Mice are extremely common pests throughout the country and the world. They not only can contaminate food and cause fire hazards by chewing through electrical wires, but mice also carry diseases that can adversely affect humans. Different types of mice are associated with different diseases, so proper identification can be helpful.
The House Mouse
The house mouse (mus musculus) is far and away the most common mouse that enters homes. House mice tend to live in close proximity to humans, and many spend their entire lives indoors.
Identification: House mice are usually gray to brown in color with a lighter underside. They range in size from approximately 5-8 inches long, including the tail. House mice have pointed noses and small eyes with a hairless, scaly tail.
Habitat: House mice and humans have lived side by side for hundreds of years, so homes, sheds, garages, and other dwellings are all common places to find them.
Diseases: House mice are known carriers of lymphocytic choriomeningitis, as well as leptospirosis. These diseases can be spread through contact with urine, feces, or saliva particles. If you have an infestation in your home, it is important that you clean it up properly and use a protective mask and gloves.
The Deer Mouse
Deer mice (peromyscus maniculatus) are not as common in homes as the house mouse, but they may find their way into homes that are in rural areas. The deer mouse is often referred to as a field mouse.
Identification: Deer mice are slightly larger than house mice, growing up to 9 inches long, including the tail. The coloring of deer mice ranges from gray to reddish-brown with white undersides. They also have a bi-colored tail with dark on top and lighter underneath. Deer mice also tend to have larger eyes than the house mouse.
Habitat: Deer mice love to live in wooded areas where there are plenty of trees and brush. Homes that border these types of places may have trouble with deer mice because they will seek shelter indoors when it gets cold.
Diseases: Deer mice are the primary carriers of hantavirus which can cause fever, muscle aches, dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath, and in some cases death. It can be spread by inhaling dust particles that have been contaminated with urine, feces, and saliva. Deer mice can also spread babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and more.
The White-footed Mouse
White-footed mice are very common in the eastern United States. They tend to be the largest of the three common mouse species.
Identification: White-footed mice are extremely close in appearance to deer mice. They are gray to reddish-brown in color with a lighter underbelly and a bi-colored tail. They have pointed noses, large eyes, and small hairs on their tails. Often the only way to tell the two species apart is through a blood test.
Habitat: The white-footed mouse is found up and down the east coast, but they can also extend into the central and SW United States. They prefer to live near forests and brushlands.
Diseases: White-footed mice are the principal reservoir for a spirochete (twisted bacterium) called borrelia burgdorferi that causes Lyme disease. When ticks feed on these mice, they can become infected and pass the bacteria onto other animals and humans. Symptoms may include fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, rashes, heart palpitations, and shooting pain in the extremities. White-footed mice can also transmit hantavirus.
As evidenced by the many diseases associated with mice in the United States, it is important to control the mouse population in and around your home. No matter what kind of mouse you are dealing with, PF Harris has the products that can help you get rid of them. Mouse trapping is an inexpensive and effective way to exterminate mice that have entered your home. We sell glue traps, snap traps, humane mouse traps, and baits. Keep your family safe and pest free with the help of PF Harris.
For more information, check out Rodents: The Ultimate Guide.