Peromyscus maniculatus, Deer Mouse

Commonly known as the Deer Mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus is native to North America. It is prevalent in all areas except the far north and southeast United States. They can also be found in parts of South America. Peromyscus is the name used for most deer mice. There are sixty-six subspecies of Peromyscus maniculatus, and they are known for being closely related to the White-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus).  It is possible to distinguish between the two by looking at the multi colored tail of the deer mouse.

The deer mouse is a small rodent, with a body length of only three or four inches. This does not include the long tail. They have fine fur, and can vary in color from black to white. All deer mice, however, have white feet and white undersides. These mice are nocturnal and are very active, even during winter. They have very good sight and hearing due to the large size of their eyes and ears.

Deer mice prefer to live in high places, like large hollow trees. They will also make their nests underground in burrows, or will live in brush, stumps, and logs. Nesting is done mostly alone, except when it is done with a member of the opposite sex. If a habitat overlaps, it is usually with members of the opposite sex, and interactions between the two mice, surprisingly, occur often. These mice inhabit a large number of places including forests, grasslands, woodlands, and brushy areas. Deer mice do not make paths like other rodents, but they will travel to the nearest tree.

Female deer mice do not have a breeding season, and are able to mate throughout the year. However, most mating occurs between the months of March and October. The time of mating usually depends on the amount of food available and the location of the mice. Reproduction is frequent with the deer mouse, and they will typically have three to four litters a year. Each litter can have up to nine babies. They are born hairless and blind, but they develop quickly and are usually weaned between eighteen to twenty-four days of age. The father mouse will stay and help care for the young. Once weaned, the deer mice pups will can travel a distance of five hundred feet to make their own homes.

Being omnivorous, deer mice will eat things like fruit, seeds, fungi, and arthropods like caterpillars and spiders. They will eat whatever is available, depending on the season. During warmer months plant materials and vegetation are abundant, but the spring and summer diet of the deer mouse will also consist of insects. During the winter months, arthropods make up one fifth of their diet.

The deer mouse can live to be eight years old in captivity, but the typical life expectancy is nearly four years for males and 3.7 years for females. However, many deer mice will not live past one year. The deer mouse is an integral part of many animals’ diets. Their predators include bobcats, domestic cats, skunks, snakes, owls, coyotes, and foxes. The conservation status of Peromyscus maniculatus is of least concern.

Image Caption: Captive bred Peromyscus maniculatus (Deer Mouse). Credit: 6th Happiness/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)