The New Student's Reference Work/Mouse

Mouse, a small gnawing animal closely related to the rat. The common house-mouse originally was an inhabitant of Asia. “From there they have accompanied man in his wanderings to all parts of the world, traveling as he has traveled in ox-teams and on the backs of donkeys, by steamship and railway; taking up their quarters wherever he does, first in log-cabins with thatched roofs and finally, in some instances, on the nineteenth floor of a steel-building where generation after generation may live and die in turn without so much as having set foot to the earth.” They breed at all times and seasons, multiply with great rapidity, have to be treated as a pest. In almost all houses of any age mice live, between plaster and wainscoting have their residence, their runways as a rule leading throughout the house. Besides the house-mice there are various kinds of field and meadow mice. The harvest-mouse of Europe is very small, being between two and one half and three inches long. It lives among grasses and in cornfields, where it builds a globular nest about the size of a cricket-ball, in which its young are reared. The American field-mouse differs from the house-mouse in having a blunt nose, short limbs and tail. When abundant they are great pests to farmers. In 1890 the wheat crop in South Australia was almost completely ruined by field-mice. Our country wide the field mouse ranges, feeds on roots, grasses and grain, does much harm in fields of Indian corn, in severe weather harms young fruit trees by stripping their bark close to the ground. For their young a simple burrow is dug, with nest at the bottom. Among their enemies are hawks, owls, crows, foxes, cats and weasels. The American harvest-mouse belongs to the south. The rice-field mouse also is a southern animal; aquatic in its habits, it abounds on the banks of rice-fields and in coast-marshes. Widely distributed in this country, especially common in the west, is the interesting white-footed mouse, deer-mouse, or wood-mouse. It is fawn above, below white or light gray, its black eyes are large and very brilliant, its feet are snow-white. Pure white mice are albinos or sports. Their white offspring, and other “fancy mice”—black and white, yellow, black, brown, mauve and blue — are prized as pets; many become very tame and take readily to training. The following food is recommended for them: raw oatmeal in winter and a little on cool days in summer; bread, bird-seed or cooked potatoes; some salt. The cages should be kept scrupulously clean. Bits of tissue paper or newspaper make suitable nests. See Stone and Cram: American Animals.