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Field Mouse 101: Facts and Tips to Get Rid of Field Mice

July 3, 2016
Field Mouse looking at the camera

Living in the countryside has its benefits, but mice surly isn’t one of them. To make matters worse, you’re likely dealing with a field mouse and not a house mouse if you live in a rural area. While both species have similar behaviors and characteristics, there are differences in their appearances and taste in food.

Knowing the enemy is key if you want to stop the infestation. Let’s get to know the field mouse – and some effective ways to get rid of them.

What Does a Field Mouse Look Like?

Field mouse on white background.Field mouse is just another nickname for the deer mouse, or Peromyscus Maniculatus. These critters have a golden brown or reddish brown coat with white feet and chest.

The tail is bi-colored and long with the field mouse vs house mouse, with a tail length of 2.5” on average. Field mice weigh around 1/2 to 1 ounce, and have a small body and head. They’re a bit smaller than the average house mouse, and have big, protruding eyes.

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Their ears are sparsely furred, and most span four inches in length.

Field Mice Facts

  • Lifespan: 2 years.
  • Breeding Season: Year-round when indoors; Spring and fall when outdoors.
  • Reproduction: 2-4 litters of 4 pups per year with a 20-day gestation period.
  • Habitat: Southeastern United States in rural areas.
  • Nests: No more than 30 feet from food source.
  • Feeding: Nocturnal creatures; feeding 30 minutes after sunset and just before sunrise.
  • Droppings: 1/4” in length; dark in color; pointed ends.

Because they’re rarely found in urban areas and typically try to avoid people, you may not see field mice in your house until the infestation has progressed.

What Do Field Mice Eat?


Mouse on a corn stalk.

You know what a field mouse looks like, where they live and how often they reproduce, but you’re missing one key important piece of information: what they eat.

If you know what field mice like to eat, you can eliminate the food source from your home and use it as a way to lure the rodent into a trap.

What do field mice like to eat? Field mice are omnivorous, so this list is not exhaustive by any means:

  • Small fruits
  • Seeds
  • Berries
  • Caterpillars
  • Beetles
  • Grasshoppers
  • Underground fungus
  • Leafhoppers

Because field mice love seeds, berries and fruits, they can be a nuisance to farmers. It’s not uncommon for them to infiltrate food storage facilities, which can lead to costly damage.

If you have field mice in your home, they’re probably after your tasty supply of seeds or grains. But they may also be after any insects in your home. In fact, these rodents prefer to chow down on bugs and other insects, so a field mice invasion may also be a sign that you have an insect problem, too.

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The Difference between Field Mice and Field Rats


Mouse and rat in different colors.

While you may know what field mice look like, it can still be difficult to determine whether you’re dealing with a mouse or a rat. Oftentimes, they leave similar droppings, and if you happen to catch a glimpse of these elusive creatures, it may be hard to accurately judge its size.

Rats are generally bigger than mice. They’re medium or large in size with longer tails that are scaly and hairless. They also tend to have different color coats that are gray, white, black or brown. The size, weight and tail appearance are the three major differences between rats and mice.

Field mice also have bi-colored tails, which is something that rats do not have.

If you have yet to actually see the rodents invading your home, it can be a challenge to determine which type you’re dealing with. Pay attention to areas where there’s evidence of damage and a higher concentration of droppings.

FYI: rat droppings are double the size of mouse droppings. The average mouse dropping is 1/4” in length, while rat droppings are about 1/2” in length.

Like mice, rats like to eat berries and seeds, but they also have a taste for meat, eggs and vegetables. If someone is munching on vegetables or fruit on your counters, there’s a good chance you may be dealing with a rat and not a mouse.

How to Get Rid Of Field Mice?

You now know for sure that you’re dealing with field mice. What’s the next step? How do you get rid of them?

1. Set a Trap

Snap trap with a mouse.

Traps are one of the most effective ways to get rid of all types of mice. There are several types of traps available, including:

  • Snap Trap: These are the traps most people are familiar with. The bait sits on a pressure switch, and when the mouse steps on the switch to take the bait, it triggers the kill bar, which snaps in the opposite direction to contact the mouse’s neck. If properly set, a snap trap kills mice instantly.
  • Electronic Trap: These traps are easy to set, and kill mice through electrocution. Once the mouse enters the trap to take the bait, the device sends an electric shock that kills the mouse in seconds.
  • Live Trap: A live trap catches the mouse, but doesn’t actually kill it. The mouse is lured in by the bait, and once it’s inside the cage, it triggers the closing of the front door. The mouse is locked inside, but isn’t killed. While this is a humane way to get rid of mice, it’s important to check on these traps frequently, so the mice don’t die of starvation or dehydration. Also, it’s important to release the mice at least three miles away from your home to prevent them from coming back.

2. Hire an Exterminator

If you have a serious infestation or you just can’t get a hold on your mouse problem, you may need to call in an exterminator.

Exterminators are trained professionals with the tools and knowledge to pinpoint where the mice are coming from, and take steps to remove the nest or eliminate the mice.

3. Seal Up Entryways

Once you’ve eliminated all of the mice in your home, it’s time to seal up any and all possible entryways to prevent a new infestation.

Seal up any holes, cracks or gaps you can find both inside and outside your home. Mice can fit through a crack as small as 1/4”, so it’s important to seal even the tiniest of openings.

While tedious, sealing up these entryways is worth the effort as it will also prevent other critters and insects from getting into your home.

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