ABOUT THE DEER MOUSE
Deer mice are common to Warminster and found throughout most of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Despite their small size, deer mice are capable of wreaking havoc on a household or business. As they are carriers of the hantavirus, a professional pest control company should be used when dealing with a deer mouse infestation.
The deer mouse features a gray to reddish-brown back and white underbelly. It has white feet and a long tail that is white on the underside and darker on top. A mature deer mouse weighs less than one ounce and is approximately four to eight inches long. Its pointy nose and large, black eyes are distinctive, as are its large ears, which have little fur. Their bodies are long and sleek, with hind limbs that are shorter than the forelimbs. .
Any and all seeds are favorites for the deer mouse. In fact, where larger populations of this rodent are present, they are known to have prevented forests from re-seeding by consuming all of the seeds that are naturally dropped by trees and plants. Similarly, they can be destructive to seeds in residential gardens and to crop fields on farms.
Though they are considered granivorous, they will eat other things like insects and fruit. Flowers, nuts and green vegetation are also consumed if available. They will eat the seeds that fall from a birdfeeder, and they will make the most of any dog or cat food that is left outside overnight. If they can gain access, they will feast on grain that is stored in houses, barns and sheds. The deer mouse will often prepare for the winter by caching food in a safe place. This cache may be located in or near their nest, but the species has been known to cache food in another location that they consider safe.
The deer mouse is highly adaptable, and can survive virtually anywhere from the mountains to the desert, they prefer prairies, pastures and meadows. Forested areas are popular as well.
Because the deer mouse prefers these wilder areas, it is not common to see it in residential or commercial areas, unless those areas are found close to parks, crops or natural spaces. Still, deer mice have been located living in garages, sheds, vacation homes and in other structures that aren't necessarily occupied by humans on a regular basis. On rare occasions they also are trapped in attics or basements of inhabited homes.
When the deer mouse finds a place to live, it constructs a nest that is shaped like a cup. Materials used to build the nest generally include feathers, fur and shredded plant fibers. When items like paper, upholstery and furniture stuffing are available, these may also be used.
PROBLEMS WITH DEER MICE
Large populations of deer mice have been known to prevent forests from regenerating thanks to their voracious appetite for seeds. They are a particular scourge in agricultural areas where they may cause severe damage to crops. Residential gardeners also may be plagued by the deer mouse. Planting seeds for a vegetable or flower garden can prove to be problematic when determined deer mice are present. Because they also have an appetite for flowers, fruits and vegetables, all sorts of gardens are not safe from an infestation.
While deer mice may certainly present a nuisance in the garden, the real hazard presented by these rodents is to human health. They are known carriers of the hantavirus. Accordingly, people may be exposed to a deadly disease when they enter a space that is occupied by deer mice. This makes the elimination of the species from human-inhabited structures imperative.
Like other rodents, the deer mouse is nocturnal. This means that they are most active at night, which is when they do the vast majority of their feeding and food gathering. Deer mice tend to be solitary. Nonetheless, it is common for territory of animal to overlap the territory of another animal. This only happens when the two deer mice are of the opposite sex; never when they are the same gender. Home ranges are generally a bit more than an acre in size. Deer mice break their solitary habits for the breeding season or when temperatures drop to a dangerous degree, when several mice may huddle together in a single nest.
Deer mice generally avoid human contact as they prefer wild areas. Still, their penchant for building nests in garages, sheds and other structures will sometimes lead to a confrontation between the two species.
The primary health issue associated with deer mice is the hantavirus. That is because they are known carriers of the Sin Nombre hantavirus. An infected deer mouse transmits the virus in their droppings, urine and saliva. When humans breathe air that is contaminated with the virus, they may also become infected. This serious respiratory disease can prove fatal if it is not promptly and appropriately treated.
Additionally, deer mice are capable of spreading Lyme disease. A person with Lyme disease will experience flu-like symptoms, a skin rash, and might even develop arthritis.
SIGNS OF A DEER MOUSE INFESTATION
Provided below are typical indications of a deer mouse presence:
• Visual sightings of deer mice
• Cup-shaped nests
• Gnawed items
Homes and businesses should take the following measures in helping to prevent problems with deer mice:
• Seal cracks and voids with caulk
• Place boards or screens over larger holes and openings
• Ensure good drainage around foundations
• Remove collected garbage and clutter to eliminate hiding places
• Provide sanitary conditions in places where deer mice might otherwise hide
DEER MOUSE CONTROL
Controlling deer mice is virtually impossible without professional assistance. Mature deer mice are capable of producing several litters each year, which makes their population difficult to control without expert knowledge. Warminster home and business owners who have seen signs of deer mice should consult an experienced pest control provider.