House mouse

Originally native to Central Asia, the house mouse was probably introduced to Australia from Europe by early settlers. Today, it is found throughout Australia and in other countries around the world.

The house mouse is considered a pest because it eats a wide range of foodstuffs, reproduces rapidly, and gnaws on non-food items, including insulation and other building materials. When seasonal conditions are favourable, mouse numbers can increase to a level where they become a serious pest, causing damage to crops, stored products and equipment.

The house mouse is not a prohibited or restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014.

Scientific name

Mus domesticus

Description

  • Small, omnivorous rodent with body around 75mm long, tail of similar length, weight up to 30g.
  • Pelt is short brown, grey or black hair on back, and white, pale yellow, or grey underneath.
  • Notched upper incisors distinguish house mice from other mouse species.

Habitat

  • Present in agricultural areas around long grass and crops.
  • May be found in and around sheds and homes.

Distribution in Queensland

  • Found throughout Queensland.

Life cycle

  • Field breeding occurs mostly in spring and early summer, however breeding can occur at any time.
  • Females can produce litter each month during breeding season.
  • Litters consist of up to 6 pups.
  • Gestation lasts 19-20 days.
  • First breeding commences from 5 weeks.

Crops affected

  • Vegetable crops, sunflowers.

Impacts

Economic

  • Causes serious damage to crops and pastures during plagues.

Social

  • Can transmit salmonella (which causes food poisoning) to human foodstuffs.

Control

  • Most effective approach is to integrate land management practices with a combination of different control methods (e.g. chemical, baiting, trapping, barrier fencing, habitat modification, ultrasonic devices, repellents and biological control).
  • In grain production areas, make facilities rodent-proof, modify habitats and practise good farm hygiene to help prevent mouse numbers increasing.
  • If mouse activity is seen, monitor growing crops and use early in-crop baiting.
  • Use baits containing rodenticides in accordance with label instructions or permits issued by Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
  • Many rodenticides are approved for use only around buildings, grain storage areas and animal housing. A limited number of rodenticides can be used in grain, legume, canola, safflower, nut, sugar cane, macadamia, pineapple and sweet potato crops, pasture, and banana plantations. There are strict label instructions or permit conditions on how rodenticides can be used in these situations to minimise risks of food product contamination and adverse environmental impacts.

Legal requirements

  • The house mouse is not a prohibited or restricted invasive animal under the Biosecurity Act 2014. However, by law, everyone has a general biosecurity obligation (GBO) to take reasonable and practical steps to minimise the risks associated with invasive plants and animals under their control.
  • Local governments must have a biosecurity plan that covers invasive plants and animals in their area. This plan may include actions to be taken on certain species. Some of these actions may be required under local laws. Contact your local government for more information.
Last updated
19 July 2016

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