UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information

I have some questions for my Science project:

1. What are the basics in mice vision? Color? Range?
2. What is the average life cycle of a domesticated mouse?
3. How many mice are born in one litter?
4. What are the basic care instructions for mice new born?
5. What do mice eat in the wild vs. what we feed them as pets?
Thank you so much for your time!

Answer 1:

1. Mice have very restricted vision, and like most mammals, are color-blind. They only have two channels for perceiving color information (dichromate), as compared to most humans who have three (trichromate). Their vision is similar to red/green color blindness in humans. Color for mice seems to be less important than brightness is. Additionally, mice vision is very blurry, the equivalent of about 20/2000 human vision.

2. The house mouse has a lifespan of about two to three years, although the world record for a genetically engineered mouse was almost 5 years. Females reach maturity at about six weeks after birth, and males at eight weeks. Both can begin copulation as early as five weeks.

3. Mouse give birth to a litter of 3 – 14 (average 6 – 8), and one female can have 5 – 10 litters per year.

4. The general care instructions are to leave the mother mouse and her litter be, as any disturbance can cause her to be agitated and abandon the babies. Provide the usual food and water, and (ideally before birth) give the mother some toilet paper or tissue to help her build a nest. Avoid handling the babies or interference of any major sort for at least two to three weeks.

5. In the wild, mice are primarily herbivores, consuming any kind of fruit or grains from plants. Some mice have adapted to urban areas and will eat discarded food scraps. As pets, mice are typically fed a commercial pelleted mouse diet that generally consists of the necessary grains, fruits, and vegetables. The pellets are crunchy to help maintain the mouse’s teeth.

Answer 2:

1. Humans have three types of cells in our eyes, which absorb blue, green, and red light. Mice, on the other hand, only have two types. So, mice are color-blind, similar to how some humans (mostly males) can be color-blind. More studies are being done with mice vision and how it can relate to humans.

2. Male and female mice start their mating with calls that attract one another. A gestation period of about 19-21 days is followed by mating. So, a human baby is growing for 9 months whereas a baby mouse is growing for about 19-21. This means that many mice can be born within a year. On average, mice live for 1 1/2-2 years, but some can live up to 3 years.

3. Usually about 5-10 mice are born in a litter. Reproduction happens all year long for mice, except those in the wild because they usually hibernate during the colder weather periods.

4. Pet mice are selectively bred, which enhances their qualities to be better pets. As you can tell some wild mice may not be as nice as your pet mouse. The first things for new born mice is to make sure they are in a warm, safe, and comfortable environment where they are not bothered by other pets in the house and are cuddled up. Feed the mice a heavily diluted baby's milk formula. Do not give them cow's milk because it is too harsh and they can suffer digestion problems which can lead to their deaths. You can use q-tips dipped in warm water to clean the mice and progress digestion. When the babies start to open their eyes, you might give them crumbled crackers and more solid foods to get them used to what they will be eating when they are older. And don't forget to play with them!

5. It is important to feed mice a healthy and balanced diet. Pellets or any mouse food mix available at the pet store is good. You can also add some grains and seeds. Since it is very important that the mice is properly nourished (some can be picky eaters), you can supplement their pellet diet with things like, fresh fruits and vegetables, lettuce, sunflower seeds, and whole grain pastas. Make sure you never feed the mouse chocolate because it is toxic and can be fatal. Also, every mouse is different so you should see what the mouse likes and what causes the mouse problems (diarrhea, etc). As you can see a lot of these "supplementary" foods are ones that can be found in the wild, and these are the foods herbivorous wild mice eat. Some wild mice can be omnivorous and will eat insects, snails, and centipedes in addition to their veggies.

Answer 3:

Mice see two-color vision, like dogs (or "color-blind" humans). This means that they can tell blue from yellow, but can't tell green or yellow apart, and red looks black to them. The range of mouse vision is about focusing the lenses in their eyes; they can see light from any distance, but I don't know how nearsighted they are, so it may be blurry.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2015 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use