How to Deal with Deer Mice

The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) north American native rodent, often called the North American deermouse

Mice are the most common mammal in the United States. They are literally everywhere. Chances are, you have lived with and around mice your whole life, and you simply haven’t noticed. 

Many homeowners have had to deal with a mice infestation at some point. One of the most common mice in the US is the deer mouse. 

If you are a Twin Cities resident and you suspect you have a deer mice infestation in your home, contact the Environmental Pest Management. We use environmentally friendly means to rid you of your unwanted pests. 

If you are unsure what exactly a deer mouse is, just keep reading. We will tell you all you need to know about this unwanted pest. 

The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) north American native rodent, often called the North American deermouse

What does a deer mouse look like?

Deer mice are round and slender. They range in size from 3 to 4 in length. Their tails are covered with fine hairs and are usually roughly the same size as their bodies. 

They have a pointed nose and large black eyes. Their ears are larger than regular house mice, and they are covered with fur. 

Deer mice have a distinctive two-toned colored body. The topside of their bodies is brownish or reddish, and they have a white underbelly with white feet. 

The name deer mouse comes both from their coloring and the fact that they are excellent runners and jumpers. They are much more agile than normal house mice. 

Where do deer mice live?

Deer mice are nocturnal. They usually are most active at night, but they can be found out during the day. They are sneaky and adept at hiding, so you might not even notice them when they are a few feet from you.

Their preferred habitats are woodlands, grasslands, cultivated fields, alpine regions, or brushlands. You can primarily find them all through the western portions of North America, the Great Lakes region. But they can be found throughout the US, though. 

They generally gravitate to areas with lots of grass or brush cover. The most commonly enter human homes during the colder months when food is scarce. You can find them in homes all year round, though. 

When they do make their way inside, you can find them in your attic, crawl spaces, basement, or garage. Think of areas that are less busy and populated.

They can also make their nests outside around your home. Ideal nesting places include hollow tree logs, piles of debris, or old and rotting fence posts. 

Deer mice can push their bodies through dime-sized holes. Any small opening or crack in your home is basically a welcome mat for mice. 

Furthermore, they are very athletic. Mice can jump up to a foot in the air. Your countertops are not safe from these tiny gymnasts. 

What about their nests?

Deer mice make their nests out of soft, padded, and insulating materials like-

  • Moss
  • Fur
  • Dried grass
  • Leaves feathers
  • Paper
  • Weeds

Each nest is inhabited by one family group. Each family consists of a set of parents and their litter of babies. Each family of deer mice usually makes several nests a year.

When one nest becomes too soiled with waste and feces, the family simply abandons it and starts over with a new one. They also store caches of food near their nests for easy access. 

The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) north American native rodent, often called the North American deermouse

What do deer mice eat?

Deer mice are omnivores. They feed on a wide range of items-

  • Insects
  • Small invertebrates
  • Seeds
  • Fruits
  • Grains
  • Fungi
  • Flowers
  • Nuts
  • Berries

 The deer mice gather their food and store them in various larders positioned around their nests.

How long do deer mice live?

While deer mice can live up to five years in captivity, in the wild, they have a life expectancy of about one year. This shorter life span can be explained by a large number of natural predators for deer mice. Some of these predators include-

  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Snakes
  • Owls
  • Hawks
  • Many other species of predatory birds

In the absence of predators, deer mice populations would explode and completely take over their environment. 

What about reproduction?

When they reach five or six weeks old, they become fully sexually mature. Each female can have as many as eleven litters every year. Each litter can contain up to nine babies. 

If food is abundant, the litters are usually larger. The first five or six litters of a deer mouses life will be the most abundant, and litter size generally declines with each subsequent litter. 

The babies typically weigh one to two grams at birth. They are weaned in their fourth week, and about a week later, they are able to have babies of their own. 

Are deer mice dangerous?

While not exactly dangerous, deer mice infestations can be problematic. They are messy and destructive to property, and their food caches may attract other pests to your home. 

Beyond the mess, deer mice can also bring diseases. Deer mice are known carriers of the hantavirus, a pulmonary syndrome with symptoms that include headache, fever, and severe respiratory distress. 

The virus is transmitted in the urine, saliva, and feces of the deer mice. You can also contract it by handling infected deer mice carcasses. 

The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) north American native rodent, often called the North American deermouse

How do I keep them out?

Prevention is key. It is easier to keep the deer mice out of your house than to remove them once they take up residence. 

To prevent deer mice from entering your home, make sure to seal any cracks or holes larger than a dime. Prime places for mice entry include vents, drain pipes, and gutters. 

Your home is most vulnerable to an infestation in the colder, winter months. Check out our suggestions for winterizing your home against rodents. 

Some signs of a deer infestation include visible droppings, gnaw and claw marks, and nest or mice sightings. 

If you believe you have a mice infestation, don’t try to deal with it on your own. If you are a Twin Cities resident, contact the Environmental Pest Management team. We will take care of your pests without hurting your home or the environment in the process.

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