White Footed and Deer Mice in Edison, Somerset, Lakewood


MiceIn the United States, there are fifteen native species of mice belonging to the Peromyscus genus. Among them, the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) and the white-footed mouse are the most widespread. All Peromyscus species typically have white feet, often with white undersides and brownish upper surfaces. Their tails are relatively long, sometimes matching the length of their head and body. While the deer mouse and certain other species exhibit a clear demarcation between their brownish back and white belly, their tails also show distinct bicolored patterns. Distinguishing between these species can be challenging, even for experts.

Compared to house mice, white-footed and deer mice typically have larger eyes and ears. Many people find them more visually appealing than house mice, and they lack the characteristic musky odor associated with the latter. Despite differences in appearance, all Peromyscus species present similar challenges and necessitate comparable solutions.


The deer mouse is found throughout most of North America. The white-footed mouse is found throughout the United States east of the Rocky Mountains except in parts of the Southeast.


The deer mouse thrives across a broad spectrum of habitats, ranging from forests to grasslands, making it the most prevalent mammal across North America.

Similarly, the white-footed mouse enjoys widespread distribution but shows a preference for wooded or brushy environments, although it can also be encountered in open areas.

Other species of Peromyscus exhibit more specific habitat preferences. For instance, the cactus mouse inhabits low deserts with sandy soil, scattered vegetation, and rocky outcrops, while the brush mouse thrives in chaparral areas within semidesert regions, often favoring rocky habitats.

Food Habits

White-footed and deer mice are primarily seed eaters. Frequently they will feed on seeds, nuts, acorns, and other similar items that are available. They also consume fruits, insects and insect larvae, fungi, and possibly some green vegetation. They often store quantities of food near their nest sites, particularly in the fall when seeds, nuts, or acorns are abundant.

General Biology, Reproduction, and Behavior

White-footed and deer mice are primarily nocturnal, typically occupying a home range ranging from 1/3 to 4 acres or more. In warmer climates, reproduction may occur year-round, while in cooler regions, breeding typically happens from spring to fall with a reduction during summer.

Litter sizes vary from 1 to 8 offspring, with females producing 2 to 4 or more litters annually, depending on species and climate. During the breeding season, females come into heat every fifth day until impregnated, with a gestation period usually lasting 21 to 23 days.

Mated pairs usually stay together during the breeding season, sometimes taking new mates in spring if both survive winter. Nests, consisting of various fibrous materials, are often built underground or in aboveground sites such as hollow logs or abandoned structures.

White-footed mice are arboreal, spending significant time in trees, while deer mice often nest underground. In the mid-1990s, deer mice were identified as potential reservoirs of hantavirus, linked to respiratory distress syndrome in humans, transmitted through contact with infected rodent excreta.

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Damage and Damage Identification

The principal problem caused by white-footed and deer mice is their tendency to enter homes, cabins, and other structures that are not rodent-proof. Here they build nests, store food, and can cause considerable damage to upholstered furniture, mattresses, clothing, paper, or other materials that they find suitable for their nest-building activities. Nests, droppings, and other signs left by these mice are similar to those of house mice. White-footed and deer mice have a greater tendency to cache food supplies, such as acorns, seeds, or nuts, than do house mice. White-footed and deer mice are uncommon in urban or suburban residential areas unless there is considerable open space (fields, parks) nearby.

Both white-footed and deer mice occasionally dig up and consume newly planted seeds in gardens, flowerbeds, and field borders. Their excellent sense of smell makes them highly efficient at locating seeds.

Legal Status

White-footed and deer mice are considered native, nongame mammals and receive whatever protection may be afforded such species under state or local laws. It is usually permissible to control them when necessary but first check with your state wildlife agency. Doned bird or squirrel nests, adding a protective “roof” of twigs and other materials to completely enclose a bird’s nest. Like deer mice, they nest at or just below ground level or in buildings.

Damage Prevention and Control Methods


Rodent-proof construction will exclude mice from buildings and other structures. Use hardware cloth (1/4-inch [0.6 cm] mesh) or similar materials to exclude mice from garden seedbeds.

Habitat Modification

Store food items left in cabins or other infrequently used buildings in rodent-proof containers. Store furniture cushions, drawers, and other items in infrequently used buildings in ways that reduce nesting sites.


Not effective.


Naphthalene (moth balls or flakes) may be effective in confined spaces.


Anticoagulants. Zinc phosphide.


None are registered.


Snap traps. Box-(Sherman) type traps. Automatic multiple-catch traps.

Other Methods

Alternative feeding: Experiments suggest that application of sunflower seed may significantly reduce consumption of conifer seed in forest reseeding operations, although the tests have not been followed to regeneration.

Schedule a Consultation

If deer mice, white footed mice, or another type of rodent has entered your home, you need a pest control professional like Cowleys Pest Services. Our services are available throughout New Jersey including Lakewood, Somerset, Edison, Toms River, Brick, Bridgewater, Piscataway, Old Bridge, Middletown, Princeton Junction and nearby. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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