How Do Mice Protect Themselves?

NA/Photos.com/Getty Images

Despite his tiny size and fragile appearance, the mouse has a lot of tricks when it comes time to defending himself. Most of those tricks are for avoidance -- which means protecting himself by either eluding or running away from danger. If that doesn't work, a mouse can be a feisty fighter.

Run and Hide

The mouse might seem like a fast runner, but most of his predators are faster. That's because the house mouse runs at a speed of about 7 miles per hour, while the average domestic cat can run almost 30 miles per hour. However, the mouse has an advantage: it's tiny enough to fit into small holes and cracks on the walls or into and under objects. So all he needs is a little warning, and he'll be able to take off running and crawl somewhere to escape predators. This is a great defense mechanism and one of the most effective ones for the tiny mouse.

Bite and Scratch

When running is not an option, mice might bite and scratch to protect themselves. This is especially effective when fighting against other animals of the same size or when cornered. Mice have tiny, sharp teeth that can do a lot of damage and inflict a lot of pain if necessary.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Some species of mice are masters of disguise. The natural brown or grey coat of a mice is perfectly made to hide among both country nature and city corners. According to an article in Ani News, deer mice living in the Nebraska sandhills were able to mutate to change the colors of their coats from their original grey to a soft brown -- perfect for blending in with the sandy surroundings. The mutation took more than 8,000 years, but it's a good example of how important camouflage is to mice.

Planning an Escape

Mice have excellent hearing and are always in alert, ready to run and hide when necessary. It's that excellent hearing that alerts them to the fact that predators are approaching, so they have a chance to escape. Even better, though -- mice always know their escape routes in advance. According to Northern State University, deer mice, for example, tend to live in a small area, so they learn the geography and terrain very well. Within that territory, they have set up "routes" that they use. These routes usually include some sort of protection or hiding areas, so they're not constantly exposed to predators as they move around.

Photo Credits

  • NA/Photos.com/Getty Images

Author

Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.