Many folks wonder just what types of mice are living in their house. Did you know there are over 1,000 species of mice that have been identified in the world? From the common field mouse to the ferocious grasshopper mouse. This classification of rodents is one of the most successful mammals on earth due to their ability to adapt to their changing environment.
However, there are just a few kinds of mice that are routinely found living and breeding around your home and garden areas. Here we will talk about the four most common mouse species you will find in your home, yard, and garden.
The Common House Mouse
Latin name: mus musculus
The first kind of mouse you may find in your house is, of course, the common house mouse. The house mouse is gray in color and approximately 3 to 4 inches long with a tail about the same length as their body. They have tiny hands and feet with larger ears – which they use to listen for approaching danger (such as yourself).
The house mouse is active all year round, so you may find them in your house at any time of year. They are nibblers and love to root around in your pantry for cereal, rice, and bread. If you see chew marks in the corners of your cereal boxes, you may just have an infestation of house mice.
Building their nests in dark corners of your home, house mice like to be 10 to 30 feet from their food or water source. This is why you will likely find them behind your kitchen cabinets, appliances or pantry. They also like to take shelter in the attic as long as it is close enough to a food source.
The North American Deer Mouse
Latin name: Peromyscus maniculatus
The next little guy on our list is the deer mouse. Deer mice are about the same size as the house mouse at approximately 3 to 4 inches long. Their bodies can range in color from gray to brown or even dark red. But they all have a white underbelly, white feet, and a long tail. Deer mice can sometimes be mistaken for the white-footed mouse.
Very common around the wooded border of our homes, the deer mouse can be found almost everywhere in North America except the hottest humid south-eastern states. You will find them living in tree hollows, brush piles, old stumps, abandoned cars or your outdoor shed. In the colder months, they may take shelter inside your home.
Deer mice will eat both plants and insects depending on the season. Some of their favorite foods include insects, spiders, and caterpillars, seeds, fruit, and leaves.
Generally breeding during the warmer months outdoors, they can also reproduce during winter as long as there is an abundant source of food. Indoors they may breed all year round when food is easily available. They are good climbers and may be found in trees.
Latin name: Apodemus sylvaticus
As the name suggests, the wood mouse is most often found in wooded areas. They also like tall grasses, lush gardens, farms and any area with heavier vegetation. With yellowish-brown fur, they have a light belly and bigger ears than the house mouse. The head and body of the wood mouse average between 3 to 4 inches long with a slightly shorter tail. Head to tail they measure about 6.5 inches
Their favorite food is tree seeds found, including sycamore, oak, and beech. This makes sense since their primary habitat is in the woods. They will also eat fruit, roots, insects, and snails. When resources are low, the wood mouse will venture indoors making itself comfortable in our homes and garages.
They are good climbers and will scale trees to collect bedding material, food or scout the area. Scaling up the sides of your property to find an entry point is no problem for the wood mouse.
Wood mice are prey to our house cats, snakes, owls, and hawks. An interesting fact about the wood mouse is they can actually shed their tail when caught by a predator – and no it doesn’t grow back!
Western Harvest Mouse
Latin name: Reithrodontomys megalotis
Found in the western half of the United States, the harvest mouse is a brownish-red color with hints of yellow and a lighter belly. Sometimes there is a light stripe going down its back. Smaller in size than the other rodents on our list the harvest mouse is between 2-3 inches long with a tail about the same size. Head to tail they measure about 4-6 inches
The harvest mouse is most at home in areas with tall grasses. Nests are built above or below ground typically near denser vegetable that provides protection from predators. They are also burrowing rodents and can build a tunnel system through their habitat or use the existing underground paths from other animals.
They will eat both plants and insets and but most often enjoy a diet of grain, seeds, and grasses. Outdoor cats are known to prey on the harvest mouse as they make their homes at ground level.
White Footed Mouse
Latin name: Peromyscus leucopus
The white-footed mouse is gray or brown with a white belly and feet. The body size is 3.5 to 4 inches long with a tail about the same size or slightly shorter. They are found throughout North America but are more common in the Eastern States. This species is known to carry the hantavirus as well as contribute to the spread of Lyme disease.
The white-footed mouse is wary of people, but are occasionally found in out of the way areas of our homes, sheds, and garages. They come inside seeking warmth and shelter from the outdoor elements, especially in the winter months. The white-footed mice enjoy a diet of primarily of seeds and insects.
What About Field Mice?
FIeld mice is more of a common name instead of a specific kind of mouse. The term is used to generally describe a mouse living outdoors near populated areas. When someone uses the term field mouse, they are typically referring to a deer or wood mice.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Types of Mice Near Our Homes
Now that you’ve learned about the different types of mice that are seen around our homes, we’ll try to answer the most asked questions when identifying the correct species.
How do I tell the difference between a deer mouse & a house mouse?
Easy – look at their belly! The easiest way to tell these two species apart is by the color. House mice are generally dark gray all over, whereas the deer mouse has a more defined white under-belly.
What species of mice carry the Hantavirus?
Deer mice and the white-footed mouse are both known to be common carriers of the Hantavirus.
What types of mice are brown?
If you see a brown mouse around your yard, it may be a harvest or wood mouse. Our regular house mice can also have a brownish-gray coloring so it could be any of these three on our list.
Do you know which kind of mouse is living in your house?
Use our easy identification chart below to see if you can figure out what type of mouse you have.