Photo by: Team Flyers
Species: Deer Mouse
Scientific name: Peromyscus maniculatus
Description: This little rodent ranges in length from 14-22 cm. It has protruding black eyes, large ears, long whiskers and a pointed nose, and long bicoloured tail (same colour contrast as their body). The deer mouse has brownish grey fur on top, with a light (whitish) underside, including their feet. Their name is due to their resemblance of white-tailed deer colour patterns.
Habitat: These mice can be found in a wide variety of habitats including grasslands, forests, and wetlands. They are also commonly found new human-built structures, where they have plenty of food and a warm place to sleep. Deer mouse dens differ depending on the habitat they are found in. In meadows they will nest in small burrows or on raised ground, in forested areas they make a nest in a hollow log or under debris. These mice will also make nests in rock crevices and many types of man-made structures. Deer mice will only use nests for a short period of time, before moving onto another nest due to their lack of “cleaning”.
Breeding: Deer mice breed from early spring to late summer (March-October). Females will have multiple litters during their breeding season, with an average of 4-5 babies in the litter. Baby mice will stay in the den until approximately 20-25 days before they will venture out with their mom. Young are completely weaned at 3-5 weeks of age and will leave to set up their own dens. Females are sexually mature at 35 days, with males maturing 10 days later.
Diet: This mouse feeds most often on seeds but will also eat fruits, grasses, insects, nesting birds and eggs. They will use their cheek pouches to transport food back to their burrows and stash it for later.
Threats to species: As a small mammal, this mouse is a common prey species to a number of predators including coyotes, raptors (e.g., American kestrel, red-tailed hawk, long eared owl, etc) and other predators.
Threats to humans: The deer mouse is a known carrier of Hanta Virus. Hanta virus is contracted through urine/feces of the mouse, being bitten by an infect mouse, contact with broken skin. Hanta virus causes a serious lung disease called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). The chances of contracting this virus are low, but can be fatal if not treated.
Fun facts: Deer mice are avid swimmers.
Deer mice can find their burrows after being moved more than a kilometer away.
Eder, Tamara, and Kennedy, Gregory. 2011. Mammals of Canada. Lorne Pine Publishing. Edmonton, Alberta.
Ministry of health and long term care http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/disease/hanta.aspx