Can Mice Swim?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: August 6, 2022
Image Credit PPK_studio/Shutterstock.com
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Mice are interesting mammals that have many surprising capabilities when it comes to travel. They can climb walls and easily get upstairs in your home, and they can scamper around so fast that many people barely notice them. However, that doesn’t mean that they can do everything that other rodents and mammals can do. That’s why we have to ask the question, can mice swim?

We’ll examine this question and show you whether they can take a successful dive in the water and even if you should consider allowing a pet mouse to swim.

Can Mice Swim?

rat swimming
Mice can swim.

PPK_studio/Shutterstock.com

Mice are very adept swimmers that are capable of crossing waterways and treading water for hours or days at a time. Their bodies are light and have relatively thick fur, so they can survive swimming in less-than-ideal conditions. However, the fact that mice can swim does not mean that they enjoy swimming.

The average mouse does not like to swim, and they certainly do not like to be submerged in water. They swim when they need to get from one area to another. That might be so they can obtain food or get away from a predator. Mice can hold their breath for 3 minutes and they’re believed to be capable of swimming over half a mile.

Still, mice have their limits. They can’t swim across waters with a strong current because they simply aren’t powerful enough. Speaking of strength, not all mice are built the same. Very young and old mice have difficulty swimming the way that adolescent and adult mice do.

These creatures also demonstrate an interesting and scientifically significant approach to swimming. Mice do not like being in situations where they know they cannot escape. That’s why the forced swim test is such an effective way to induce despair in mice so they can be used for pharmaceutical testing.

All in all, mice can swim, but they certainly seem to prefer the comfort and safety that comes from being on dry land.

Should I Make My Pet Mouse Swim?

Baby pet Mouse - Baby Mice
Your pet mouse can probably swim, but it’s not worth the stress for them.

RICHARD-ASQUITH/Shutterstock.com

Even though mice can swim, it may not be a good idea to let your pet mouse swim. Several potential issues exist with having pet mice swim. For starters, if your mouse is not used to a great deal of hardship and stress, then you could completely frighten it by putting it in water for the first time. That’s not something that most pet owners want to do to their furry companion.

Another consideration is that you have to understand the impact that water has on the mouse’s body temperature. Mice are very tiny creatures. If you put such an animal in water that does not have its temperature controlled to be warm, the mouse’s body temperature could drop significantly. Again, this causes undue stress and potential harm to the mouse.

Lastly, while mice are good swimmers, they can still run out of energy and drown. If you don’t supervise your pet mouse or you allow it to go into water that is too cold or deep, you could seriously injure or kill your pet. The bottom line is that forcing your pet mouse to swim is probably not the best idea.  

Where Will I Find Mice Swimming?

Mouse
You’re far more likely to see mice swimming in a lake than in a pool.

Rudmer Zwerver/Shutterstock.com

Mice tend to spend a lot of their lives close to humans and their homes. Thus, it’s only natural for people to wonder if they are likely to find mice swimming in some of their structures and fixtures. Take a look at some of the human structures that mice are often found near or in.

Pools

You can certainly find mice in a large pool. They might climb into the water for a drink or think that they have to cross the water. The downside is that mice often die in pools because they can’t get out of them. The tall, sheer inside walls of the pool don’t lend themselves to easy climbing for a mouse.

Although mice can climb a wide variety of materials, they are not very good at climbing smooth plastic or smooth metal. You may see an odd mouse in a kiddie pool that is left filled with water and uncovered. It’s easier for mice to get out of those pools, but they can still get stuck in them, too.  

Bathtubs

Mice try to avoid water even when they’re thirsty. They get most of their water from the food they eat. As a result, they’re not likely to jump in the bathtub with you, but they can seek out water that hasn’t drained on the bottom.

Unfortunately, mice will probably not be able to get out of your tub without some serious luck or your help. That might put you in close proximity to a mouse, and you’ll probably hear them skittering about before you see them.

Bird Baths

Of course, the only problem with mice entering a bird bath is that it puts them on a pedestal that is designed for birds. Avian creatures are some of the biggest predators of mice in the world. Thus, they may be a little hesitant to climb into a place where a hawk can find them so easily.

Sinks

Mice could be seen in a sink, especially in a commercial setting. If they are already in your kitchen looking for food, they could eat anything that wasn’t washed down the drain. They’re not likely to jump into a hot sink that is full of water.

If you have a large, deep metal sink, then you might find a mouse trapped in the bottom. Remember, mice can’t climb surfaces without anything to grip! Still, you’re most likely to see mice under a sink than in one.

The bottom line is that mice are more likely to stay away from human water structures unless they are desperate for water. That can happen if they’ve been poisoned and feel excessively thirsty. Otherwise, you’re more likely to find mice swimming in ponds, lakes, or streams with a minimal current.

So, can mice swim? Yes, and they are very good at it. Does that mean you’re going to encounter mice in water very often? Probably not. They do not like the water, and they want to spend as little time in it as possible.  

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About the Author

I am a freelancer specializing in SEO content writing. I write in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I've been writing full-time since 2018, so I've been doing remote work before it was cool. When I'm not working, I can be found reading, trying to catch up on my tv show backlog, playing video games, and starting stories that I'll never finish.