The house mouse (Mus musculus)(mice) is a small mammal of the order Rodentia, characteristically having a pointed snout, large rounded ears, and a long and hairy tail. It is one of the most abundant species of the genus Mus. Although a wild animal, the house mouse has benefited significantly from associating with human habitation to the point that truly wild populations are significantly less common than the semi-tame populations near human activity.
The house mouse has been domesticated as the pet or fancy mouse, and as the laboratory mouse, which is one of the most important model organisms in biology and medicine. The complete mouse reference genome was sequenced in 2002.
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House mice can sometimes transmit diseases, contaminate food, and damage food packaging. Although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives a list with diseases transmitted by rodents, only few of the diseases are transmitted through the house mouse.
Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV) can be transmitted by mice, but is not a commonly reported infection in humans, though most infections are mild and are often never diagnosed. Some concern exists that women should not to be infected with LCMV during pregnancy.
House mice are not usually a vector of human plague (bubonic plague) because they have fewer infestations with fleas than do rats, and because the fleas which house mice normally carry exhibit little tendency to bite humans rather than their natural host.
Rickettsialpox, caused by the bacterium Rickettsia akari and similar to chickenpox, is spread by mice in general, but is very rare and generally mild and resolves within 2–3 weeks if untreated. No known deaths have resulted from the disease. Murine typhus (also called endemic typhus) is caused by the bacterium Rickettsia typhi, and is transmitted by the fleas that infest rats. While rat fleas are the most common vectors, cat fleas and mouse fleas are less common modes of transmission. Endemic typhus is highly treatable with antibiotics. The U.S. CDC currently does not mention rickettsialpox or murine typhus on its website about diseases directly transmitted by rodents (in general).
Leptospirosis is carried by a variety of wild and domestic animals including dogs, rats, swine, cattle, mice in general, and can be transmitted by the urine of an infected animal and is contagious as long as the urine is still moist.
House mice usually live less than one year in the wild, due to a high level of predation and exposure to harsh environments. In protected environments, however, they often live two to three years. The Methuselah Mouse Prize is a competition to breed or engineer extremely long-lived laboratory mice. As of 2005, the record holder was a genetically engineered mouse that lived for 1,819 days (5 years, 39 days). Another record holder that was kept in an enriched environment but did not receive any genetic, pharmacological, or dietary treatment lived for 1,551 days (4 years, 90 days).