North American Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)

Close-up of the face of a tiny grey mouse taking cover in a twiggy plant

North American Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus)

The deer mouse—named because the fur color pattern resembles that of a white-tailed deer—is an extremely common mammal in North America, including the U.S., Mexico and Canada. This little guy can live in so many environments that, whether it’s prairie land or alpine areas, there is no wonder there are so many of them. However, deer mice do not thrive in cold, harsh winters, like those in Grand Teton National Park. Weighing in at under an ounce and just about 3 inches long fully grown, deer mice burrows do not take up much room at all. Female mice have up to 11 pups, depending on how many previous litters there were, and they reach maturity at just 35-50 days old.

Deer mice are known to be busy and social members of the ecosystem. These tiny mammals are nocturnal and spend most of their nights climbing or swimming around to eat and gather food. Mice eat insects, fruit, flowers, seeds, and plants that they collect daily in quantities as big as half a liter. Because they are transporting seeds and caching them, mycorrhizal fungi spores depend on this process to survive. Mice also help out the top of the food chain by being food for birds, snakes, and many mammals. They are still a primary carrier of the fatal hantavirus, and humans are at risk of contracting it, so be careful if you see a nest or burrow—check out this website about hantavirus information below.

Written by Celia Karim
PC: J. Maughn on Flickr

Hantavirus info: