Deer mice is an umbrella term for rodents in the genus Peromyscus. Two species of deer mice are common in the U.S namely the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) and the white-footed mouse (Permomyscus leucopus). Because deer mice frequently occur in structures, it is important that pest control operators (PCOs) and wildlife control operators (WCOs) become familiar with the biology of these mice. Thus, this blog entry will be a refresher on deer mice. The primary source of this post will be gleaned from an article by Gary W. Witmer and Rachael S. Moulton. 2012. Deer Mice (Peromyscus spp.) Biology, Damage and Management: A Review. Vertebrate Pest Conference 25:213-219.
Deer mice range in size from 15-30 g (0.5-1.06 oz) and have a total length (total length includes the tail) of 130-200mm (5.12-7.87 in). They may be distinguished from the house mouse (Mus musculus) by their bi-colored coat and tail and larger eyes and ears.
Deer mice occur in a variety of habitats including areas along the coast, brushlands, grasslands, deserts, woods, alpine, and tropical. They can nest in below ground (though neither are strong burrowers) and above-ground cavities. Nests are lined with grass, feathers, and/or shredded cloth. They can move rather broadly with some research showing they travel up to 100 meters (109.4 yards) in a beet field. Home ranges can vary between 0.1 to 1.0 ha (0.25-2.2 acres). Deer mice are omnivores feeding on seeds, insects, fungi, bones, eggs, and nuts.
Females breed primarily between March and October but in warmer climates can breed in other months. Litter sizes range from 1-9 pups. Deer mice tolerate each other, but females in estrus will defend territories.
Deer mice are associated with two key diseases, Hantavirus and Lyme disease so technicians should visit the CDC.gov to learn more about both of these infectious diseases.
Control of deer mice mirrors that of house mice. Habitat modification, exclusion, traps, and toxicants labeled for deer mice, are standard controls. Technicians are admonished not to assume toxicants will resolve infestations if alternative and preferred foods are available.Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACE, is the owner of Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. He helps people restore their balance with nature through publishing, training, consulting, and the internet. He has published numerous articles in trade and academic publications along with several books (http://kingsdivinity.academia.edu/StephenMVantassel). He is a sought after speaker and trainer. Copyright All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.