You've likely heard since childhood, and perhaps even learned a nursery rhyme about it, that mice are blind. But are mice blind?
The truth? Mice are only completely blind for a short time after birth. And that's hardly the most surprising fact about the mouse's perceptual abilities. Read on to learn more.
How Effective is a Mouse's Eyesight?
All mice are born with their eyes closed, which is common among many mammals. When young mice (also called pups or pinkies) are 13 to 14 days old, their eyes begin to open. After about three weeks, young mice leave to build nests and families of their own.
Despite being color-blind and only being able to actually focus on objects that are 1 to 2 feet away, mice can detect motion up to 45 feet away.
How Do Mice Get Around?
Though mice don't have good eyesight, they have excellent hearing and can detect sounds too shrill for humans to hear, helping them elude predators. Scientists have even discovered that male mice communicate with potential mates using ultrasonic pitches that resemble bird or whale song. This is one reason why ultrasonic versions of pest control aren’t effective.
Mice are also equipped with strong senses of smell and taste. When looking for food, their noses definitely lead the way.
According to research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, as nocturnal creatures with poor eyesight, mice cannot see very well in the dark. When scurrying about, mice tend to run along the sides of walls and other objects and use their whiskers (vibrissae) for guidance. This behavior is known as "whisking." According to that same research, cutting off a mouse's whiskers could have a debilitating effect and greatly harm its chances of survival.
If you’re having trouble with mice, remember that they’re creatures of habit. They come out every night to forage for food but usually don’t stray beyond their home territory — an area within a 15 to 30-foot radius around their nest.
Whiskers are thought to be used by mice to guide movement as they locate and recognize objects in a space. Walls, floorboards and other fixed objects may over time develop a smear, called a rub mark, which is one way to identify a mouse travel path. Even if you don't hear scratching and squeaking behind your walls, you may see these streaks.
If you suspect you have mice in your home, we recommend contacting a pest control professional to come and inspect. DIY mouse trapping can potentially cause harm if done incorrectly. A pest control professional is trained to properly place and bait the traps. Don’t hesitate to contact Terminix®. Our trained technicians are here to help you find the right solution to all your pest control needs.