Deer mice are commonly encountered in rural and suburban homes near fields and wooded areas as well as cottages, outbuildings and sheds. In homes they often end up in garages and attics. They are usually referred to as deer mice or white-footed mice.
Of all the mice that are encountered in homes, these are the ones that most closely fit the picture of mice that are ‘cute’. They are bi-coloured, being a buff gray to reddish brown above and white below. Their tails are also distinctly bi-coloured and covered with short hairs. The have long whiskers, large ears and eyes and a very pointed nose. Deer mice are nocturnal. They are good climbers which is why they often end up in attics or ceilings. They feed on insects, nuts, seeds and small fruits. They love to eat bird seed and pet foods which are often readily available in the home. They enter structures in the fall looking for winter harbourge. Cottages and parked RV’s are ideal as they are seldom used over the winter. Extensive damage can be done to upholstery, seating material etc.
In our area, deer mice are mostly a nuisance pest, causing problems similar to other mice. However, in Western and especially South Western North America they are carriers of hantavirus which can be a serious viral illness of humans with a 40-50% mortality rate. The virus is transmitted primarily by the inhalation of dust particles contaminated by urine and feces from infected mice. Great care must be taken in these areas when cleaning up a deer mouse infestation.