Can mice climb? Mice have some amazing athletic skills. As it turns out, climbing is one of them!
Not only does this ability to climb explain how sometimes mice may end up in places they shouldn’t be, but this is also an important tidbit of information if you want to provide your pet mouse with more habitat enrichment.
So read on now to find out what can mice climb and how they do it!
Video of mice climbing
Watching mice climbing can sometimes feel like you are watching a tiny furry superhero achieving the impossible.
In this video, watch not one, not two, but three mice lick their paws and shimmy up the inside of a narrow weep vent!
(You can also see one plump fellow who clearly assessed the apparent available space inside the weep hole and decided the situation was a no-go.)
How can mice climb?
When learning more about how can mice climb, you will quickly discover some of the most knowledgeable folks on the planet when it comes to mice are the pest control people. They will tell you that if your home has an open space the mere width of a pencil, the average mouse can and will readily sneak in.
What is so intriguing here is that mice use their whiskers to feel around inside the space and determine if there is sufficient room for the rest of them to fit!
So, for example, in the video linked earlier, three mice stick their whiskery noses inside a weep hole and then head right in. The last mouse does the same and then beats a retreat – his whiskers told him the fit would be far too tight.
What can mice climb?
Mice also have a variety of other athletic abilities to help maximize their chances of reaching a desirable destination (such as your cozy attic). Mice can jump across a distance as wide as a foot and a half. They can also swim.
These extra skills widen the range of the different terrains mice can navigate with relative ease. Read on to look more closely at some amazing structures and surfaces mice can climb!
Can mice climb walls?
To see mice climbing walls is not unusual – if you understand how mouse physiognomy works.
Mice have tiny, sharp claws on the end of each toe, and these claws are what help the climber to, essentially, “free climb” up the sides of textured walls and other vertical surfaces.
The mouse foot is really pretty amazing. It is a soft, flexible appendage made for grasping, holding, gripping and even running backwards when the need arises (such as quickly retreating into a burrow after the appearance of a predator).
Mice have five toes on each front foot and four toes on each back foot, which gives them extra stability when exploring and climbing. Each foot also has a special gland that releases odor as the mouse walks around. This helps other mice know who has been where, how long ago, and other useful information.
Can mice climb smooth walls?
In order for mice to climb, they have to have something to grip or stick their claws into.
There is a difference here between a smooth, hard surface and a smooth, soft or porous surface. The former will likely be impossible for mice to climb. The latter can be readily climbed so long as the surface is sufficiently soft or full of small pores (openings) to insert tiny claws.
Can mice climb brick walls and drywall?
Brick walls are a great example of a porous surface with plenty of small apertures and indentations where mice can insert their claws to find a toehold.
Can mice climb drywall? Drywall typically has a sufficiently porous surface that mice have no trouble climbing up it.
Can mice climb glass?
Glass is one of the few “climb-proof” surfaces that even the most determined of mice won’t be able to climb. This is because glass is smooth and hard with nothing for the mice to grip onto or dig into.
Can mice climb vinyl siding or metal?
Mice can definitely climb vinyl siding. They can use the grooves and natural texture to find toeholds.
But can mice climb metal?
Metal, like glass, is a surface that is typically too smooth for mice to climb. The exception here can be some types of aluminum siding, which mice may climb by finding toeholds along the corners or edges.
Can mice climb trees?
Mice are great at climbing trees!
The bark of most trees makes for a nice textured surface that a mouse can use to find claw holds to climb up and down.
Can mice climb stairs?
If you want to make it very easy for mice to climb stairs, put carpeting on them! But mice may be able to climb even smooth, varnished wood stairs if the wood has a textured grain.
Climbing for enrichment
As you can see, mice will climb pretty much anything climbable for the right incentive. What is important to know here is that one powerful incentive is fun!
Science has shown that both wild and domestic mice will run on wheels and climb ladders and other surfaces because it is fun for them. Mice are smart, curious and inventive. A big part of making sure your mouse is enriched by its habitat is ensuring these skills get put to good use on a daily basis.
Ladders, blocks, ropes, linked chains, PVC pipe sections, cardboard tubes, boxes and other toys can offer your mice several ways to enjoy climbing inside their habitat.
Can mice climb?
So the next time a visitor gazes curiously at your pet mouse and inquires “Can mice climb?” you will be able to regale them with your pet’s many wondrous natural climbing skills!
Do you have a pet mouse who loves to climb? Does your mouse have any favorite climbing toys? Please drop us a comment to share your story!
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Bradford, A., “Mouse Facts: Habits, Habitat & Types of Mice,” Live Science, 2014.
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Pochmann, V., “Mouse Keeping: Understanding Mouse Behavior/Environmental Enrichment for the Pet Rat,” American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association, 2015.
Fawcett, A., BA(Hons) BSc(Vet)(Hons) BVSc(Hons) CMAVA, “Guidelines for the Housing of Mice in Scientific Institutions,” Animal Research Review, 2012.