Do Pet Mice Play Dead? 5 Things to Consider

Yes, pet mice will play dead when threatened or in pain. Many rodents, including mice, exhibit this behavior. Mice are prey animals, which means that other animals hunt them for food. Mice have developed ways of hiding in order to stay alive when threatened by a predator.

It sounds like something out of Tom & Jerry, but this actually happens and many people have witnessed this with their own eyes.

It’s very common for small rodents to hide if they feel threatened or when they are in pain. They will pull in their limbs, hold their breath and close their eyes, appearing dead to anyone watching them. This is an instinctive behavior that allows the mouse to survive when it would otherwise be killed by predators.

Mice have developed this instinct for recognizing the danger in their environment, and they always try to avert this danger by not stepping close to it. But when this danger is inevitable, they have a few tricks up their sleeves. That’s especially true when they are hunted by other animals, especially cats.

Various people have reported that they’ve seen their cat catch a mouse, and then a few minutes later when the cat was not paying attention, the mouse made a quick and swift escape to safety.

It’s their safety mechanism that looks and seems funny at first, but it’s actually quite effective at protecting them. Take a look at this bit of live-action to start with and see it with your own eyes – and no, this is not a scene from Tom & Jerry!

Is My Mouse Dead or Sleeping?

Sometimes, you might be seeing your mouse just like it is dead, so you don’t know if it is just sleeping or it is playing dead. You might be worrying and scared that your mouse is actually dead, but most of the time, you’ll find out that your mouse is actually sleeping.

Mice will only play dead when they are in danger, and if it’s only you in their vicinity, they would feel no threat at all, most likely.

They might just be sleeping, so it’s normal for them to appear as if they are dead, especially some mice are funny sleepers as they sleep in weird positions.

The next time you see your mouse in its sleep and you think it’s dead, don’t be scared.

It’s probably just sleeping, and if it doesn’t move when you poke it a bit, then you still shouldn’t worry because it’s possibly just not bothered to respond to you at all, since you’re not a real threat to them.

How Much Do Mice Sleep?

Mice are avid sleepers, and they will sleep away most of the day. They will sleep around 14 hours a day, and most of their sleeping will be done during the day.

Mice are nocturnal animals, though. They will spend most of their nights rummaging around the tank, and possibly spinning the wheel.

So if you’re planning to keep a mice tank near your bed, it’s probably not the best idea since they are likely to cause a lot of noise during the night.

During the day, they will spend most of the day tucked away somewhere safe and hidden, and they will stay comfortable and asleep for at least 14 hours a day.

They will be the most active when they feel there is no threat around them. At night, they will likely have a lot of ample time to entertain themselves since they will be safe in their tank and away from any potential dangers from outside.

They will be the most active during the dusk and dawn, and that’s because they have very poor eyesight and they are very sensitive to bright lights. So you can expect a lot of activity during those hours, and don’t be surprised to hear noises at night or even early in the morning.

Why is My Pet Mouse Sleeping All Day?

Mice will spend most of their day sleeping, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see them much during the day. They will spend their nights active, and that’s why you won’t see them doing anything else but sleep during the day, as they are quite sensitive to sunlight.

It’s normal to see them sleep during the day and most of the day. But if you see them behave weirdly and you also notice that they become somewhat lethargic and they also don’t eat or drink, then you might start to consider the possibility of a disease.

So this is completely normal if you see your mice sleep for the majority of the day – that’s just what they do. However, if you notice some other potential symptoms of diseases, do not hesitate to contact your vet.

How Can You Tell if a Mouse is Dying?

Obviously, sleeping is something entirely different than dying, and you’ll probably notice the difference immediately. When the mice are sleeping, you’ll still hear them at night, and they will still eat their food and drink the water.

However, if you notice other potential changes in their behavior, or if they start to refuse food, they change in appearance, and they become lethargic or they are simply just lying there without too much movement, then the prognosis might not be so good.

In any case, it’s time for quick and swift action if you notice a mouse that’s showing obvious signs of disease and potential death. When that happens, you’ll do well to visit your vet as quickly as possible, and also consider the options you can take right away.

How to Dispose of a Dead Mouse?

If you have grown attached to your mouse and it has recently passed away, then you might even prepare a special ceremonial. Many owners tend to bury their mice in small boxes, which is a “humane” thing to do.

You can do the same – make sure that the mouse is not in danger of being taken away by any vultures that prey during the night, and some might even dig out if you decide to bury them. So place them in a box so they are safe from this.


To conclude, yes, mice do play dead when they sense the danger around them, as indicated in the video above.

You’ll be surprised at how this happens, but you should learn how to distinguish when your mouse is simply sleeping or when it is actually in danger.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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