Deer Mouse: Facts, Identification & Control

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Deer Mouse: Facts, Identification & Control

Appearance

Round and slender, ranging from 2 3/4 to 4 inches long in body length with a pointed nose and large, black, beady eyes. Ears are large with little fur covering them. Body is bicolored with a light brownish-reddish top and white underbelly and feet. Tail is short, distinctly bicolored (dark on top and light on bottom), and covered with short, fine hairs and can be two to five inches in length if present.

Habit

Nests within hollow logs, tree holes, under piles of stones or logs. Most commonly associated with prairies or other rural, bushy or wooded areas. Avoids humans if indoors, preferring attics, basements or crawl spaces. Next to the house mouse, the deer mouse is the most common small mammal in North America with a wide distribution.

Diet

Omnivorous, but prefers seeds, nuts, small fruits and berries, insects, centipedes, and the subterranean fungus Endogone.

Reproduction

Reaches sexual maturity in as little as five weeks. Will produce two to four litters a year, usually during warm months. Typical litters contain three to five individuals, but may have as many as eight. Typically live two to twenty-four months, but can live as long as eight years in captivity.

Other Facts

Deer mice are small rodents whose fur coloration closely resembles that of the whitetail deer. Dark at the back, these mice lighten in color at the underside and legs. They measure approximately six inches from nose to tail. The tail and body of the deer mouse are approximately the same length. Their tails are brown at the tip and white near the base. The deer mouse's ears are large, round and almost hairless. Their eyes are also comparatively large.

Although they also invade homes, deer mice are prominent in rural areas with weeds, tall grass and plentiful vegetation. Deer mice create burrows and tunnel systems, which are much simpler than those created by other species. They use dry grass, weed stems, fur and feathers to construct their nests.

Deer mice may appear harmless, but they are known carriers of dangerous diseases such as Hantavirus. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is transmitted when urine and feces are disturbed. Utmost care should be employed when disposing of deer mouse droppings. They should be sprayed with disinfectant before sweeping them up.