Field Mouse vs House Mouse: What’s the Difference?

Written by August Buck
Published: January 30, 2022
Image Credit MainelyPhotos/Shutterstock.com
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Field mice and house mice can appear very similar at first glance. However, there are some key differences separating these two rodents from one another. For example, house mice are from the Muridae family, while field mice are from the Cricetidae family, a very different classification of rodent– though it may not seem like it. 

But what other differences might these two rodents share, and how can you learn to tell the differences between them? In this article, we will compare field mice vs house mice, including how they appear differently as well as how they behave differently. You may want to learn how to tell the difference for the future- let’s get started.

Comparing a Field Mouse vs House Mouse

Field mice are larger than houses mouses, among several key differences.

A-Z-Animals.com

Field MouseHouse Mouse
Size 5-7 inches3-5 inches
Appearance Brown, orange, or gray top coat; white belly and feetAll brown with dark feet; large ears and eyes
Lifespan 2-4 years in the wild1-2 years in the wild
Tail Hairless, two different colors, shorterHairy, longer, one uniform color
Habitat Fields, meadows, wild areasUrban areas and parks, homes and properties
Behavior Climbers and hoarders; shyJumpers and opportunistic eaters

The Main Differences Between Field Mouse vs House Mouse

Field mouse vs house mouse
 A house mouse also has larger ears, eyes, and a longer tail when compared to a field mouse, and field mouse tails don’t have hair.

Rudmer Zwerver/Shutterstock.com

There are key differences between a field mouse vs house mouse. Field mice have a brown or gray coat with a white underbelly, while house mice are always just one single solid color throughout their bodies. A house mouse also has larger ears, eyes, and a longer tail when compared to a field mouse, and field mouse tails don’t have hair. Both field mice and house mice exhibit different behaviors from one another as well, including their preferred habitats.

But this is just the beginning of our discussion regarding their key differences. Let’s dive in and learn more about these rodents and how they differ from one another in more detail.

Field Mouse vs House Mouse: Appearance

House Mouse
House mice have one uniform color.

MainelyPhotos/Shutterstock.com

One key difference between a field mouse vs house mouse can be found in their overall appearance. Field mice consist of two separate colors on their coat, usually a dark brown or gray upper coat with a white underbelly, while house mice are one solid color overall. This is only one of their primary physical differences.

Field mice have significantly smaller ears than house mice do, while house mice have the trademark large mouse ears and large eyes. While it can be difficult to tell this difference unless you are comparing the two creatures side by side, a field mouse’s ears will be much closer to their head, given their overall size. Field mice will also have white or light tan feet to match their underbelly, while house mouse feet will be darker in color.

Field mouse vs house mouse
Field mice are found in less populated areas, such as fields, woodlands, and meadows, while house mice prefer more urban areas such as backyards, parks, and even indoor areas.

Field Mouse vs House Mouse: Habitat

Another key difference between field mice and house mice lies in their preferred habitats. Field mice are found in less populated areas, such as fields, woodlands, and meadows, while house mice prefer more urban areas such as backyards, parks, and even indoor areas. This is likely due to a house mouse’s opportunistic feeding nature, while field mice are more likely to forage for food in the wild- house mice will seek out food from humans frequently.

Field Mouse vs House Mouse: Size

The size difference between a field mouse vs house mouse is another key feature to pay attention to. A field mouse is always larger than a house mouse, though you may not be able to tell this difference right away. A house mouse grows to an average of 3-5 inches, while a field mouse can reach over 7 inches in length.

Field mouse vs house mouse
A house mouse grows to an average of 3-5 inches, while a field mouse can reach over 7 inches in length.

Field Mouse vs House Mouse: Tail

Another crucial difference between field mice and house mice is found in their tails, both length and hair amount. Field mice tails have a darker color atop their tails, with a lighter underbelly; house mice have tails with the same uniform color from top to bottom. This can be an easy way to tell them apart, especially if you notice the amount of hair on the tail as well.

For example, field mice have a completely hairless tail, making their two-toned tails a bit more obvious. House mice have extra long tails that are covered in fine hairs, but you may have to get pretty close to a house mouse in order to find this fact out.

Field mouse vs house mouse
Field mice tails have a darker color atop their tails, with a lighter underbelly; house mice have tails with the same uniform color from top to bottom.

Roger McLassus / Creative Commons

Field Mouse vs House Mouse: Behavior

A final key difference between a field mouse vs house mouse can be found in their overall behavior. House mice are opportunistic eaters, consuming any food that they come across (including the food in your cupboards!), while field mice prefer to hoard their food near their nest or another safe location. This is a significant behavioral difference between these species, though it may not be evident at first.

When it comes to escaping, there is another key difference between field mice and house mice: house mice are efficient jumpers, while field mice are far better at climbing. You may not get to see this behavior firsthand, as either type of rodent will scurry away from you. However, their different athletic abilities have something to do with their individual species.

House Mouse

MainelyPhotos/Shutterstock.com
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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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