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a family of mammals of the order Rodentia. The body length is 5 to 50 cm, and the tail length, up to 45 cm. The family comprises two subfamilies: Murinae and Hydromyinae (Australasian water rats). Some zoologists distinguish five or more subfamilies. There are 80 living genera and 12 extinct ones with more than 400 species. The Muridae are distributed throughout the world, with most species inhabiting tropical and subtropical forests. They were introduced into North and South America and into many islands. In the USSR there are 11 species belonging to five genera.
Most murids are crepuscular and nocturnal. They lead a semi-terrestrial mode of existence, feeding on seeds; some feed on other small animals. The house mouse (Mus musculus) and certain species of the genus Rattus live commensally with man. Out of doors, murids reproduce during the warm season only; in human dwellings, they reproduce throughout the year. They become sexually mature anywhere from 1.5 to three months of age.
Murids are both hosts to a large number of parasites and carriers of many diseases, including dangerous infections that affect humans and domestic animals. Murids are a threat to the grain, food, and forestry industries. The most harm is done by species of the genera Mus (for example, the house mouse) and Apodemus and by rats. Murids are controlled by mechanical, chemical, and bacteriological means.
REFERENCESArgiropulo, A. I. Semeistvo Muridae—Myshi. (Fauna SSSR, vol. 3, fasc. 5.) Moscow-Leningrad, 1940.
Misonne, X. “African and Indo-Australian Muridae, Evolutionary Trends.” Annales du Musée Royal de L ’Afrique Centrale, 1969, series 8, no. 172.
I. M. GROMOV