White Footed Mice And Deer Mice Both Inhabit Residential Areas, But Which Species Is More Commonly Found Infesting Homes?
A decade ago, scientists were surprised to learn that deer mice and white-footed mice share the same habitat, as both of these species often appear together within neighborhoods in the Poconos. This may not seem like a big deal to many people, but similar animal species almost never inhabit the same ecological niche; instead, when two similar species appear within one local area, one species will outcompete, and ultimately displace, the other species. For example, both Norway rats and black rats are non-native species that arrived in North America at roughly the same time, but since these two animals are closely related species within the Rattus genus, the Norway rat quickly displaced the brown rat to become the dominant rat species on the continent. However, such competition does not seem to take place among deer mice and white-footed mice, as scientific surveys have found that these two mice coexist in every area of Pennsylvania, with the exception of the southeastern corner where deer mice are absent. While the house mouse is the most common rodent pest encountered within homes in nearly all 50 states, deer mice and white-footed mice are the two most abundant mouse species in Pennsylvania, and they are considered the primary vectors for Hantavirus.
In Pennsylvania, white-footed mice tend to invade homes more frequently than deer mice, especially in the north, but both of these species are well known for invading homes during the fall and winter in order to establish warm shelter and secure food sources. It is hard to tell deer mice and white-footed mice apart, as they are both between 3 ½ and 4 ½ inches in length (not including the tail) with white patches of fur on the underside of their otherwise brown-haired bodies. However, deer mice are widely considered to be cuter than white-footed mice on account of their larger eyes and ears. When compared to white-footed mice, deer mice have longer tails that end in a brown and white patch of fur. The white-footed mouse’s tail is shorter than its body and their fur color tends to be more reddish-brown as opposed to the greyish-brown fur color of deer mice.
Has your home ever been infested with deer mice?
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