Why Do Mice Squeak?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: October 15, 2022
© iStock.com/Flore Sakowski
Share this post on:

Depending on whether you keep one as a pet or have an infestation of them, the sound of a mouse squeaking is going to be cute or very annoying. Why do mice squeak? Numerous reasons exist for mice to squeak, and we will explore them. Although it may sound like mindless noisemaking, the truth is that mice have a sort of language used to communicate with each other – including many sounds that humans are unable to hear.

With that in mind, we’ll tell you why mice squeak and why humans don’t even notice most of the sounds that mice make on an average day.  

Humans Can’t Hear All Mouse Squeaks

Humans can’t hear many types of mouse squeaks.

©Paulpixs/Shutterstock.com

The amount of squeaking that we hear from mice is just part of the story. Many of their communications are ultrasonic vocalizations, meaning they are so high-pitched that they cannot be heard by human ears. If we could hear all the squeaking that mice do, we would notice that they sometimes sing!

Mice issue multisyllabic songs when they are trying to communicate with others. What are they trying to talk or sing about? A lot of the time, male mice sing about female mice. Still, let’s take a closer look at mice squeaks and the meaning behind them.

Why Do Mice Squeak?

A family of house mice eating spilled cereal off the floor
Mice make a lot of noise when they find food.

©Landshark1/Shutterstock.com

Mice squeak when they’re arguing, when they’ve found food, when there is danger, when they’re in pain, and when they’re mating.  Some of the reasons are lifesaving, and others are an attempt at making a new life. Before we look at the reasons that mice squeak, it’s important to understand that mice may live alone in the outdoors, but they live together in homes and other buildings.

That means they need to squeak to talk with other members of their groups, especially when it comes to reinforcing their social order.  With that in mind, we’ll cover some of the most important reasons that mice can squeak to one another.

1. Letting Another Mouse Know Who Is Boss

People that have ever housed combative pet mice know that mice can produce a fearsome volume and number of squeaks when they’re not getting along. When mice live together, they enforce a rigid hierarchy.

In fact, mice have a certain type of squeak that they use when fighting against other mice. The goal is to show aggression verbally without having to back it up with actual fighting.

2. Communicating the Location of Food and Water

Mice are always on the lookout for sources of food and water. To be fair, food is the more important item to mice because they get a lot of their water from the food that they eat. When mice find shareable food, they will let others in their group know.

This type of squeaking is one of those that are common to human beings. When they find food in your cabinets, that’s the type of squeaking you’ll hear.

3. Warn Others of Danger

Although it may seem counterintuitive to make a lot of noise to point out danger, it’s one of the reasons that mice squeak at each other. They use their squeaks to alert others to the presence of predators in the area. They’ll also call out when an outsider mouse is approaching their area.

For example, if an outsider female mouse approaches a nest, a female in the nest may have an adverse reaction expressed via calls. This communication can be a warning to nearby mice to come and help while also serving to drive off the intruder. Mice will also warn others when they’re in pain so they can get help or warn others to stay away.

Rodents using complex vocalizations to warn others in their family of danger is nothing new. Prairie dogs are famously communicative with other members of their “towns.” Their calls are more complex, capable of describing the danger precisely to other prairie dogs.

4. Mating Calls

When most people think of animals that use mating calls, they imagine birds. However, mice also use their ultrasonic vocalizations as a way to attract female mice. Both males and female mice have specific preferences for the calls and responses they get from one another.

Male mice will also squeak in the presence of female urine. The presence of the urine makes males begin their mating calls hoping to attract a female. You may also hear this type of noise if you have a large infestation.

What Other Noises Do Mice Make?

Mouse feet have tiny claws on them that make a lot of noise.

©ChristinLola/Shutterstock.com

While many people associate squeaking with mice, the truth is that they make other noises too. For example, many people realize they have a mouse infestation due to the scratching and scurrying noises that mice make.

Whether they are climbing up the interior of walls or scrounging up a meal, the nails on a mouse’s feet make a lot of noise. These noises are often combined with squeaks around dusk and dawn when mice are most active.

When an infestation is bad enough, homeowners will hear frequent movement and squeaks as the crowd of mice communicate with each other.

Other Ways that Mice Mark Their Territory

Mouse Poop vs Rat Poop - Rat Poop
Mice will leave behind a great deal of urine to mark their territory.

©Photo – TMD/Shutterstock.com

Mice don’t just use their squeaking to let others know they are in their territory. Unfortunately, mice also like to utilize urine in their attempts to mark their territory. That often means that one of the first signs people have of a mouse infestation is the smell.

Yet, there is a benefit to mice using urine to mark their areas. It gives humans a direct way to start fighting their infestation. You can put down traps or poisoned bait to catch mice in areas you know they frequent.

With such an easy way to target mice, it’s almost like you have an advantage against them. If they didn’t disperse their urine so freely, it would be a little harder to find them.

So, why do mice squeak? We’ve given you four different reasons that the little creatures make so much noise. You probably won’t be able to distinguish the reasons that a mouse is squeaking just by hearing it. Still, you’ll have a good idea that a fight is about to break out, someone found food, or a male mouse just found a female’s urine.  


The Featured Image

Mouse by Bed
© iStock.com/Flore Sakowski

Share this post on:
About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.