DEER MOUSE Peromyscus maniculatus

Size:

Body is up to two inches in length.

Color:

This species has several closely related cousins that are colored similarly. All species are bicolored — the top is light brown to red-brown and the feet and underbelly are pure white.

Behavior:

Unlike the house mouse, the deer mouse is not found in cities but is associated more with rural areas and buildings located in or near wooded areas. It does not commonly invade homes, but in rare instances one or more deer mice may invade a particular building. The deer mouse is a medically important species because it carries the Hantavirus. This virus can result in serious, often fatal, respiratory disease in humans. Cases of Hantavirus are rare – only about 300-400 cases have been documented in the past nine years, and most have been in the Western United States. The Hantavirus can be contracted in a number of ways: by handling dead, infected deer mouse carcasses; by breathing in mouse-urine-laden dust particles that contain the virus; or by inhaling dust from areas of accumulated deer mouse droppings. You should avoid any area where infected deer mice have frequented unless wearing proper protective gear.
Deer mice prefer the outdoors where they nest in tree holes, hollow logs, under logs and in piles of stones, branches or logs. If inside, they are most often found in areas of a home where the least human activity occurs, such as attics, garages, basements and crawl spaces.
If you live in an area where deer mice have been seen or could be present, it may be prudent and desirable to hire an experienced professional to control the mice. Proper precautions should be taken to minimize any possible health risk. Remember, the risk of actually encountering hantavirus-infected deer mice is very remote, but taking the following steps can minimize any potential risk:

Never sweep or vacuum mouse droppings and dust or debris in mouse activity areas.
Wear a respirator equipped with a High Efficiency Purifying Air (HEPA) filter as well as unvented protective goggles, and impermeable latex or rubber gloves.
Soak mouse droppings and dusty areas with an EPA-registered disinfectant then wipe up with paper towels. Place the soiled towels in a sealed plastic bag and dispose in an outdoor trash receptacle.
Clean protective equipment with the EPA-registered disinfectant, then again with soap and water, and allow to air dry before the next use.
Spray dead deer mice with EPA-registered disinfectant before disposal. Handle traps wearing protective latex or rubber gloves and a HEPA-equipped respirator. Try to avoid touching or handling the carcass. Dispose of the carcass in a sealed plastic bag in an outdoor trash receptacle.

HOUSE MOUSE Mus domesticus

Size:

Small, its body rarely exceeding two inches long and one ounce in weight.

Color:

Usually gray in color, but some may appear darker.

Behavior:

Few people really like rats or mice, and no one wants them in their house. Rodents live everywhere outside and could enter at any time, but fortunately, this does not occur often. Usually, most home invasions occur in the fall, not because of cooler weather, but because the seeds and plants on which rodents feed outside are gone. Rats and mice must then seek new food sources. Unfortunately, one of these sources may be your home. Mice are excellent climbers and are capable of gaining entry through holes around soffit vents and around cables entering the building, through holes in gable vent screens, and through turbine and box vents on roofs. Most garage doors on homes allow enough space for mice to fit underneath, as well.
Mice are found in almost every part of the country from urban to rural areas, and are especially prevalent in urban and suburban communities. Mice are found in buildings more often than rats because they are smaller and are able to find more available entryways into a building. Mice can fit through a crack or hole 1/4 of an inch or larger – or about the width of a pencil. Mice will make their nests in many areas in and around the home, especially in stacked firewood, stones and bricks, and piles of leaves or other debris.
The best way to avoid invasions of mice is to (1) provide as little harborage as possible that might attract rodents, and (2) seal as many holes and cracks in the outside of the home through which mice might enter. Follow these recommendations to help prevent rodents from seeking the shelter provided by your home:
Keep firewood stored as far from the home as possible and store it off the ground. During the winter, store only enough wood next to the house to burn every couple of days.
If possible, remove any piles of debris, stones, bricks, etc. If these are near the foundation of the home they serve as harborages to attract rodents. Once there, it is any easy step for rodents to enter the building itself.
Do not allow piles of leaves to accumulate next to the home’s foundation. This also serves as attractive harborage for rodents – mice in particular.
Seal any hole or crack larger than 1/4 of an inch. A good rule of thumb is that if a pencil can fit into it, a mouse could too. Large holes or cracks should be stuffed with steel wool or wire mesh before sealing with caulk or foam, otherwise rodents could chew through to enter.
Install good, thick weather-stripping on the bottom of all doors to prevent rodents from entering. The garage door may prove difficult to seal completely, so the door from the garage to the house must be sealed tightly.
The installation of one or two wind-up mousetraps in the garage can catch many mice as they enter. These traps can catch up to 15 mice with one setting. Ask your service professional for more information.

NORWAY RAT Rattus norvegicus

Size:

Larger rodents that may grow to a body length of 10 to 12 inches. Seldom will a rat weigh more than one pound.

Color:

Can vary from gray to brown to black.

Behavior:

Few people really like rats or mice, and no one wants them in their house. Rodents live everywhere outside and could enter at any time, but fortunately, this does not occur often. Usually, most home invasions occur in the fall, not because of cooler weather, but because the seeds and plants on which rodents feed outside are gone. Rats and mice must then seek new food sources. Unfortunately, one of these sources may be your home. Rats are excellent climbers and are capable of gaining entry through holes around soffit vents and around cables entering the building, through holes in gable vent screens, and through turbine and box vents on roofs. Many garage doors on homes allow enough space for rats to fit underneath, as well.
Outside, rats live in fields, wooded areas, vacant lots, farms, and just about anywhere people have buildings. Rats are seldom a problem in homes except in urban and rural areas. This is due in large part to their size, since rats need a hole about the size of a quarter in order to gain entry into a building. Rats however, may find harborage in many areas around the home – especially in stacked firewood, stones and bricks, and piles of leaves or other debris.
The best way to avoid invasions of rats is to (1) provide as little harborage as possible that might attract rodents, and (2) seal as many holes and cracks in the outside of the home as possible through which rats might enter. The following recommendations should be followed to help prevent rats from seeking the food and shelter provided by your home:
Keep firewood stored as far from the home as possible and store it off the ground. During the winter, store only enough wood next to the house to burn every couple of days.
If possible, remove any piles of debris, stones, bricks, etc. If these are near the foundation of the home they serve as harborages to attract rodents. Once there, it is any easy step for rodents to enter the building itself.
Seal any hole or crack larger than 1/4 of an inch. Large holes or cracks should be stuffed with steel wool or wire mesh before sealing with caulk or foam, otherwise rodents could chew through to enter.
Install a good, thick weatherstrip on the bottom of all doors to prevent rodents from entering. The garage door may prove difficult to seal completely, so the door from the garage to the house must be sealed tightly.

PACK RAT Neotoma spp.

Size:

Medium-sized rodents whose bodies measure about eight inches, with the tail slightly shorter than the head and body combined.

Color:

Varies in color from cinnamon to brown, gray, yellowish gray, or creamy buff, depending on the species and specimen. The underside is clearly more lightly colored than the upper part of the rat.

Behavior:

Pack rats get their name from their habit of taking small, bright or shiny objects and hoarding them in their nests. They will take beer can tabs, bottle caps, bits of foil, coins, and jewelry just to name a few items. Often, sticks or nuts the rat was carrying at the time are left at the site where the shiny object was acquired, thus the additional nickname of “trade” rat. They are mainly nocturnal creatures but may be active during the day. After establishing themselves within a building, pack rats will feed on foods within the building but will continue to forage for most of their food outdoors.
Pack rats occur throughout the United States except in a few states around the Great Lakes and the northeastern United States. These rats tend to be more of a problem in buildings in the western part of the country. Most species of pack rats are excellent climbers and some are actually semi-arboreal in preference — meaning they will nest in trees. Others are ground nesters and will dig burrows in which to live. Numerous rats may occupy a single den.
The best ways to avoid invasions of pack rats are to (1) provide as little harborage as possible that might attract rodents, and (2) seal as many holes and cracks in the outside of the home through which rats might enter. Follow these recommendations to help prevent pack rats from seeking the food and shelter provided by your home:
Keep firewood stored as far from the home as possible and store it off the ground. During the winter, store only enough wood next to the house to burn every couple of days.
If possible, remove any piles of debris, stones, bricks, etc. If these are near the foundation of the home they serve as harborages to attract rodents. Once there, it is an easy step for rodents to enter the building itself.
Seal any hole or crack larger than 1/4 of an inch. Large holes or cracks should be stuffed with steel wool or wire mesh before sealing with caulk or foam, otherwise rodents could chew through to enter.
Install a good, thick weather-stripping on the bottom of all doors to prevent rodents from entering. The garage door may prove difficult to seal completely, so the door from the garage to the house must be sealed tightly.
Although not a significant health threat, pack rats are associated with a number of diseases that infect humans, including plague and lyme disease. For this reason, dead rats should never be handled using bare hands, and care should be taken to avoid their ectoparasites, especially fleas and ticks.

ROOF RAT Rattus rattus

Size:

Larger rodents that may grow to a body length of 10 to 12 inches. Seldom will a rat weigh more than one pound.

Color:

Can vary from gray to brown to black.

Behavior:

Few people really like rats or mice, and no one wants them in their house. Rodents live everywhere outside and could enter at any time, but fortunately, this does not occur often. Usually, most home invasions occur in the fall, not because of cooler weather, but because the seeds and plants on which rodents feed outside are gone. Rats and mice must then seek new food sources. Unfortunately, one of these sources may be your home. Rats are excellent climbers and are capable of gaining entry through holes around soffit vents and around cables entering the building, through holes in gable vent screens, and through turbine and box vents on roofs. Many garage doors on homes allow enough space for rats to fit underneath, as well.
Outside, rats live in fields, wooded areas, vacant lots, farms, and just about anywhere people have buildings. Rats are seldom a problem in homes except in urban and rural areas. This is due in large part to their size, since rats need a hole about the size of a quarter in order to gain entry into a building. Rats however, may find harborage in many areas around the home – especially in stacked firewood, stones and bricks, and piles of leaves or other debris.
The best way to avoid invasions of rats is to (1) provide as little harborage as possible that might attract rodents, and (2) seal as many holes and cracks in the outside of the home as possible through which rats might enter. The following recommendations should be followed to help prevent rats from seeking the food and shelter provided by your home:
Keep firewood stored as far from the home as possible and store it off the ground. During the winter, store only enough wood next to the house to burn every couple of days.
If possible, remove any piles of debris, stones, bricks, etc. If these are near the foundation of the home they serve as harborages to attract rodents. Once there, it is any easy step for rodents to enter the building itself.
Seal any hole or crack larger than 1/4 of an inch. Large holes or cracks should be stuffed with steel wool or wire mesh before sealing with caulk or foam, otherwise rodents could chew through to enter.
Install a good, thick weatherstrip on the bottom of all doors to prevent rodents from entering. The garage door may prove difficult to seal completely, so the door from the garage to the house must be sealed tightly.

VOLES Microtus spp.

Size:

Voles are larger than the house mouse with adults measuring up to five inches in head and body length. The tail, however, is shorter in relation to the body — a vole’s tail ranges from one and three-fourth to two and three-fourth inches in length.

Color:

Blackish-brown to grayish-brown depending on the species.

Behavior:

Voles are also known as meadow mice and may be called orchard mice or field mice. Because they are poor climbers, voles are almost always associated with the lower levels of buildings. Outdoors, voles establish a well-defined system of runways that usually tunnel beneath vegetation. Sometimes the runways will be in the ground just below the surface. Voles also are known to girdle the trunks of fruit trees which often results in the death of the tree.
Widely spread across the country, voles primarily live outdoors, preferring dense grassy areas such as meadows or fields. For that reason, homes and buildings these rodents might infest tend to be near such fields. They may also be found invading stables and barns.
Voles may invade homes, but unlike the house mouse, they do not establish breeding populations indoors. The best ways to avoid invasions of mice is to (1) provide as little harborage as possible that might attract rodents, and (2) seal as many holes and cracks in the outside of the home through which mice might enter. The following recommendations should be followed to help prevent rodents from seeking the shelter provided by your home:
Keep firewood stored as far from the home as possible and store it off the ground. During the winter, store only enough wood next to the house to burn every couple of days.
If possible, remove any piles of debris, stones, bricks, etc. If these are near the foundation of the home they serve as harborages to attract rodents. Once there, it is any easy step for rodents to enter the building itself.
Do not allow piles of leaves to accumulate next to the homes foundation. This also serves as attractive harborage for rodents – mice in particular.
Seal any hole or crack larger than 1/4 of an inch. A good rule of thumb is that if a pencil can fit into it, a mouse could too. Large holes or cracks should be stuffed with steel wool or wire mesh before sealing with caulk or foam, otherwise rodents could chew through to enter.
Install good, thick weather-stripping on the bottom of all doors to prevent rodents from entering. The garage door may prove difficult to seal completely, so the door from the garage to the house must be sealed tightly.

WHITE-FOOTED MOUSE Peromyscus leucopis

Size:

Body is up to two inches in length.

Color:

This species has several closely related cousins that are colored similarly. All species are bicolored — the top is light brown to red-brown and the feet and underbelly are pure white.

Behavior:

Unlike the house mouse, the white-footed mouse is not found in cities but is associated more with rural areas and buildings located in or near wooded areas. It does not commonly invade homes, but on occasion, one or more white-footed mice may invade a particular building. The white-footed mouse is a medically important species because it is a key host for blacklegged ticks (Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus), which carry and transmit Lyme disease. In at least one case in New York, this species was also documented with Hantavirus. A closely related cousin to this species, the deer mouse, is the primary carrier of Hantavirus.
White-footed mice prefer the outdoors where they nest in tree holes, hollow logs, under logs, and in piles of stones, branches or logs. If inside, they are most often found in areas where the least human activity occurs, such as attics, garages, basements and crawl spaces.
If you live in an area where white-footed mice have been seen or could be present, it may be prudent and desirable to hire an experienced professional to control the mice. Remember, the risk of actually encountering hantavirus-infected white-footed mice is very remote, but taking the following steps can minimize any potential health risk:
Never sweep or vacuum mouse droppings and dust or debris in mouse activity areas.
Wear a respirator equipped with a High Efficiency Purifying Air (HEPA) filter as well as unvented protective goggles, and impermeable latex or rubber gloves.
Soak mouse droppings and dusty areas with an EPA-registered disinfectant then wipe up with paper towels. Place the soiled towels in a sealed plastic bag and dispose in an outdoor trash receptacle.
Clean protective equipment with the EPA-registered disinfectant, then again with soap and water, and allow to air dry before the next use.
Spray dead white-footed mice with EPA-registered disinfectant before disposal. Handle traps wearing protective latex or rubber gloves and a HEPA-equipped respirator. Try to avoid touching or handling the carcass. Dispose of the carcass in a sealed plastic bag in an outdoor trash receptacle.