Picture of a deer mouse for identification

Description

Deer mice are some of the most abundant and adaptable creatures in North America. They are common in rural areas all across the United States and are similar in appearance to common house mice, with which they are often confused. Deer mice are responsible for causing structural damage, thwarting crop and orchard seeding efforts, contaminating food sources, and spreading harmful diseases.

Appearance

The small mice are considered particularly cute due to their large eyes and ears. Their bodies usually grow between 2 and 3 inches long, and their tails are of similar length. Deer mice are usually covered with tan or grayish fur and they have white bellies. However, their coloration does vary depending on their geographic location.

Habitat

As resilient and adaptable rodents, deer mice can be found in nearly every environment in North America. Forests, woodlands, grassy plains, deserts, boreal forests, and even the arctic tundra serve as homes to deer mice. They build burrows in hollow logs, rock crevices, or in the abandoned burrows of other small animals. As social creatures, deer mice sometimes share their dens with up to a dozen family members.

Entry

Are deer mice known to enter homes or yards?
Although the creatures are shy and timid, they will occasionally enter homes during cold seasons. Abandoned or vacant cabins and similar structures make suitable nesting sites for deer mice, which like to burrow into furniture and cabinets. Yards or fields with seeds, grains, and easily accessible garden vegetables may also entice the rodents.

Damage

Do deer mice harm people or property?
When deer mice find their way inside buildings, they damage furniture, cushions, and appliances bychewing though these materials to make burrows. They can cause short circuits and even electrical fires when they gnaw on wires. When gathering soft materials for their dens, the mice rip up insulation. The grain-based diets of deer mice lead them to scavenge seeds from nurseries and orchards, and they can have a detrimental effect on re-seeding efforts in deforested areas. Deer mice also enter gardens and feed on agricultural crops, such as avocados, corn, alfalfa, melons, and almonds. Finally, they carry dangerous diseases such as hantavirus, leptospirosis, plague, salmonellosis, tularemia, Lyme disease, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

Control and Safety

To keep unwanted mice out of homes, seal possible points of entry around the exterior of buildings. This includes any cracks, gaps, or holes a quarter of an inch or larger in diameter. Chimneys and fireplaces should also be sealed when not in use. Trimming overgrown shrubs, removing brush piles, and mowing tall grass effectively makes yards less attractive to deer mice. Additionally, food inside the house should be stored in rodent-proof containers to avoid contamination.

Trapping and Removal

Although commercially available traps can be useful in controlling rodent populations, deer mice are clever and adaptable animals that often require a more integrated management approach. Residents should contact Critter Control wildlife removal experts as they are well-trained and fully equipped to deal with nuisance deer mice infestations.