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House Mice & Deer Mice: How to Know the Difference & Keep Them Away

deer mouse in baltimore coming out of wall

Eek, you just saw a mouse in your house! Once you get over the initial shudder of disgust, you probably hopped online to see how to get rid of them. Well, the first step in getting rid of mice in your home is to identify the type.

In Maryland, there are two common types of mice you’ll find: house mice and deer mice. While in Baltimore, you’ll mostly find house mice; there could be a chance of a deer mouse in your house.

You may be thinking – aren’t mice all the same? The truth is, they aren’t! There are significant differences between house mice and deer mice that affect how you get rid of them and protect yourself from the dangers they carry.

By the end of this article, you’ll be able to identify the difference between house mice and deer mice and how to prevent them from getting into your home.

Physical Characteristics

A pointy nose, beady eyes, a tail, and big round ears are probably what you picture when you think of a mouse. While mice do share these characteristics, there are slight differences among the different types.

At first glance, you may mistake a house mouse for a deer mouse, but upon closer inspection and reading this section, you’ll know the defining physical characteristics of the two.

House Mice Characteristics

When you think of a mouse scurrying across your kitchen counters scrounging for food, you probably picture a house mouse.

House mice typically have brown or gray fur. While it’s rare, there are some black house mice out there. They also have small, black, beady eyes. They are fairly small, growing no more than five inches in length, including the tail.

One defining characteristic of house mice is the hair you can find growing on their tails.

Deer Mice Characteristics

While deer mice look very similar to house mice, there are a few significant differences. For instance, their fur is typically brown or dark gray on their heads and backs. However, it’s white on their bellies and legs.

They also have much larger eyes and bigger, rounder ears than house mice. Let’s not forget to mention that they can grow up to seven inches in length, including their hairless tail too.


As you can imagine, house mice and deer mice have different natural habitats. That doesn’t mean you can’t find both of these critters invading your Baltimore home, though.

House Mice Habitat

Their name can give you a strong hint as to where a house mouse’s natural and desired habitat is located. They find the most comfort in a house, usually living in the walls or small openings. They are attracted by warmth, especially in the winter, and access to food and water.

House mice are most commonly found in urban areas with plenty of buildings. They aren’t exclusively found in residential homes, though. They can find refuge in commercial spaces like offices and retail stores if it provides what they need.

It’s also important to note that house mice often come out of their nests at night. They prefer the dark and lack of human disruption.

Deer Mice Habitat

Deer mice are often found in more rural areas with large grassy fields. You’ll often find them hiding out in barns and pastures or homes that are located out in the country. A good rule of thumb is if you see deer in the area, there are most likely deer mice scurrying around.

While they do enjoy the outdoors, deer mice will make a home for themselves inside. This is especially common during the colder months as they try to stay warm and find a source of food.

You’ll often see deer mice scurrying about during the day as they prefer to be in their nests at night, too.

Two mice in Baltimore house eating food in a kitchen cupboard

Eating Habits

While house mice and deer mice look for the food you leave out in your house; their eating habits are quite different. Not so much in what they eat, but how they eat.

House Mice Eating Habits

If you have food lying around when you have house mice, you can count on seeing small nibbles on the edges of it. House mice will pick at any food they can find and even chew through packaging to get to what’s inside.

Don’t be surprised if you find multiple food items with traces of a mouse feast in your kitchen. They like to try different things before scurrying back to their nests.

Deer Mice Eating Habits

Unlike house mice, deer mice will gather and store the food they find. So, you won’t see bite marks in your food but could notice food missing altogether.

This information is important when you want to get rid of deer mice in your house. Rather than setting out bait that will exterminate mice when they eat it, set out traps instead. A poisoned bait, while meant for multiple mice, will usually only exterminate one deer mouse because it carries it with them.

Dangers and Diseases

Sure, mice can be pretty cute, especially when they’re found in a pet store. However, wild house and deer mice pose lethal dangers if they come into your home uninvited.

For example, they can both chew furniture and electrical wires in your home. Damaged wires could lead to a house fire threatening you, your family, and all your belongings.

House Mice Dangers

House mice are riddled with disease and can bring in even more infestations to your home. They are most known for carrying salmonella, a potentially life-threatening disease if not treated correctly.

House mice also can bring lice and fleas into your home, causing a new set of problems for you to handle.

Deer Mice Dangers

Arguably, deer mice carry more harmful diseases than house mice. They can carry and transmit Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which can be fatal if contracted. Humans can catch this disease if they inhale urine or feces from an infected deer mouse.

They can also carry Lyme disease, which is an autoimmune disease that affects the entire body. Deer mice carry other diseases, but these are the two most serious to be aware of.

How to Prevent House Mice and Deer Mice

The best way to never see a house mouse or deer mouse in your home is to take the necessary steps to prevent them from coming inside. Below are three helpful tips to keep these critters from entering your sacred home.

How to Prevent House Mice and Deer Mice

  1. Seal Holes and Entrances

    Mice are sly little creatures that can fit through the tiniest places. So, make sure to seal any holes that could act as entrances into your house that mice could climb through. Deer mice are exceptional climbers, so make sure to look in places higher up, too.

  2. Keep Your House Clean

    Food, dirty clothes, and piles of paper attract mice and bring them into your home. The best way to prevent mice from entering is to keep your home as clean as possible.
    – Don’t leave food out on the counters and pick up crumbs.
    – Don’t leave clothes in a pile on the floor.
    – Throw out piles of paper.
    – Keep things tidied up.
    – Avoid clutter around the house and garage.
    – Throw out trash.
    With these simple tips, you can decrease your chances of mice greatly!

  3. Get a Cat

    One of the most effective methods to prevent mice in your house and to get rid of them if they do find their way inside is to get a cat. Not only are they lovable and cuddly pets, but they can scare off and exterminate any mice that invade your home.

Got a Mice Problem? Call Brody Brothers Pest Control

Of course, the best way to deal with a mice problem in your Baltimore home is to call Brody Brothers Pest Control.

As the area’s leading pest control service, we will exterminate the mice scurrying around your home and posing threats to your belongings and your health. We’ll identify the type of mouse and get rid of it effectively and quickly.

Contact us today for a consultation on how we can help solve your mice problem!