You will more likely to find deer mice in Asheville – much less likely in Raleigh
The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) has big eyes and big ears. Its head and body are about 2 - 3 inches long, and the tail another 2 - 3 inches in length. Its upper body ranges from gray to reddish brown, depending on its age. The underbelly is white and the tail has sharply defined white sides.
The white footed mouse looks very similar to the deer mouse. The white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is hard to distinguish from the deer mouse. The head and body together are about four inches long. The tail is normally shorter than its body (about 2 - 4 inches long). Topside, its fur ranges from pale brown to reddish brown, while its underside and feet are white.
Usually, the deer mouse likes woodlands, but also turns up in desert areas. White footed mice prefer wooded and brushy areas, although sometimes it will live in more open ground.
Both the deer mouse and white footed mouse will frequently enter homes, garages, sheds and occasionally stored RV’s and other infrequently used vehicles during the colder months.
What makes the white-footed and deer mice more of a concern than the house mouse is they are primary carriers of hantavirus – which causes hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS). This virus is transmitted primarily by the inhalation of dust particles contaminated with urine and/or feces from infected white footed or deer mice.
Control for the deer mice or white footed mice are same as for the house mouse, with sanitation, harborage elimination and mouse – proofing the building. Use of baited snap traps, rodenticides in locked tamper resistant stations, and glue boards are all effective in eliminating present populations.
Practicing some minimal safety precautions is prudent:
- When in confined areas with urine, droppings, and /or dead mice wear a respirator equipped with HEPA filters.
- Wear rubber or plastic gloves when handling mice or traps.
- Treat dead mice with a disinfectant before handling and or use the inverted bag technique.
- Disinfect any droppings before removal. Vacuums are not recommended.