Range and Habitat
The range is continent-wide, from Alaska to southern Mexico,
except for the south-eastern U.S. Mixed and mature forest with
sparse ground cover with fallen foliage and rip fruits harbour
the largest populations of deer mice. Deer mice build round or
cup-shaped nests from shredded plant fibres, fur, feathers under
logs, stumps, rocks in the abandoned dens of other mammals but
prefer natural hollows of tress.
Food and Feeding Behaviour
Deer mice are omnivorous and use its sharp incisors to gnaw
through the hard coats of seeds and the exoskeleton of beetles.
Small invertebrates such as insects, earthworms, and snails form
an important part of the summer diet. Fungi, fruit, and even
decaying flesh are other foods. Deer mice store food such as
seeds in particular, in holes in the ground, in tree cavities,
and even in bird nests, storing up to 0.6 L (1 pt) in each place
for later use. Regardless of autumn fat deposition and food
hoarding, winter starvation is a chief cause of deer mice dying.
Activity and Movement
Deer mice are nocturnal and are most active at twilight. In
winter, activity takes place mostly under snow rather than on
its surface with severe cold limiting travel to the vicinity of
the nest, or at least restricts activity to the nest for a few
days. Deer mice climb well, can swim, and may forage in shallow
water. The usual means of movement is walking or running, but
when chased, deer mice leap.
The deer mouse breeding season is from late March through to
October and each female produces 2-4 litters. After a gestation
period of 21-37 days a female gives birth to 3-11 young. The new
born mice pups are naked, pink, blind, and each weighs about 1.8
g (0.06 oz). The pups eyes open at 14 days, and they disperse up
to 183 meters (600 ft) to create their own home ranges soon
after being weaned at 21-28 days. Young deer mice become
sexually matured at 35-60 days, and females may produce litters
by the end of their first summer. Death of young deer mice is
high, and even adults rarely live more that 1 to 2 half years.
All predators of small mammals prey on deer mice. Some examples
are hawks, owls, snakes, short-tailed shrews, foxes, minks,
weasels, bobcats and coyotes.
Social System - During the reproductive season, faithful pairs
may live in the same nest or the female may drive her companion
away, caring for the young unassisted. In some cases, the male
stays with older young while the female moves to a new nest to
give birth to the next litter. Though normally solitary except
for the breeding season, as many as 15 individuals may share one
nest during severe cold spells. Adults are inactive and occupy
small home ranges which average 0.5 hectares (1.25 acres) for
males and 0.3 hectares (0.75 acres) for females. Home ranges of
opposite sexes may overlap, but not those of the same sex.
Communication - Deer mice communicate with visual signals using
posture, tactile such as mutual grooming, chemical and vocal
signals. Vocal signals include shrieks, squeaks, trills, and
sharp buzzing. A deer mouse that is disturbed may stamp its
front feet rapidly, and vibrate the tail to produce a drumming
A mouse can be annoying where mice can be a bigger problem!
Getting rid of mice can be done in many ways such as the use of
traps that kill or catch and poisons. Controlling mice in and
around your home must be taken seriously as they can introduce
illnesses to your family as well as transfer fleas to pets.