Although a house mouse and a deer mouse are both roughly the same size, and have similar features, there are some notable differences between these two mouse species, especially in regards to how they interact with humans, and what threats they pose. Understanding the differences helps educated pest professionals implement targeted pest protocols and provide effective control.
COMMON HOUSE MOUSE (MUS MUSCULUS)
As the name "house mouse" suggests, these creatures prefer to live inside man-made structures and dwell with humans--although some forms do live in the wild. As one of the most widely distributed and successful mammals in the world, it is a creature both home and business owners alike are likely to come in contact with sooner or later.
From the tip of its nose to the end of its tail, a common house mouse measures between 65 to 95 mm long. It has dull fur that ranges from grey, to light brown, to black, with lighter underbelly fur, and a tail that is about the same length as its body. The tail of a house mouse is scalier and thicker than the tail of other species of mice, and is mostly hairless. The commensal forms of the common house mouse (species that actually live with humans) tend to have longer tails and are larger and darker than house mice that live exclusively in nature.
This is a mouse that prefers urban areas. It is more at home scavenging in warehouses than running around in an open field, where birds can swoop down to snatch it up. It is also a species of mice that has grown accustomed to acquiring food in an urban environment.
A house mouse will generally only travel about 30 feet from its nest, so you are likely to find these mice living near food and water resources. If there is a hole in the wall of your pantry or food storage room, it is likely that these mice will be inside the wall.
House mice forage in dirty places, such as dumpsters, trash heaps, and trash cans, so they are more likely to spread harmful bacteria when they get into food packages or walk around on dishes, silverware, or food prep surfaces. They are also able to transmit diseases to humans through the discharge of feces and urine.
DEER MOUSE (PEROMYSCUS MANICULATUS)
Though they are similar in size and somewhat similar in appearance, a deer mouse is in a completely different family than the house mouse. It is also less inclined to dwell with humans. But, under certain circumstances, it will.
The deer mouse gets its name from the fact that its coloration resembles that of a white-tailed deer. Its fur is gray or tawny brown on its top, and white on its belly. It ranges from 50 mm to 72 mm in body length, with a tail the same length. Unlike the hairless tail of a house mouse, a deer mouse's tail is furry. And, deer mice are generally thought of as "cuter" than house mice, with their two-toned fur, large ears, and big eyes.
This mouse is found throughout most of Canada and the U.S., and mostly in rural or semi-rural areas. A deer mouse prefers to make its nests around tree roots, under logs or boards, stumps, sheds or garages, in stacks of firewood, and inside the burrows or the nests of other creatures. They are also known for making homes out of abandoned vehicles or farm equipment. If a deer mouse gets into a vehicle that has remained parked awhile, it can cause extensive damage by chewing into upholstery and/or electrical wiring within the vehicle. This mouse typically makes its nest out of twigs, stems, leaves, and roots, and then lines the nest with fur or feathers. This mouse can travel as much as an acre away from its nest to find food. But, when it establishes itself inside a house, it will stay close to food, like the house mouse.
While a deer mouse is less likely to spread harmful bacteria, especially if it is in a rural setting, it can. But, the threat this rodent is most known for is spreading a strain of hantavirus to humans, which can lead to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. A mask or respirator should always be used when removing the nests of this mouse species.
If you live in our Tennessee service area, and you need help removing and sealing mice out of your property, reach out to us. At Russell's Pest Control, we know how to tell these two animals apart, and what is needed to directly control both of them.
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