The deer mouse is a small rodent with a wide range of habitats. It is found in many areas and is ubiquitous in the Pennsylvania, New Jersey area. Its name was derived from the resemblance it has in fur coloration to white-tailed deer. These mice can cause considerable damage to homes while searching for food and building nests. Deer mice are also known to spread deadly disease.
Deer mice can grow to be five to eight inches long, They average 3" to 4” inches in length and a tail of equal size. Deer mice generally have a tawny brown backside and a white belly, a tail that is dark on top and white underneath, and white legs. They have large black eyes, thin ears, and long, thin tails.
Being omnivorous, the deer mouse will typically consume a wide variety of foods. They eat mature and immature insects, fruits, grains, fungi, flowers, invertebrates like worms and snails, and nuts. All rodents have sharp incisors that help them gnaw through seeds and nuts, as well as through the shells of insects like beetles. Deer mice will create a cache of food in a nearby hole or cavity to help them survive the winter.
Deer mice prefer the natural cavities made inside trees, but will build their nests anywhere they can find suitable nest-building material such as fur, dried grass, fibers, feathers, etc. This also includes forests, cultivated fields, brush lands, and quite often in the autumn, deer mice enter homes and other buildings seeking shelter from the colder weather. They will often take up residence in the garage, attic, shed, or inside the walls of the building.
PROBLEMS WITH DEER MICE
As with most rodents, deer mice are capable of causing a number of problems in homes and office buildings due to gnawing, damaging or destroying many items including mattresses, furniture, documents, insulation, and clothing. They also gnaw through electrical wires which create possible fire hazards. Deer mice searching for food inside often contaminate both human and pet food by spreading life-threatening disease.
Deer mice are nocturnal, and become most active at twilight. During the winter months, they travel under the snow and not on top of it, and are sometimes severely restricted to the nest. The chief cause of mortality for deer mice is winter starvation. They are excellent swimmers and climbers, and can leap when they feel threatened. Females produce 2-4 litters every year, giving birth to an average of 5-6 young with each litter. After just one to two months, the young deer mouse becomes capable of reproducing. The average deer mouse lives to be 1-2 ½ years old.
Deer mice are responsible for two serious diseases that affect humans - hantavirus and Lyme disease. A person with Lyme disease will experience flu-like symptoms, a skin rash, and might even develop arthritis. Hantavirus is especially serious because one out of two people who contract this disease die. There is no known cure. This disease is spread via mouse droppings, urine, feces, and saliva. Inhalation of dust containing these excretions can cause the disease to develop.
SIGNS OF A DEER MOUSE INFESTATION
Most infestations occur in the fall and winter months as the mice look for food and shelter.
• Chewed openings in various locations such as under cabinets, into cardboard boxes, in storage bins, and in walls. • Droppings on the floor, under the sink, and inside drawers. • They can be heard running in ceilings or between walls. They make scratching, rustling, and squeaking noises. • Piles of gnawed material gathered near a suspected nesting place. • The presence of a musky odor. • Family pets are overly excited. It’s possible the pet has honed in on the mouse nest.
The first step in preventing a deer mouse infestation is a clean, pest-free environment . Some helpful tips are provided here:
• Blockade or eliminate all openings where a mouse can enter the home or building. All openings that are ¼” or larger should be sealed or plugged with caulking or steel wool. • Keep all areas of the home free of trash including food crumbs. Poor sanitation attracts mice in droves. • Keep garbage pickup maintained throughout the year. Make sure the bins are sealed so rodents can’t get inside. • Keep all food, including both pet and human, sealed tightly. Regularly inspect food and pet areas for signs of an infestation. • Keep wood piles away from the home or building. • Trim brush and other foliage so it does not touch the home or building.
DEER MOUSE CONTROL
Determining the difference between a mouse and a rat is a homeowner’s main dilemma where extermination is concerned. That is because species identification can play a crucial role in successfully eliminating a rodent problem.
If you suspect a rodent control issue, call the professional team of licensed exterminators at SafeGuard Pest Control, LLC today. We can determine if you have a mouse or rat problem in your Yardley home or office, and then proceed to implementing the best, most effective treatments.