Deer Mouse Control: Protect Your Home
Scientific Classification: Peromyscus maniculatus (Wagner)
One of the most abundant organisms in North America, deer mice can be found in nearly any woodland ecosystem and are prominent throughout the continent. Nocturnal and prone to staying well-hidden in their natural habitat, the pests are rarely spotted by humans. The rodents frequently travel from one nest to another, which means large infestations typically do not occur. However, deer mice carry serious diseases, as well as other vectors like fleas and ticks, that threaten the health and wellbeing of humans and pets.
What Do They Look Like?
Size: Adult deer mice grow as long as 6 to 8 inches from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail.
Color: The common name of the deer mouse actually comes from the coloration of the rodent, which resembles a white-tailed deer. Deer mice are traditionally brown on the back and white on the underbelly, legs, and tail.
Characteristics: In addition to their notably large eyes and ears, deer mice have long, thin tails and hind legs that are longer than their forelegs.
Distributed throughout North America, deer mice are found in woodlands, grasslands, alpine regions, agricultural fields, brush lands, and in manmade structures. The pests can survive at any altitude and also live in mountainous areas and on tropical islands.
What Do They Eat?
Omnivorous and adaptable, deer mice tend to be opportunistic eaters when they inhabit manmade homes and buildings. In nature, the pests target adult insects and their larvae, various invertebrates, seeds, fruits, grains, fungi, flowers, and nuts.
Female deer mice give birth to as many as 11 litters in one year. Each litter consists of anywhere from one to nine pups who reach sexual maturity after five or six weeks. The deer mouse gestation period lasts about 24 days, and females can become pregnant again shortly after giving birth.
Young deer mice are born tiny, hairless, and blind and depend on their mother for survival during their first month of life. The pests typically live a year in the wild but can survive for two or three years in captivity.
- May notice deer mouse droppings around the house.
- Look for nests made of twigs, leaves, roots, and other fibrous materials.
- Check for the greasy stains that deer mice leave on walls, windows, and other surfaces.
Problems Caused by Deer Mice
Typically, deer mice do not remain in one place long enough to cause significant property damage. However, the pests will damage upholstered furniture, mattresses, clothing, paper, and various other materials to make their nests. In addition, deer mice spread Lyme disease, which causes rashes, joint paint, and neurological issues, and Hantavirus, which causes symptoms that may include fever, aches and pains, and gastrointestinal problems.
Signs of Infestation
Deer mice generally keep to themselves. As a result, the most common signs of a deer mouse infestation rarely include actual sightings of the rodents. People are more likely to encounter droppings around the home if deer mice are present. Additionally, as the pests frequently abandon old nests to create new ones, homeowners may stumble upon empty deer mouse nests made from twigs and leaves, with moss, dried grass, rabbit fur, feathers, or a similar material on the inside for insulation.
Make deer mouse infestations less likely by locating any openings around the home that are larger than 1/4 inches and sealing the rodent-friendly entry points. Plugging the openings with steel wool can be an easy temporary solution, as deer mice can gnaw through screens, rubber, insulating foam, and similar types of barriers. Proper and diligent sanitation inside the home also helps prevent infestations.
Routine yard maintenance deters deer mice, as well. Cut overgrown shrubs and trim tree branches that hang over the roof; otherwise, mice could walk across the overhanging limbs and gain access to the house. Similarly, keep woodpiles away from the perimeter of the home and regularly clear debris from the lawn to avoid inadvertently giving pest rodents ideal places to hide.
Tips for Removal from Home
Several baits and trapping tools on the market can help remove deer mice from homes. However, if the infestation persists, or several invasions occur over a short period of time, a pest control professional should be contacted. Not only do professional removal specialists have the proper tools and knowledge to safely apply chemical control measures, they can set up personalized integrated pest management plans to limit the chances of a repeat infestation.