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A mouse, plural mice, is a small rodent characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, a body-length scaly tail, and a high breeding rate. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse (Mus musculus). It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are locally common. They are known to invade homes for food and shelter.
Species of mice are mostly classified in Rodentia, and are present throughout the order. Typical mice are classified in the genus Mus.
Mice are typically distinguished from rats by their size. Generally, when someone discovers a smaller muroid rodent, its common name includes the term mouse, while if it is larger, the name includes the term rat. Common terms rat and mouse are not taxonomically specific. Scientifically, the term mouse is not confined to members of Mus for example, but also applies to species from other genera such as the deer mouse, Peromyscus.
Domestic mice sold as pets often differ substantially in size from the common house mouse. This is attributable both to breeding and to different conditions in the wild. The best-known strain, the white lab mouse, has more uniform traits that are appropriate to its use in research.
Cats, wild dogs, foxes, birds of prey, snakes and even certain kinds of arthropods have been known to prey heavily upon mice. Nevertheless, because of its remarkable adaptability to almost any environment, the mouse is one of the most successful mammalian genera living on Earth today.
Mice, in certain contexts, can be considered vermin which are a major source of crop damage, causing structural damage and spreading diseases through their parasites and feces. In North America, breathing dust that has come in contact with mouse excrement has been linked to hantavirus, which may lead to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS).
Primarily nocturnal animals, mice compensate for their poor eyesight with a keen sense of hearing, and rely especially on their sense of smell to locate food and avoid predators.
Mice build long intricate burrows in the wild. These typically have long entrances and are equipped with escape tunnels or routes. In at least one species, the architectural design of a burrow is a genetic trait.
Rats are various medium-sized, long-tailed rodents. Species of rats are found throughout the order Rodentia, but stereotypical rats are found in the genus Rattus. Other rat genera include Neotoma (pack rats), Bandicota (bandicoot rats) and Dipodomys (kangaroo rats).
Rats are typically distinguished from mice by their size. Generally, when someone discovers a large muroid rodent, its common name includes the term rat, while if it is smaller, its name includes the term mouse. The common terms rat and mouse are not taxonomically specific.
The best-known rat species are the black rat (Rattus rattus) and the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus). This group, generally known as the Old World rats or true rats, originated in Asia. Rats are bigger than most Old World mice, which are their relatives, but seldom weigh over 500 grams (1.1 lb) in the wild.
The term rat is also used in the names of other small mammals that are not true rats. Examples include the North American pack rats (aka wood rats) and a number of species loosely called kangaroo rats. Rats such as the bandicoot rat (Bandicota bengalensis) are murine rodents related to true rats but are not members of the genus Rattus.
Male rats are called bucks; unmated females, does, pregnant or parent females, dams; and infants, kittens or pups. A group of rats is referred to as a mischief.
The common species are opportunistic survivors and often live with and near humans; therefore, they are known as commensals. They may cause substantial food losses, especially in developing countries. However, the widely distributed and problematic commensal species of rats are a minority in this diverse genus. Many species of rats are island endemics, some of which have become endangered due to habitat loss or competition with the brown, black, or Polynesian rat.
Skeleton of a black rat (Rattus rattus) on display at the Museum of Osteology. Wild rodents, including rats, can carry many different zoonotic pathogens, such as Leptospira, Toxoplasma gondii, and Campylobacter. The Black Death is traditionally believed to have been caused by the microorganism Yersinia pestis, carried by the tropical rat flea (Xenopsylla cheopis), which preyed on black rats living in European cities during the epidemic outbreaks of the Middle Ages; these rats were used as transport hosts. Another zoonotic disease linked to the rat is foot-and-mouth disease.
A rat in a suburb of Vancouver Rats become sexually mature at age 6 weeks, but reach social maturity at about 5 to 6 months of age. The average lifespan of rats varies by species, but many only live about a year due to predation.
The rat’s larynx has been used in experimentations that involve inhalation toxicity, allograft rejection, and irradiation responses. One experiment described four features of the rat’s larynx. The first being the location and attachments of the thyroarytenoid muscle, the alar cricoarytenoid muscle, and the superior cricoarytenoid muscle, the other of the newly named muscle that ran from the arytenoid to a midline tubercle on the cricoid. The newly named muscles were not seen in the human larynx.
In addition, the location and configuration of the laryngeal alar cartilage was described. The second feature was that the way the newly named muscles appear to be familiar to those in the human larynx. The third feature was that a clear understanding of how MEPs are distributed in each of the laryngeal muscles was helpful in understanding the effects of botulinum toxin injection. The MEPs in the posterior cricoarytenoid muscle, lateral cricoarytenoid muscle, cricothyroid muscle, and superior cricoarytenoid muscle were focused mostly at the midbelly. In addition, the medial thyroarytenoid muscle were focused at the midbelly while the lateral thyroarytenoid muscle MEPs were focused at the anterior third of the belly. The fourth and final feature that was cleared up was how the MEPs were distributed in the thyroarytenoid muscle.