Deer Mice: Identification, Disease, Damage, and Prevention

The deer mouse, scientifically known as Peromyscus is a kind of mouse belonging from class Mammalia. Like all the other mice, it has four legs, a pair of ears, and furry body. The point due to which it is called Deer mice is because its upper body coloration matches the fur of the deer. Deer Mice’s eyes are black and are relatively bigger than those of the other mice’s. Their underbody is white in color, and the upper body coloration is sometimes reddish brown or gray while other times its fur can be black or white as well. They have identifiable white feet which are not found in other mammals of the same species.

How to Identify Deer Mice?

These White-footed mice are larger in size and have relatively bigger ears, and beaded black eyes. Their tail is two toned; that is white at the tip and darker colored on the top. Their average body length is from 11 centimeters to 28 or 29 cm. Their tails are different from other ordinary house mice as they have bicolored tails. Their jumping and running skills are very well polished; this is another reason they are called as deer mice. Deer mice are found in forest areas or grasslands or the field nearby the crops, forests, and grasslands.

Deer mice inhibit between the wood piles in the darker areas or the burrows. They are also found in the areas where there are rocks and in tree logs. They are most commonly found in the village or farm areas as already mentioned above they live in the grasslands and crops area. If these mice are found or are seen indoors, they usually hide from humans and like to maintain some distance and are located in the dark areas of the house like basements, gardens or attics.

During the winter days, deer mice do not hibernate. They seek the area which is warm enough for them to keep themselves alive. Female Deer mice built the nests which are made up of fur, weeds, and leaves, etc. deer mice search their food in the nearby areas. Deer mice are herbivore that is they are fed on the leaves or non-meaty food.

Reproduction of Deer MiceDeer Mice crawling

It is observed that deer mice’s breeding and reproduction is dependent on the climate and amount of food they are supplied with. If the climate is warmer or if it is summer time, the female mice are ready to give birth. In the winters, they usually stay in their habitats and avoid exposing themselves to the extreme colder weather. Female mice are ready to have babies when they are only six weeks old. Their gestation or development time is twenty-four days only. Maximum, female deer mice can give birth to 11 young ones each year.

A dangerous and harmful fact about the deer mice is that they carry Hantavirus. Hantavirus is hazardous and damaging to human health. Hantavirus is present in the urine or saliva of the deer mice. Hantavirus is harmful to people as it causes the respiratory disease which can result in some serious respiratory tract issue that can also cause death in some cases. Hantavirus causes a disease called as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome.

How is Hantavirus Pulmonary Disease Diagnosed

If a person is having breathing difficulties, cough and fever symptoms the doctor may ask about the past medical history and contact with rodents. The doctor may also examine the body by taking the blood test, X-Rays, and oxygen inhalation tests. A doctor and a patient will only be sure if the Hantavirus has attacked the person with the blood test reports.

Signs and Symptoms of Hantavirus in Humans

After two or three months of exposure to the rodent, the person may start developing the symptoms of Hantavirus. The symptoms of Hantavirus in humans are:

  • Fever
  • A headache and muscle cramps
  • Vomiting and abdominal cramps and bloating
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Coughs

As soon as the Hantavirus affected patient starts having the breathing issues, the patient may die within hours.

Methods of Keeping Oneself off from Hantavirus Pulmonary

Hantavirus symptoms on human

The best prevention is to keep oneself away from the rodents. Closing all the rat holes and the areas from where the deer mice can get in the house or office or the building where the humans live. Especially the areas near the agricultural fields and grasslands, the residents must keep themselves always ready to find any entrance area or way for deer mice to enter a house.

Before moving to the area where there might be the chance of the presence of deer mice, the area must be cleared and free from the rodents. If by chance the rodents (Deer Mice) are present, the doors and windows must remain open to avoid breathing the infection-causing viruses. While cleaning the surface where the rodents are present, a person must wear the latex or rubber gloves, and the gloves must be non-fabric. The area must be disinfected with the anti-bacterial cleaners and bleaches so that no trace of the virus is left in the area.

Distribution of Deer Mice

Deer mice prefer living in the area which is bushy or forest like. They are found in grasslands, holes of logs, under the piled rocks or any dark area. They are mainly found in large amounts in the North America in different states. They are widely known in North America because of the pulmonary disease caused by the hantavirus.

Damage Caused by the Deer MiceClose- up view of a Deer Mouse

One of the harms posed by these deer mice is very well known to almost everyone. They spread the Hantavirus pulmonary disease which can at times cause death. As deer mice are a herbivore, they feed on the plants and leaves but also eats the seeds and nuts. For consuming their health requirements, these mice damage the crops for obtaining the seeds. Deer mice seed predators hence the seed predation causes the damage to the crops and agricultural lands.

The growth of forests and trees are becoming less and less day by day because of the seed predication by these deer mice. They can damage the agricultural lands and can cause damage to the corn, pomegranate and almonds crops. In corn fields, the deer mice can dig down and take out the seeds beneath the soil, and they also take the tiny seedlings to feed themselves. Deer mice can also be considered as the bird predators that are they consume the eggs and shells of the birds which can also cause the effect on the bird reproduction.

Other than causing damage to the natural things, deer mice can also cause the injury to the fundamental things as well. They inhibit in the closed areas that can either me beneath the cupboard, sofa, bed and other household or office furniture and can damage the structures of these things. During the cold season in winters, deer mice seek refuge in the houses and buildings; they bring in food and dirty the surface. Their feces and urine also cause bad smell which is unpleasant for human beings.

How to Manage and Control Deer Mice? 


Constructing rodent proof houses and offices are the best ways to prevent the rodents from entering the home or office. There must be no hole or area opened more than 0.6 centimeters. Constructing the walls and floors with the material that are strong enough to defend itself from deer mice gnaws. Using wire mesh of 0.6 centimeters, or even smaller to save the newly planted seeds from the mice to eat. Any wire caps and bowls can be used to cover the fields of the crops so that these mice do not harm anything. Bamboo strawberry baskets can also be used instead of wire caps to cover the plant. Several mouse traps are available in the market to capture and kill the mice. Same preventions and measures are taken to prevent and control the Deer mice as the preventions taken to protect oneself and house or office from the typical house rats.

2. Modification of Habitat

Damage caused by the Deer mice can be reduced and even finished by lessening the holes and openings that may allow the mouse enter the house. Covering up all the holes and openings can play a vital role in preventing the mice enter a home or building as they inhibit in these holes. Removing the cushions that are padded on sofas, and make them stay separate from one another can prevent the mice from inhibiting there. As white-footed mice are excellent climbers and jumpers, they can jump in the house through the chimneys and windows. To prevent the mice enter the house, it is important to close such openings when they are not in use.

A trap for deer mouse

While cleaning the area where deer mice were once present, serious precaution must be taken to prevent the Hantavirus getting in the body through inhaling. The area must be clean and disinfected using the bleach and disinfectant. If there were any deer mice nests even before, the area must be cleared and cleaned very well. Avoiding exposure to dust is essential as Hantaviruses are present in the dust itself. Use of latex or plastic gloves, bleach, good quality disinfectants is most essentials things to be kept in mind.

3. Frightening Equipment and Repellents

There are no specific and special materials to use not prevent the deer mice from getting in the place. Using the same traditional methods like mouse traps and glue boards can be used to minimize the number of deer mice. Mice traps are used to prevent rats and mice populations from growing and developing. Best traps capture the mice by trapping the mice through showing them some food. Some seeds or plants are used as bait to capture the mice. Placing the mouse traps at least 10 feet away and close to the wall can increase the number of mice captures.

Glue boards are used to make the mice stick to the glue boards. The bait is used in this trap as well to capture the mouse. No such repellents are created or invented yet to prevent the deer mice. However, here are the reviews of top-rated repellents available on the market.

Biological Way of Controlling Deer Mice

For most of the animals, deer mice are the prey. Most of the reptiles, birds and predatory mammals consume deer mice as their food. Reptiles and mammals such as snakes, owls, bobcats, fox, etc. can consume many deer mice. It is observed that this method does not show much difference. This method is not much effective in preventing the deer mice from spreading. In fact, most of the dog sheds can also become the home for the deer mice. Cleanliness is required to prevent the mice inhibiting in the dog shed, and leftover food should be cleaned so that the mice do not have anything to eat and grow.

Poison and ToxinsKill with poison

Some of the toxic baits like Diphacinone, Brodifacoum, and Warafin are effective on the deer mice. These toxins must be used according to the given instruction about the bait on the packaging of the toxin. If the toxin or poison is placed and used by the instructions on the pack, there is ninety percent chance that the deer mice might be controlled. Many Zinc Phosphide baits are used to kill the white-footed and deer mice. Zinc phosphide kills the mice in a single dose. Using the Zinc phosphide according to the instructions on the label will lead to the positive result.


The deer mouse, breathing contaminated dust can cause the person to get in contact with the Hantavirus. There are many precautionary measures that must be taken to avoid any contact with deer mice. Different Bait Blox can be used to clean up the mice. Other than that, reservoir species can also help to prevent the mice and control them in the biological eco-friendly method. It is important to seal the holes and cracks to prevent the mice from inhibiting in the house or office.

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