The house mouse is, unfortunately, the species of mouse everyone thinks of when they hear the word mouse. It is because they live in close association with humans that they are one of the most familiar small mammals to humans. House mice are similar in size to our native deer mouse but they are a solid grayish-brown color above and below. Their tail is also scaly like a Norway rat and not covered with fur like the deer mouse.
House mice are occasionally found in fields, but usually in buildings. They will eat most anything and breed year round having as many as a dozen litters a year of 5-8 young each. Young are able to breed at six weeks. Because this mouse chooses to live near humans, it is considered a pest. This species is the one sought after in trapping and poisoning efforts by humans.
This rat lives both with man, and in the open where vegetation is tall. It makes its home principally in a basement or a burrow under a sidewalk or outbuilding. It appears to be most common around feed stores, chicken houses and garbage dumps.
The Norway Rat is more at home on the ground, but has been seen crossing from one building to another along a telephone wire, so it is an excellent climber. Around poultry houses, the rat feeds extensively on eggs and young chickens. It has even been known to kill lambs and young pigs!
The Norway Rat is a source of food for the spotted skunk, barn owl and house cat, but because the rat is such a prolific breeder, these predators are often unable to keep the rat population in check.
This rat is known to be a reservoir of bubonic plague, endemic typhus fever, rat bite fever, and a few other dreaded diseases. Therefore, buildings and garbage cans should be rat-proofed.