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House Mice vs. Deer Mice: How Can I Tell Them Apart and Keep Them Out of My Home?

Head to your local pet store and you’ll likely see lots of small, furry creatures, including gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets, and – you guessed it – mice!

While tiny mice might look pretty cute through the glass at the pet store, seeing one in your home can be frightening. Not only are they creepy – they can damage your furniture and often carry diseases. One common disease that mice carry can even be fatal, so it’s important for you to keep them out of your home.

Two of the most common types of mice here in Maryland are deer mice and house mice. So, if you spot a mouse in your home, there’s a good chance that it’s one of these two. To help you with rodent identification and removal, our Maryland rodent control team has put together this guide. Check it out:


How to Identify a House Mouse

Characteristics of House Mice

House mice can be gray, light brown, or black, and their bellies are lighter in color than the rest of their bodies. A fully grown house mouse can be anywhere from 2.5 to 3.2 inches long.

Unlike other kinds of mice, house mice have hair on their tails. They also have small, beady eyes and large ears that allow them to hear higher frequencies than humans. Their sense of smell is superb too, so the smell of food in your home is sure to attract them.

Ideal Habitat for House Mice

These rodents enjoy living in woodlands, grassy areas like fields, and dark areas that keep them safe from the elements (like piles of debris in or around your home!). They are curious creatures that enjoy exploring new territory, but because they’re mostly active at night, you’re unlikely to see one in the middle of the day.

Why House Mice are Dangerous

House mice can bring small bugs (fleas and lice, for example) into your home, causing an even bigger pest problem for you and your family. Worse than that, they can carry salmonella and other bacteria that cause harmful diseases or damage your home’s insulation and drywall.


How to Identify a Deer Mouse

Characteristics of Deer Mice

Perhaps the most distinguishable trait of deer mice is their large, dark eyes, which are much bigger in size than the eyes of house mice. Deer mice also have big ears and white bellies, and their tails are usually hairless. Their backs are typically brown in color, but can also be black or grey.

If you spot an adult deer mouse, its body will likely be anywhere from 3 to 4 inches long, with its tail adding an additional 2 to 5 inches. Because of their large ears and eyes, these mice have both good vision and hearing. Since they’re nocturnal, you’ll likely only see one scurrying around your house at night – during the day, they like to hide out in their nests.

Habitat of Deer Mice

Deer mice prefer woodlands over wetlands. They often live in hollow trees or in nests underground.

However, during the winter months, deer mice may make their way into your home as a means of avoiding the cold weather. Since they aren’t social animals, they’ll likely make their nest somewhere out of your way, but that doesn’t mean they won’t pose a threat to you and your household.

Why Deer Mice are Dangerous

Yes, deer mice are small and reclusive, but you still need to get rid of them immediately if you find them in your home. They can carry viruses and bacteria that cause dangerous diseases in humans, including Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome and Lyme disease.

The scary part about this is that you don’t have to come into direct contact with deer mice to get these diseases from them – you could get sick simply from touching a mouse’s saliva or waste.

And they don’t just pose a threat to your health – since they chew on upholstery and electrical wiring, they could damage your furniture or even cause a fire in your home.


3 Ways to Keep Mice Out of Your Home

Now that we’ve talked about mouse identification and the dangers of rodent infestation, let’s discuss a few strategies for keeping the rodents away.

1. Seal any cracks or entrances

A mouse can easily find its way into your home through a crack in the wall or the foundation. They also enter through gaps in windows.

So, inspect your foundation, walls, windows, and seal off any possible entry points. Remember not to leave your doors open – even a couple of seconds is enough time for a rodent to enter your home!

2. Make sure your home is clean

Mice like to make their homes in piles of clutter inside or outside of your home. As far as your home’s exterior, you’ll need to clean your yard, making sure to not leave wood piles laying around. Here’s what you can do to clean your home’s interior and keep mice away:

  • Store clothes properly – If you’re the kind of person who leaves laundry all over the floor, you might be creating a home for mice inside your clothes! If mice have decided to live in a pile of your clothes, you’ll probably notice little bite marks on various garments. To avoid this problem, store your clothes in tightly sealed boxes or hang them up.
  • Dispose of paper properly – Mice like to make their nests in magazines, newspapers, and similar items, so avoid creating large stacks of paper in your home.
  • Dispose of old furniture – If you have an old piece of furniture in your garage or basement, you have a perfect home for a mouse. Get rid of any unused furniture or store it in a place unlikely to be infested by mice.

And, of course, you’ll want to store all of your food in tightly-sealed containers and avoid leaving food out in your home. Many types of mice have an excellent sense of smell, and the food will draw them in.

3. Call a Maryland rodent control team.

If you try to catch a mouse yourself, you may catch a harmful disease. So, if you’ve spotted a mouse in your home, it’s best to leave your rodent problem in the hands of trusted professionals.

Our Maryland rodent control team can get rid of your mouse problem and keep pests from coming back in the future.

If you have a mouse problem, we’d love to help. Contact us today!