Mice and rats reproduce rapidly, as is generally the case with small prey animals. Their relatively short life spans, short gestational periods and rapid sexual maturity make effective rodent control critical. The reproductive cycle and number of rodent offspring increases with adequate food, water and harborage.
House Mouse Reproduction Cycle
Mice become sexually mature and able to mate in as little as 5 weeks. Generally, sexual maturity is reached in 5 to 8 weeks.
Female mice reproduce up to 8 times in their lifespan, with litters averaging 4 to 7 pups. Therefore, a single female may produce up to 56 offspring annually.
Rat Reproduction Cycle
Norway and roof rats become sexually mature and able to mate at 8 to 12 weeks of age.
Norway rats average 8 to 12 pups per litter, averaging 4 to 7 litters per year.
Roof rats average 4 to 8 pups per litter, averaging 4 to 6 litters per year.
Related Reproductive Characteristics
House mice, Norway rats and roof rats share several reproductive characteristics:
After giving birth they can be in heat and become pregnant in as little as 24 to 48 hours.
Females can be pregnant and still lactate to feed their current litter of pups. However, the gestational period may be slightly longer in this case.
They will reproduce year-round in stable environments with adequate food, water and harborage. Less favorable conditions limit reproduction to spring and autumn.
The normal life expectancy of house mice, Norway rats and roof rats is approximately one year.
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