Mouse, or Mus, a genus of quadrupeds, comprising sixty species, of which the following are found in Britain, namely l.The sylvaticus, or Long-tailed Field-mouse, the length of which is in general from eight to nine inches, including its tail.—These animals are found in fields, gardens, and shrubberies, where they do incalculable damage ; burrowing under the ground, and digging up grain, acorns, pease, or beans, etc. when newly sown ; which they carry to their subterraneousgranaries. Their habitations may be discovered by the small mounds of earth, that are raised on, or near, the entrance of. their abode ; or by the passages leading to their nests, or storehouses : and, by following the course of such passages, the vermin may be easily destroyed.
Another method of extirpating field-mice, is by traps, consisting simply of a flat stone that is supported by a stick ; and beneath which is placed a roasted walnut. They are speedily attracted by the smell of the walnut, which they prefer to acorns or cheese; and, as it is fixed to the stick, that yields as soon as it is touched, the stone falls upon them, and terminates their existence. But the most effectual mode of destroying these animals, would be to encourage the breed of owls, which is so active in the pursuit of nocturnal vermin.
2. The messorius, Harvest, op Smaller Long-tailed Field-mouse, which is by some considered as a variety of the former species ; and is very small and slender; its whole length, together with the tail, not exceeding 4 1/2 or 5 inches. It chiefly infests the county of. Hants, where it is very numerous, especially during the harvest.— This creature constructs its nest of a circular form, with blades of corn, which it deposits above the surface of the ground between the straws of standing grain, and frequently in thistles, where the female produces from six. to eight young ones at a time.
The harvest-mice never enter houses ; but are often carried into ricks, among sheaves of corn; one hundred having sometimes been found in a single rick, on taking it down to be housed. Those remaining in the field, shelter themselves during the winter beneath the ground, into which they burrow deeply,foming their beds or nests, of decayed grass. They may also be taken by means of the traps above mentioned.
3. The musculus, or Common Mouse, which has a very long, scaly, and almost naked tail ; exclusively of which, it is about three inches and a half in length. This species is uncommonly prolific, producing several times in the year, five or six young at a litter.
There are several varieties of the common mouse, which are chiefly distinguished by their colour, such as black, yellowish, spotted, etc but the most rare and beautiful are white, with red eyes — they are in some degree capable of being tamed, especially by means of music, to which all mice are singularly attached.
The common mouse inhabits all temperate climates, and is chiefly found in houses and in barns, whither it resorts for the sake of food, devouring grain, bread, cheese, butter, oil, etc. It is exceedingly timid, and very nimble; never leaves its abode excepting for food; and retires on the slightest alarm.
These little depredators may be destroyed in houses by the common traps, baited with cheese : in barns, it will be necessary to allure, them by means of singed leather, grease, or other animal food ; and,' in chambers where cheese is preserved, with malt-meal. As, however, all these methods are troublesome ; and, as the exposing of poisonous substances may be attended with danger, we shall communicate a remedy that is both safe and efficacious: Take a few handfuls of wheaten flour, or malt-meal, knead it into a dough, and let it grow sour in a warm place; then mix with it finely levigated iron filings, form the whole into small balls, and put them into the holes frequented by mice. On eating this preparation, they are inevitably killed.
Another way to extirpate them is, by keeping cats, dogs, owls, or hedge-hogs, in the places infested. with mice or rats. But the most effectual method of preventing their devastations in barns, the floors of which they frequently undermine, consists in laying beneath the latter a stratum of flints, fragments of glass mixed with sand, or broken cinders. It has likewise been proposed to construct such floors on piers of brick, raised about 15 or 18 inches above the ground, so that dogs or cats may have a free passage beneath the building.—See also Corn, vol. 11 p. 69; and Mullein.
4. The arvalis, or Meadow-mouse, is from three to six inches in length; dwelling in bushy places, corn-fields, meadows, and gardens, chiefly near waters. It subsists on nuts, acorns, pease, and grain, which last it prefers to every other kind of food, collecting considerable quantities in its subterraneous residence.
As soon as the corn is ripe, the meadow-mice assemble together in corn-fields, where they commit great ravages, by cutting down the stalks of corn with their teeth, and robbing the ears ; nay, they follow the reapers, consume all the fallen or neglected grain, and, when the gleanings are devoured, they flock to the newly sown fields, and destroy the crop of the succeeding year. Being very prolific, the females produce from eight to twelve at a litter, several times in the year. During the winter, they retire to woods, coppices, etc. where they subsist on acorns, hazle-nuts, and the seeds of trees.
In some seasons, the meadow-mice become so numerous, that they would consume every esculent, if they did not destroy each other. Hence, in unproductive years, their numbers are greatly diminished, not only by devouring their own species, but also by becoming the prey of the long-tailed Field-mice, of foxes, wild-cats, weasels, and especially of dogs.