What Do Deer Mice Look Like?
A deer mouse has a gray or tawny brown coat, a pointed nose, rounded ears, and large black eyes. Their bodies are two to three inches in length, and their tails are dark on top and pale on the bottom. The pests’ white underbellies, pink paws, and short forelimbs also make them easy to identify.
How Can I Tell if I Have a Deer Mouse Problem?
Deer mice forage at night and keep close to the ground. They avoid predators by nesting in vacant burrows, brush piles, and sheds or cabins. Seeing a deer mouse or a nest is a sign of infestation. Other indicators include:
- Chewed Furniture – Deer mice gnaw on mattresses, couches, chairs, and paper materials to file their teeth down or create nests.
- Feces –Small, quarter-inch droppings with tapered ends found under sinks or inside cupboards may point to a deer mouse problem.
- Noises – These small rodents scurry through wall voids and spaces under floorboards. You might hear scratching or squeaking sounds as they move around.
- Damaged or Contaminated Goods – Boxed items in pantries, stored grain, and food warehouses can all supply meals for hungry deer mice.
How Do Deer Mice Get Inside Homes and Businesses?
Deer mouse infestations often begin in late fall as they start searching for warm places to stay when temperatures drop. The pests build nests in woodpiles, bushes, old tires, and even abandoned cars. Crumbs, cereal products, seeds, and animal feed also entice deer mice to enter houses and other structures.
The rodents’ tiny bodies can squeeze through gaps the size of a dime, giving them easy access to basements, garages, and loading docks. Vents, pipes, crawl spaces, and cracks in building foundations are also potential entryways.
Are Deer Mice Dangerous?
The deer mouse is a vector for hantavirus, which can cause a serious respiratory illness. Transmission occurs when you breathe in airborne particles of dried urine and feces or handle soiled surfaces before touching your nose or mouth. Early symptoms include fever, muscle aches, and stomach problems.
Hantavirus exposure often occurs when people clean out seasonal cabins or spend the night in a hiking shelter. Additionally, warehouse, farm, and construction workers, whose jobs put them in areas prone to infestation, are at risk. Deer mice also damage products, ruin stored goods, and may even destroy file boxes and documents to make a nest.
How Can I Prevent Deer Mouse Infestations?
Look for gaps in foundations and openings around pipes. Regular inspections and repairs block deer mice and other pests from getting inside. Keep food in sealed containers, trim overgrown shrubs, and move woodpiles away from buildings. If you need help with a deer mouse infestation in your home or business, call Waltham Pest Services to speak with a professional.