U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Applied Animal Behaviour Science 159 (2014) 99–106.


U.S. government work.


House mice (Mus musculus) pose a threat to the native flora and fauna on islands, and cancause significant damage wherever they have been introduced. Methods used to eradicateinvasive rodents, like house mice, at high population densities may not be appropriate forintercepting them at lower densities. A better understanding of the immediate behavior ofhouse mice when first introduced to a novel environment would help managers developeffective biosecurity techniques to protect against new invasions. To address this problem,we conducted a controlled laboratory experiment that simulated an invasion by wild housemice into a novel environment. We quantified and compared the immediate behaviors ofwild house mice (n = 40) by testing various odors and other attractants, including odors(e.g., foods and conspecific), shelter, water, and a control. There was a significant differencein mouse responses to these treatments (P ≤ 0.0001). We found that the most commonimmediate reaction of invading mice was to seek shelter in a den box (u=47.7 box entries)rather than responding to the other potential attractants presented. Secondarily, the micewere interested in some food scents, particularly bacon grease (u=18.3 box entries), peanutbutter (u=17.0 box entries), and cheese (u=14.5 box entries). The sex of the mouse didnot influence their responses to odors and attractants (P ≥ 0.243), however, we noted thatfemales visited male feces and urine odors (u=17 visits) more than males visited femalefeces and urine odors (u=11 visits). Fewest visits were to the empty box (u=8.0 box entries)and the water box (u=5.1 box entries) Based on our findings, we surmise that a secure denbox which included certain food odors might entice and hold mice in a restricted area for ashort duration in a novel environment. If done properly, this arrangement could be utilizedfor early detection and response to newly-invading house mice.

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