Mice are small rodents renowned for their ability to get into places they shouldn’t — whether it’s a kitchen, a garage, or a shed. Although mice nowadays are popular pets, the house mouse is one of the most common species that is widely regarded as a pest because of its tendency to invade homes in search of food and shelter. However, mice have a high breeding rate and are social animals, so where there’s one, there’s always likely to be more. But have you ever pondered the question, “What is a group of mice called?”
Mice rarely live alone, so let’s find out what a group of mice is called. We’ll also take a closer look at their social hierarchy. Plus, we’ll discover how many mice live in a group, how they communicate, and how often they reproduce.
A Mischief of Mice?
A group of mice is commonly called a mischief or a nest!
That’s right, a group of mice can be called either a mischief or a nest. Both are fitting names, but especially mischief as mice often get into places that they shouldn’t in homes and sheds. They can chew electrical wires, damage furnishings, chew holes in wood, and just generally cause trouble.
As you might expect, mice cause more mischief when there is more than one. Therefore, it’s not surprising that it is only when there is more than one mouse that it is called a “mischief of mice” or a “nest of mice”. That said, although nest is the other common name that can be used for a group of mice, this word is more commonly associated with a group that are in a family cluster — such as a female with infants. In this instance, the “nest of mice” are literally in the nest they have made to raise and care for their young!
How Many Mice in a Group?
Mice are extremely social animals and thrive when they are in the company of their own kind. Occasionally, you may find a mouse outdoors on its own. However, this is a very rare occurrence as they typically live in close knit family groups.
Most mice live in family groups of around five individuals, and a strict social hierarchy is in place. These groups typically consist of a dominant male with several females and their resulting offspring. Younger males can live in the same family group until their reach maturity at around four to seven weeks old. At this point, they will leave to find their own females to form a group with. As they begin to mature, fights and skirmishes will often break out between the males. This is because they begin to fight for dominance and territory. In some cases, it’s not uncommon for fights to the death to occur.
How Many Babies Do Mice Have?
Although it’s common to have between two and five mice in a group, this number can quickly rise when there are babies involved. Baby mice are commonly called pups. Females can give birth to up to 12 pups per litter after a gestation period of 19 to 21 days. Not only that, but they can give birth to anything between five and 10 litters per year — that’s a lot of babies!
The pups are born hairless, blind, and deaf and are entirely reliant on their mother for the first few weeks of their life. Their ears open after around four days, and their hair develops by the tenth day. Their eyes do not open until they are two weeks old. The female continues to nurse them until they are three weeks old. After three weeks, the pups are completely weaned. However, they are not considered to be fully mature until they are eight weeks old.
Mice can make their nests in a few places. If they’re outside, they commonly nest in thick undergrowth, such as underneath a bush or in tall grass. However, if they’re indoors then mice will nest in an enclosed space that is warm and dark so that they feel safe. Mice will use any material that is available to construct their nest, and this can include grass, leaves, and twigs. Although, when they’re inside, they will frequently use a material that can easily be shredded. This can be things such as paper, fabric, and even the material from pillows and mattresses.
How Do Mice Communicate?
As we mentioned earlier, mice are incredibly social animals and thrive when living in a group. They communicate with each other all the time for a variety of reasons. These include attracting a mate, communicating with their offspring, warning of danger, marking their territory, and as a sign of aggression. Communication can be through a series of squeaks and chirps, their scent, and body language. Scent — particularly through urination — is especially important for marking the territory and attracting a mate. Researchers find mice have communication codes for specific needs. However, the movement of the tail — such as banging it on the ground — is most often used to signal a readiness for a fight. Either way, communication is essential for a mischief of mice!
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Standa Riha/Shutterstock.com
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