Assuming that the world still uses melee weapons like swords and spears, has magic and medievalesque warfare tactics. They are a race of smart mice (they still look like mice, just that they can use armor, weapons and magic). And their opponents are a human army and kingdom (for whatever reason they want to destroy a kingdom (I don't know), maybe to get a lifetime supply of cheese?)

  • LOW TECHNOLOGY (no, they can't build a tank and start shooting pea-sized shells).
  • Assuming that they can stand on two legs and hold a weapon with one 'hand'.

For an idea on how they kind of look, they look like the mice that are in the mobile game War Tortoise.

EDIT: Urh, I wasn't expecting the mice to to have a landslide victory actually, but I feel like it would be pretty easy to counter them once you know of the them. Adding in magic would really just make them stupidly overpowered [mice who can cast stuff like poison needle and fireballs???] like they would just outright assassinate humans.

Sry if they were any weird unexplained parts, this was my first question

Nonetheless I'm gonna make that follow up question and thank you all for answering. How would humans defend themselves against mice that are sentient and intelligent?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think they would need weapons. $\endgroup$ Jul 8 '16 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ Cheese is actually quite unhealthy for mice, as are most other foods typically used to lure them (peanut butter and chocolate come to mind) $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Jul 8 '16 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ I've been asking myself this question since I was 10. $\endgroup$ Jul 8 '16 at 16:26
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    $\begingroup$ Sky, please post a follow up question: How would humans defend against sentient mice? We're not doing so well in the battle against supposedly non-sentient rats. $\endgroup$
    – browly
    Jul 8 '16 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ Go for the eyes, Boo, GO FOR THE EYES! $\endgroup$
    – Taegost
    Jul 8 '16 at 17:25

13 Answers 13


Forget armor, forget swords unless they're needles filled with venom. Such weapons don't work well at small scale and are utterly useless against any foe much larger than the mice themselves.


The mice are going to need lots and lots of poison.

Their big advantage is numbers. Mice are fully grown at 12 weeks and can reproduce 5-10 times a year with litters of 3-14 each. individual mice will be expendable in a battle for survival. They just need to be willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of litter and nest.

The humans will try to poison them but the mice can use this to their own advantage by simply stealing all the poison. Cats and dogs being a major threat but lacking intelligence can be targeted first. The mice could lace food with poison and drop it to the animals.

Suicide mice may volunteer to throw themselves into the mouths of dogs after eating as much poison as they can. ordinary mice might routinely carry poison capsules on their person simply so that anything which snaps them up whole won't be eating anyone else ever again.

Poison and disease would be powerful weapons with the mice destroying food reserves and contaminating wells but also open to the mice is the option of arson.


Fire would be a terrible ally of the mice. Mice can enter almost any building, get almost anywhere and smart mice can pick their targets and coordinate. Imagine across an entire city at 3 in the morning suddenly 10,000 tiny bags of oil are ignited in every house with anything dry enough to burn. The kings guard rush to defend from an attacking horde but find nothing. Just people and animals fleeing while unnoticed a few mice flee beneath peoples feet. As the city becomes a firestorm the surviving mice flee through the sewers.


The war with humans would rely on stealth. The mice are at the greatest advantage while the humans don't know they're fighting. The mice can sneak into almost any planning meeting, dig out almost any secret.

If the humans became certain of the nature of the threat there are far more potent defenses they could mount against mice than would ever be used against ordinary dumb mice but if the mice could strike first with enough coordination they could destroy entire kingdoms in a day.

Areas occupied by the mice are going to be notable for their absence of various predators since the intelligent mice would slaughter them one way or another just as humans wipe out any predators willing to kill humans.

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    $\begingroup$ "just as humans wipe out any predators willing to kill humans. " -- I don't know... I lock them up in tiny cages and keep them for show. $\endgroup$ Jul 8 '16 at 17:19
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    $\begingroup$ Still they will have problems to cover long distances in a short time. Dogs can be trained to find them but not to kill them. Also, mice intelligence will affect their population. You can't get a smart mouse in 12 weeks. One of the reasons why people need 9 month is the brain development. Then you need education. Smart mice must also live longer (lower mortality) and thus it's unlikely that would breed so fast as normal mice (laws of evolution). $\endgroup$
    – Sulthan
    Jul 9 '16 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ Also, Magic in general. Most magic systems don't care about the size of the caster. $\endgroup$ Jul 9 '16 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Sulthan Yes! I was thinking the same thing! Though honestly sentient mice and no mutations don't really go together. $\endgroup$ Jul 10 '16 at 0:11
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    $\begingroup$ "Welcome to Mouse-Town men..." says the General as he stares at the deserted city, building on fire and cat skeletons littering the street corners... $\endgroup$ Oct 5 '16 at 2:02

Same tactics non-intelligent mice have been using to kill humans for millennia.

  1. Attack the food supply.
  2. Spread disease (black plague, aka Yersinia pestis).
  3. Go after the young/infirm/elderly (infants in cribs, etc).

Trying to conduct a stand up "war" with humans is futile, as humans will just employ rat catching dogs and cats to massacre them, no need for humans to do any fighting. So the mice will have to utilize extreme asymmetric warfare tactics.

Do the humans know these intelligent mice exist? The mice, if they are literate, could easily "curse" the kingdom by destroying food and water supplies and leaving apocalyptic messages behind. Since they can infiltrate areas humans can not, humans will likely not have any "rational" explanation and will quickly default to a superstitious one, especially if the mice know enough about the human religion to exploit it. Combine that with deliberate spreading of disease (even just seeding their feces into food containers, wells, and silos will do the trick, they don't have to employ actual pathologic organisms) and targeting of the most vulnerable members of human society, the mice could easily destabilize the kingdom to the point where it collapses and people flee.

Coordinated groups of tool using mice would be more effective at taking out lone cats and dogs, so those are really their most deadly opponent. Should it come to battle with a human, the mice can use needles smeared with feces to puncture the skin and let disease take over. Highly unlikely that they could overwhelm a human unless they could drop it to the ground and go after the throat or trap it in a confined area. Humans would most likely employ fire/poison against rodents, trying to kill them individually is virtually useless.

Assuming that groups of intelligent mice are a known thing to humans, the humans may have better luck hiring a rival tribe of smart mice to kill the attacking smart mice, paying "protection cheese" if you will. Quite frankly, most medieval societies would probably vastly benefit from a controllable rodent population they pay off in return for secure homes and food storage.

EDIT: I didn't address magic because you have left it very vague. Elaborate on the type of magic (DnD style, druidic, etc) and I can incorporate that.

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    $\begingroup$ I doubt anyone could get a herd of cats to do anything but lick their asses and stare at you. $\endgroup$
    – coblr
    Jul 8 '16 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ I dunno, don't domestic cats account for like 3 BILLION deaths of birds and rodents each year? I imagine if every household had one a mouse invasion would be short lived at best. But yeah, I've seen my fat cats get winded just looking at a rabbit in the yard, much less trying to chase one :P $\endgroup$
    – Jason K
    Jul 8 '16 at 20:01
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    $\begingroup$ @fractalspawn I don't think you could get a herd to do that, even. Too many of them would be sleeping, fighting/playing with each other, and trying to get away. $\endgroup$
    – jpmc26
    Jul 8 '16 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ But this is why rat catching dogs exist. They are far more trainable and operate in packs. There are videos out there of (Russian I think) guys setting dogs on rats fleeing a huge pile of garbage. The dogs kill DOZENS every minute. $\endgroup$
    – Jason K
    Jul 11 '16 at 14:20

Well, depending on a few details you don't specify, they could do a lot of damage.

Mice are tiny and can find their way into pretty much anywhere if they have a mind to. We use poison and traps to keep them under control, but smart mice would easily avoid those.

Thus, they would pose a significant threat to any group of people they decided to go up against. They could sneak into the larders and poison, or spoil the food. They could sneak up into bedrooms and assassinate key individuals in various inventive ways (setting up tripwires, stabbing them while they sleep, poisoning them, etc.) They could set fires, or set off powder magazines. Realistically they could assault a town and wreak terrible damage before anyone even realized they were there.

I would imagine that cats would become very popular pets, but that the mice would develop ways in which to fight them as well.

Humanity's defense at that point becomes magic. Wards against pests, magical bait which lures even the smartest mouse to its doom, etc.


their opponents are a human army and kingdom

Are the rats targeting only the royalty and their loyal army, or the entire kingdom along with its citizens etc.? If the former, an effective way would be to help any human attackers (enemy nations, rebellious nobles) to win over the targeted enemies.

If there are parties discontent with the targets, the rats could foster more unrest and provoke a fight between the two sides. Then, sneak into armories to gnaw at their armor fastenings, saddles etc. Tunnel underneath the royal fort and citadel so that walls collapse, moats are drained (maybe into the inner area!) and generally make the defenses a shambles. Granaries would also be a prime target to cut off the human food supply while satiating the rat hordes.

An army that can't ride horses or wear armor, unable to turtle up in good fortifications because those are wrecked, and short on rations - is going to be far easier to defeat by enemy armies.

Now, this is assuming that the intelligent rats aren't able to make direct alliances with enemy countries and are working in the shadows. If that is not the case, then they could even setup an effective cooperation including providing valuable intel on troop movements and highly protected areas (which are likely to be places of refuge or treasure storage).

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    $\begingroup$ Yes - divide and conquer seems the most effective tactic here. Overtly declaring war should be a last resort. However, it will be difficult to ensure that human attacks don;'t result in rodent collateral damage. $\endgroup$ Jul 9 '16 at 3:05

It's all about the swarm. Overwhelm them with numbers.

Rats and mice are territorial, you either get one or the other. A rat will kill a lone mouse, but the mice mob the rats and attack from all sides. Mice can breed up to very large numbers very fast as any Australian grain farmer will tell you.

This is a numbers game my zerglings, just numbers.


Wiring and other subtle sabotage would be a good target. Human with car? Chew wiring. Get into the exhaust or chew into pipework and plan to block the pipes or leave sooty deposits in the engine or pipework. Electrical devices? Chew, expose to rain, at a pinch chew the wirings and short them out as you die.

Poison and product contamination are also workable - spread with paws and fur.

Mice have numbers on their side, which makes kamikaze (in the broad sense of dying to do more harm) a workable approach.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a medieval kingdom, not modern. $\endgroup$ Jul 10 '16 at 0:15
  • $\begingroup$ Ah. You mean, large keyholes, fibre rope, holes in masonry, sack and fabric storage bags for food, food and eating eqipment easily infected, ready sources of cholera, typhoid or other diseases, possible rabies bites,.... $\endgroup$
    – Stilez
    Jul 10 '16 at 15:04
  • $\begingroup$ +1 though you should edit that into your answer. Disease is always a good touch.:) $\endgroup$ Jul 10 '16 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ It's there (sort of) - "Contamination". $\endgroup$
    – Stilez
    Jul 10 '16 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ This is medieval. Stirrups, saddle straps, ox harnesses, are the things to chew. $\endgroup$
    – arp
    Sep 8 '16 at 3:27


Simply crap in the humans' food. Rodents don't even need to be intelligent to kill lots of people that way.


Magic makes it easy. Cast a spell that has terrible effects on the much larger human beings but causes no problems for mice. Maybe it makes things heavier, or some dramatic thing that is good for the story. But just killing anything warm blooded and larger than a stone would do. Just wouldn't be much of a novel if it were without interesting side effects and worked too well/too fast.


It would make no sense for either the mice or humans to arm themselves with swords and armor. Both sides would rely on agility and unconventional methods. The mice could leverage some form of catapult style weapon, perhaps with fire or a pencil sized poison dart as the payload.

For inspiration, read up on the US experiments during WW2 when they considered unleashing swarms of bats fitted with tiny incendiary bombs against Japanese cities. That was to be the backup plan if the a-bomb project didn't pan out. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat_bomb

If possible, a good tactic would be to lure the humans into a slot canyon and attack from above.


Use weapons and tactics similar to those that humans use against elephants and whales.

By the way, I once read that three sleeping elephants bled to death after rats gnawed the soles of their feet.

So maybe the mice could simultaneously cut the throats and wrists of every human sleeping in the city.


Same way they did already. Use biological warfare. Rats/mice were the primary spreaders of the black death in the dark ages. They just need to spread it again. They need to use what there already well suited for. Spreading sickness and pecilence(sp?). Next they can just eat all our food stores. No need for weapons or magic at all


In short: not enough information given.

Really, everything is possible by making up different kinds of magic. To me it seems like you already know how you want them to fight (namely in a medieval sword and fireball way). So what you actually need is not an answer to your question as you posed it, but you need to make up your mind about what capabilities you can give them without changing the outcome which you already have in mind. Only once you have that fixed you can continue and find the way for them to attack humans which benefits your story the most.


one thing that I recently learned about mice is that they are functional blind. We had mice in our backyard who showed no fear in coming out in the open when the cats were watching from the outdoor cage we keep them in. The mice would hide when pigeons would come to feed so shadows and swooping, fluttery sounds they could hear. But they did not realise the cats were watching, and would even come all the way down the garden and enter the cat run (big outdoor cage) without realising that would be a mistake.

When I talked this over with my wife she said well of course! Mice are blind. They have very poor vision and do not reply on that sense for finding food or anything.

So .. all of the other answers presume that mice can see what they are doing .. aiming weapons etc .. when they cannot.

Just Sayin'


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