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Deer Mouse

Common Name: Deer Mouse.

Scientific Name: Peromyscus Maniculatus.

What to look for?  Deer Mice have grayish-brown to reddish-brown backs. The undersides - belly and feet - have white fur. The upper surface of the tail is the same color as the back and the underside of the tail is white. The tail is approximately one-half the length of the body. The nearly hairless ears are dark brown with white edges. Deer mice have large, black, beady eyes. The head has a pointed nose with long and prominent vibrissae or whiskers. Deer Mice have shorter forelimbs than hind limbs.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? Even if you are extremely observant, it is altogether possible that you might never actually see a Deer Mouse. They are active at night, scurrying among the reeds and tall grasses around Carillon Stonegate Pond.

How big are they? The Deer Mouse can reach up to seven (7) inches in total length, including a tail that reaches over two inches in length. And they weigh about one-half (1/2) ounce.

How else do they behave? Deer Mice have keen senses of hearing, touch, smell, and vision. They communicate using tactile and visual signals such as when they groom one another or in their posture. Deer Mice use a variety of chemical signals, including marking their territories with scent and emitting pheromones. And they use a variety of squeaky vocalizations. During winter, they may enter a daily torpor - state of decreased physiological activity marked by a reduced body temperature and metabolic rate - to reduce body temperature and conserve energy.

What’s for dinner? Deer Mice are omnivores that eat a variety of plant and animal matter depending on what is available. They dine on insects, seeds, fruits, flowers, nuts, and farm plants like corn, soybeans, and wheat. A significant percentage of the gathered food may end up in their larder nests for winter consumption.

Where do they take up residence? TThe Deer Mouse may be found statewide in Illinois. It is a North American species and is distributed from the northern tree line in Alaska and Canada southward to central Mexico. It is absent from the southeastern U.S. The preferred habitats include grasslands, prairies, pastures, meadows, barren fields, and stubble fields.

When and where do they breed and nest? Deer Mice will nest in shallow burrows, constructing nests using grasses, roots, mosses, wool, thistledown, and various artificial fibers. Deer Mice breed every few during the warmer months and less frequently during the winter. Female Deer Mice may have two or more litters with an average of five (5) per litter. The gestation period is approximately one (1) month. Young are born helpless but are ready to live on their own in about four weeks.

Where do they migrate? No. Deer Mice do not hibernate. They may become dormant or torpid when the winter is especially severe.

Do they make any interesting sounds? Deer Mice use a variety of squeaky vocalizations.

Interesting Facts About Deer Mice:

  • Deer mice are a staple in the diet of a wide variety of animals. Night-hunting predators, including snakes, owls, coyotes, and various carnivorous mammals, are their biggest threat.

  • Deer mice are nocturnal and spend the day in refuges or nests.

  • They bury food in winter caches using a method called scatter hoarding and locate these caches using both memory and smell.

  • The average life span of Deer Mice is less than one (1) year.

For more information on Deer Mice and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois DNR, University of Michigan Animal Diversity, Missouri Department of Conservation, U.S. Forest Service, Penn State University Virtual Nature Trail and University of California ANR.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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