How long do mice live?
If you think you can avoid dealing with that mouse in your home by simply waiting for it to die, think again. The life cycle of a mouse makes it easy to see why these rodents are such common pests. It’s not that the mouse lifespan is unnaturally long, but more that mice are notorious breeders. Just one female mouse in your home can average between 25 and 60 offspring in a single year. At that point, you no longer have a mouse problem – you have a mouse infestation.
When a female mouse gets pregnant, it only takes between 19 and 21 days for her to give birth to a litter. Each litter typically consists of five or six mouse pups, though it’s not rare to see as many as 12 in a litter.
A typical female mouse can birth between five and 10 litters per year. She can mate immediately after giving birth, meaning mice can birth a second litter in as little as 25 days after the first. This cycle continues until the mouse dies. By that time, her offspring’s offspring have likely also birthed a few litters, which are starting to breed.
A mouse is born
The pups are born without fur, ears or the ability to see. Because they’re blind and defenseless, the mother mouse nurses her pups for 21 days. These early days in the life cycle of a mouse are filled with rapid progress. On the fourth day, their ears are fully developed. Hair begins to grow around the sixth day, and by day 10, they have a protective coat of fur.
The pups still won’t open their eyes until around day 13 or 14, but after that, they are almost fully-grown adults. On the twenty-first day, weaning occurs. Most male pups will leave their mother’s territory, but many young females stick around for a while. Regardless, for both sexes, nursing is over and they’re ready to start chewing through your food and possessions.
How long do mice live?
At 6 weeks old, the female house mouse is sexually mature and ready to start producing pups of her own. This quick maturation process gives mice immense breeding capabilities. Living indoors enhances these capabilities, since they can then breed all year long. Outdoors, breeding only occurs during spring, summer and fall. The winter months are too harsh for successful breeding.
And just like the breeding output increases if a mouse takes refuge in your home, so does the length of their life. While the average mouse lifespan is only about 12 months outdoors, indoors, this number can climb to 2 to 3 years. This is because indoors, mice aren’t exposed to harsh environments or natural predators. That leaves them with nothing to do but eat through your valuables, spread disease to your family and breed future generations to carry on the scourge.
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