Body is up to two inches in
This species has several closely related cousins
that are colored similarly. All species are bicolored -- the top is light brown to red-brown and the feet and
underbelly are pure white.
Unlike the house mouse, the deer mouse is not
found in cities but is associated more with rural areas and buildings located in or near wooded areas. It does
not commonly invade homes, but in rare instances one or more deer mice may invade a particular building. The
deer mouse is a medically important species because it carries the hantavirus. This virus can result in
serious, often fatal, respiratory disease in humans. Cases of hantavirus are rare -- only about 300-400 cases
have been documented in the past nine years, and most have been in the Western United States. The hantavirus
can be contracted in a number of ways: by handling dead, infected deer mouse carcasses; by breathing in
mouse-urine-laden dust particles that contain the virus; or by inhaling dust from areas of accumulated deer
mouse droppings. You should avoid any area where infected deer mice have frequented unless wearing proper
protective gear. Deer mice prefer the outdoors where they nest in tree holes, hollow logs, under logs and in
piles of stones, branches or logs. If inside, they are most often found in areas of a home where the least
human activity occurs, such as attics, garages, basements and crawl spaces
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.
Omnivorous, but prefers seeds, nuts, small fruits
and berries, insects, centipedes, and the subterranean fungus Endogone.
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.
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.