse Sounds in Your Home