Aptly named for its ability to jump and bound with grace, the deer mouse is a distant relative of the common brown rat and is likely to be found jumping freely through country fields. They are prolific nesting creatures but may also burrow extensively due to their abundance of energy. This can cause them to be somewhat of a pest to home owners. In cooler climates, they may come inside and nest in attics, basements or garages. Finding a deer mouse in a wall void is not uncommon.
Deer mice are not known to be aggressive or pose any real threat or nuisance to humans other than their unwelcome nesting and burrowing habits. Unlike other mice, they do not carry disease, and while shy, are sociable creatures. They are largely a country rodent and prefer to remain as such. If you find one in your home, it may have come inside by accident and would appreciate being returned back outside.
Deer Mouse Identification
The deer mouse is well suited to its name. It shares a similar bi-color scheme and speckled pattern as that of a deer. It has a tanned back with a partial white front and feet. They can leap and bound with grace and are said to look like a deer when in motion. They are very small mice, comparatively smaller to other mice and are rarely more a few inches in length. They have beady, black eyes and furry miniature ears.
Complete with a short, thin tail, the deer mouse looks like an even smaller field mouse and is often misidentified as many other similar mice who all look much alike and share many of the same characteristics. This species however have a very distinct bi-colored tail, in which the upper section is a dark gray, the underneath pale pink, and is noted for its smaller size and ability to jump.
Deer Mouse Habitat
Deer mice are nesting creatures. They are also country dwellers and as such, may build mouse nests in hollowed-out trees, under rocks, in piles of wood or any other area which offers protection and a small amount of space to maneuver. In the home, they tend to avoid humans, being a shy creature, but these mice can be found in basements, attics, garages or other quieter areas of the home or garden. In this setting, they may use household items to build their nests or bring in materials from outside.
They are one of the highest populated species in North Dakota and one of the most abundant mammals in the American Midwest. They tend to live anywhere except wetlands and are commonly found in rural areas throughout Canada and America. Deer mice may also burrow like rabbits and build intricate systems underground. They do not hibernate, unlike many other rodents, and as such, can burrow and nest extensively throughout the year to seek protection from the elements.
Deer Mouse Life Cycle
Deer mice mate every month of the year and are considered prolific breeders. They are nocturnal, which allows for their mating to take place at night. They will breed for every year of their adult life, which may be up to six years, and during that time can give birth to hundreds of offspring. The gestational period is close to four weeks, after which the female will become pregnant once again; this can even be on the same day she gives birth, which creates a very fast cycle of proliferation.
Female Deer mice typically produce eleven litters per year and can produce upwards of fifty offspring during that time. Because they are mammals, they give birth to fully functional pups who are able to open their eyes within a few hours. They will quickly reach maturity within weeks and are independent of their mother at that time.
Female Deer mice may become sexually active within as little as five weeks from birth. Males may be up to a quarter of an inch larger than females but are also considered small within their species.
Deer Mouse and Humans
The deer mouse is favored over laboratory rats in certain case studies. They are particularly beneficial when studying genetics, chromosomes and other biological or evolutionary cases where their fur in particular is effective when noting the changes and adaptability in conjunction with these situations. They have also contributed greatly to the research of Repetitive Strain Injury but are rarely used for any other medical practices aside from these conditions.
Deer Mouse Control
Deer mice can be controlled much like any other mice. They can quickly grow in numbers if left untreated and are more likely to come into your home in winter or cooler months. Its common to find mice in attics and garages. Most pest control agencies will remove deer mice for you but you can easily manage them at home. You may want to consider a cleaning services as sanitation is an essential part of this process, but you can also use stronger household items to ensure feces and urine are removed.
Because deer mice are nocturnal, you should look for them after dark to try and find where the nests and burrows are. Once you locate the burrow, you can assess the level of damage and plan your next course of action. Always wear protective gloves when working in a contaminated area and wash your hands after.
Mouse traps: These work by luring the Deer mouse in with bait and then snapping shut to kill it quickly. You can bait mice with household food items, though they prefer a vegetarian diet, or nuts, berries, other fruits and cheeses.
Preventive methods for the Deer mouse include simplifying landscape designs, by keeping grass low, piles of wood cleared away and generally removing anything that could become grounds for nesting or easy burrowing. Screen on doors and windows may also reduce the risk of deer mice from coming inside. They can jump very high, and as such, even second story windows should be sealed, especially if there are tree branches nearby.
Deer Mouse Zoology
The deer mouse belongs largely to the animalia kingdom. They also belong to the chordata phylum and are classed as mammalia, like many other mice. They are also rodents, and as such, categorized as part of the order of the rodentia family which also includes rats, moles and other related animals. Their subfamily is the neotominae and they have their own genus, the peromyscus.
They are distinguished by their tail, which is shorter and bi-colored in comparison to other mice. The upper side is a dark brown white underneath is pale pink. This is a very defined line between the two colors and is unique to the deer mouse.