Mice are some of the trickiest household pests to deal with. They’re capable of bringing all sorts of germs and parasites into the home.
Worse still, they’re adept at staying hidden, sneaking out at night to raid your kitchen, and nibbling at your food and furniture.
And when it comes to the types of mice, there are two main varieties for homeowners to worry about: field mice and house mice.
As the names suggest, house mice are more commonly found around homes and urban areas, while field mice tend to live out in rural locations.
However, both types can invade the home and cause problems for homeowners. For that reason, it’s helpful to be able to tell them apart, so you know exactly what kind of mouse issue you’re dealing with, if these pesky rodents enter your property.
But what’s the difference between field mice and house mice, and how do you tell them apart? This field mice vs house mice guide will cover all you need to know, highlighting six of the biggest differences.
Without doubt, one of the biggest differences between field mice and house mice is their appearance.
A simple glance is enough to help you figure out which is which, as they have different body sizes, tails, and even fur coloring, too.
Field mice typically grow to lengths of around 3 to 4 inches in total.
They have quite short tails, which are hairless, and their fur is typically brown or gray in hue, with white or lightly-colored bellies, legs, and feet. They also have quite small ears.
House mice will grow to lengths between 2 to 3.5 inches, on average.
Their fur is usually one solid color, without any deviation or differences in areas like the belly or legs. Their fur tends to be light brown or gray in color, and their tails are quite long and hairy, with large ears and eyes, too.
There are several big differences to note in terms of appearance.
House mice are generally smaller than field mice and made up of one fur color.
Field mice, meanwhile, typically have two-tone coats, hairless tails, and smaller ears.
Another major difference between house mice and field mice concerns their habitat.
As explained earlier, it’s more common to spot house mice in urban areas and field mice out in the fields. However, both mice have more subtle and specific differences in terms of where they like to live.
Field mice are most often found in fields, woodlands, and plains. This is mainly due to the fact that they’re less social and confident compared to house mice.
They won’t actively seek out cities and human-populated areas unless they have to. Their nests tend to be situated beneath the ground or inside trees, where it’s warm and safe.
House mice also originate out in the wilderness and can be found in the same kinds of areas as field mice, like woodlands and fields.
However, they’re more commonly spotted in towns and cities, and are more likely to sneak into homes and buildings.
In the wild, they’ll nest in shrubs. Inside, they’ll look for spaces that seem quiet and safe, like garages, attics, and inside walls.
The key difference here is that you’re much more likely to have a house mice infestation than a field mice problem.
House mice spend much more time in and around the kinds of places people like to live.
When it comes to field mice vs house mice, there are also some big behavioral differences separating the two.
They have quite different characters and natural tendencies, which can make dealing with a house mice problem quite different to dealing with field mice.
As touched on above, field mice aren’t social creatures, nor do they have the same confidence and opportunistic nature as their house mice counterparts.
They’re timid and cautious creatures in general, which is what makes them less likely to enter homes. And even if they do get into a home, they won’t explore it with the same eagerness and confidence as house mice.
They also like to hoard up a big supply of food close to their nests, usually in a place they deem to be safe, like inside a tree trunk.
Finally, when it comes to moving around, they’re efficient climbers. This can help them reach those hard-to-access places, and it also makes them quite effective at escaping in unpredictable ways if you spot them or try to catch one.
House mice are curious and opportunistic creatures. If they sense that there’s a chance to get some food, they won’t usually shy away from trying their luck.
However, this doesn’t mean that they’re foolish – they’ll use their powerful sense of smell to sniff out danger and enter new areas with caution, watching out for signs of danger or the presence of predators.
They’ll explore new places and forage actively, eating whatever they can find.
And rather than hoarding food, they’ll simply seek out a good supply and make a nest nearby.
Movement-wise, they’re surprisingly powerful jumpers, which can help them reach new areas or escape from danger in a pinch.
Overall, the main difference is their generally contrasting natures – field mice are much more timid and cautious compared to house mice.
You can expect house mice to be more persistent, which can make things difficult when using mouse repellent or other mice control products.
House mice and field mice also differ in terms of what they eat.
They’ll both willingly eat quite a wide mixture of foods, but the diet of field mice tends to be a little more restricted overall.
Since they spend much of their time in rural areas and places like fields and meadows, field mice mainly eat grass and seeds.
And, as explained previously, they like to gather food close to their nests.
The diet of house mice is much more varied than their field-dwelling siblings.
They’ll also eat seeds and grains at any opportunity, but are more than happy to eat human food, like crumbs from plates and scraps in trash cans. They’ll even eat live insects, like crickets and roaches.
In short, they’ll nibble on more or less anything they can find and use their strong sense of smell to sniff out snacks from afar.
This is why a lot of mice repellent products feature strong-smelling ingredients, like mouse deterrent pouches with cinnamon and peppermint that are effective for keeping mice away from certain areas.
Here, the big difference is variety.
The typical diet of house mice is much more varied compared to that of field mice. And if you have house mice in your home, almost all of your food is at risk of being nibbled and gnawed at.
Field mice and house mice droppings are also a little different.
And this can be important to learn when you want to discern between the two and figure out if you’ve got a house mice or field mice problem.
Field mice droppings are small, dark brown in color, and with pointy ends.
House mice droppings look like brown grains of rice, with elongated shapes and rounded ends.
They also have quite pungent urine, smelling similar to ammonia.
The main difference between the two is the shape. If you put house mice dropping and field mouse droppings side-by-side, it’s quite easy to spot the rounded shape of the house mice and the pointed ends of the field mice.
Remember, mice can spread lots of diseases and infections via their urine and feces.
It’s therefore important to exercise caution and care when examining any droppings they leave behind.
6. Dangers and Risks
Both field mice and house mice can cause problems and pose risks to homeowners.
Hence, it’s recommended to invest in strong mouse prevention techniques to keep both types at bay. However, they do differ in terms of the typical dangers they pose and diseases they can carry.
With field mice, arguably the biggest danger of all is a virus called hantavirus.
This is an unpleasant disease that causes a range of respiratory difficulties. In the worst cases, it can make it difficult for people to breathe, due to fluid building up on their lungs.
In the worst cases, infections can develop into the more serious hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, or HPS, which causes fever, fatigue, bodily aches and pains, dizziness, vomiting, and serious lung problems.
There are even some patients who die of this disease due to respiratory failure.
House mice may also carry hantavirus, but are more likely to bring other diseases and germs into the home. Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is one example, and estimates suggest that around 5% of all house mice carry this virus.
It may cause headaches, fever, muscle aches, vomiting, and other symptoms, and it can lead to much more serious issues, like fluid on the brain and meningitis.
House mice are also likely to carry fleas and ticks into the home, along with other illnesses, such as leptospirosis.
Both types of mice are bad news for people. They can carry lots of viruses, parasites, and germs, which they may transmit via biting, feces, urine, or saliva.
Furthermore, they both do lots of damage inside a property from gnawing at things, like wires, and causing mental health trauma to residents.
The main difference is that field mice are more likely to carry hantavirus, while house mice often have other viruses and germs in their bodies.
Field Mouse and House Mouse Prevention
As you can see, there are quite a few differences between house mice and field mice.
But if either of these mice get into your home, they can wreak a whole lot of havoc. It’s a good idea, therefore, to invest in the best mice repellent and prevention products and strategies to stop infestations from happening.
Here are a few tips to keep field and house mice at bay:
- Mouse Repellent: Use mouse repellent products, like mouse repellent spray and bags, to stop mice entering your home. It’s much easier and more effective to stop mice entering than having to get rid of an infestation or use costly mice killer products and services.
- Seal Points of Entry: Mice are small and can sneak into the home via little cracks and gaps. A great way to prevent this is by sealing up all those points of entry using caulk, compounds, and even door sweeps at the base of doors.
- Clean Up: House mice, in particular, are attracted to homes due to the smell of food. And they’re much more likely to be drawn to messy properties where food containers are left open or messes aren’t tidied up. Clean your home, especially the kitchen, and seal up any food in airtight containers.
- Adopt a Cat: It’s not the cheapest mouse prevention strategy, and it’s certainly not for everyone, but adopting a cat can be a powerful way to keep mice from entering your home. Even the smell of a cat is often enough to send a clear “Keep away!” message to any local rodents.
Use the Best Mouse Repellent to Stop Field and House Mice
Overall, there are several differences between field and house mice in key areas like diet, habitat, behavior, size, and appearance.
Telling the two apart is easy once you know how, but it’s important to acknowledge that both of them can pose risks to human health and safety.
If you suspect you have field house mice issue, it’s important to take action. And one of the best mouse repellent products is Tougher Than Tom’s Mouse Repellent Pouches.
These mouse repellent bags are filled with natural mouse repellent ingredients that field and house mice hate, like cinnamon and peppermint.
They’re ideal for preventing infestations and keeping any home safe and sound against local rodent populations.