|Peromyscus maniculatus Wagner|
Don Linzey & Christy Brecht
Wytheville Community College
Wytheville, Virginia 24382
Last updated: 26 November, 2005
- Adult total length:
6 - 9 in. (155 - 220 mm)
3 1/8 - 4 3/8 in. (80 - 110 mm)
- Hind foot:
3/4 - 7/8 in. (19 - 23 mm)
1/2 - 4/5 oz. (13 - 23 g)
The dorsal coloration of the medium-sized deer mouse ranges
from brownish-gray to reddish-brown. The belly is whitish,
and the tail is sharply bicolored (dark above, white below).
The eyes and ears are large.
left lateral view of
skull and mandible
dorsal view of skull
ventral view of skull
The deer mouse ranges throughout much of Alaska and Canada and is found
throughout much of the United States except for most of the southeastern states.
||Mice, rats, squirrels, etc.
||Murid Rats and Mice
The deer mouse is a forest dwelling rodent that prefers cool, moist forest.
It may be found in mixed woods or conifers.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
This species and the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus)
are probably the most abundant of the park's mammals. The deer mouse
prefers cool, moist forests and is found most abundantly at the
higher altitudes, while the white-footed mouse tends to occur in
greater numbers at the lower elevations although it has been recorded
as high as 6,500 feet (Smith and Mouzon, 1985).
These species come together in the park at about 3,000 feet (Komarek and Komarek, 1938). However, there is considerable
overlap, and the two forms are frequently taken in adjacent traps.
This altitudinal division has also been noted in areas surrounding the
park. An indication of a seasonal difference in the distribution of
these two species was recorded at Cosby in the 1960s (
Linzey and Linzey, 1971). In March 1964, the deer mouse was recorded
along Cosby Creek (1,720 feet). During the summers of 1963 and 1964,
however, the area was occupied by white-footed mice, and no deer mice
could be found.
- Blount Co.:
Russell Field (4,300 feet); Spence Field (4,800 -5,000
feet); Thunderhead Mountain.
- Cocke Co.:
Near Cosby Ranger Station (1,700 - 2,500 feet); Crying
Creek; Indian Camp Creek (2,650 feet); Low Gap (2,700 -
4,242 feet); Snake Den Mountain (3,700 - 4,500 feet);
Appalachian Trail between Low Gap and Mt. Cammerer (4,242
- 4,900 feet); Inadu Knob (4,500 - 5,700 feet); Old Black
Mountain (6,300 feet); Mt. Guyot.
- Sevier Co.:
Roaring Fork near Gatlinburg (1,400 feet); Greenbrier (1,950
- 4,700 feet); Ramsay Prong (3,000 feet); Horseshoe Mountain
(2,500 feet); Brushy Mountain (2,700 - 4,911 feet); Brushy
Gap (3,000 - 4,911 feet); Newfound Gap Road (3,100 - 4,000
feet); Chapman Prong (3,000 - 3,500 feet); Chimneys Campground;
Eagle Rocks Creek (3,500 feet); Fish Camp Prong; Grassy Patch
(3,500 - 4,000 feet); Buck Fork (4,200 - 4,500 feet); Walker
Prong at Newfound Gap Road (4,750 feet); Dry Sluice Trail (
4,800 feet); Lost Fork; Newfound Gap (4,900 - 5,200 feet); Mt.
Kephart (5,500 feet); Three Forks; Thunderhead Mountain;
Russell Field; Silers Bald (5,500 - 5,620 feet); Mt. Guyot
(6,620 feet); Mt. LeConte.
- Haywood Co.:
Big Creek (1,700 - 2,200 feet); Cataloochee (2,600 feet);
Walnut Bottom (3,042 feet); Black Camp Gap (4,500 feet); Cosby
Knob Shelter (4,800 feet).
- Swain Co.:
Smokemont (2,200 - 3,000 feet); Forney Creek (2,400 feet); Kanati
Fork at Newfound Gap Road (2,800 feet); Beech Flats Creek at
Newfound Gap Road (4,000 feet); Mingus Mill Creek (4,000 feet);
Moore Springs Shelter (4,750 feet); Old Indian Gap Road at
Clingmans Dome Road (5,200 feet); Silers Bald (5,600 feet);
Pecks Corner Shelter (5,500 feet); Thunderhead Mountain;
Tricorner Knob (5,900 feet); Mt. Collins (6,100 - 6,188 feet);
Mt Kephart (6,200 feet); Indian Gap; Clingmans Dome (6,300 -
6,640 feet); Forney Ridge (6,400 feet).
Breeding extends from early spring to late fall with gestation periods
ranging from 23-27 days. Average litters consist of two to four blind,
naked, and helpless young. Females with embryos or placental scars have
been recorded in the park during the following months: February (1),
March (5), April (1), July (10), August (3), September (2), and December
(7) (Komarek and Komarek, 1938;
Linzey, 1995b). The average number of embryos per female (14 females)
was 3.5 (2 - 4). A nursing female was recorded 14 March. Males examined
during March (1), July (11), September (2), and December (6) were in
breeding condition. Mice kept in captivity by Linzey have produced
litters in every month, and it is probable that the wild population also
reproduces throughout the year.
Wild deer mice rarely survive for more than 1.5 to 2 years, although captive
deer mice have lived as long as 8 years (Linzey, 1998).
- Terrestrial Ecology
Deer mice are primarily nocturnal. They have good eyesight and keen senses
of hearing, touch, and smell. Nests may be located in trees, stumps, wood
piles, or buildings. Nests are constructed of leaves, grass, shredded bark,
moss, paper, cloth, or any other available material.
Examination of the stomachs of 105 Peromyscus maniculatus taken in
various portions of the park during July (26), September (3), and December
(76) revealed seeds, fruit, and vegetation as the principal food items by
volume (Linzey and Linzey, 1973). Animal food (chiefly
insects) constituted slightly less than 10% of the total food. A comparison
of summer and winter food volumes from four localities showed that seeds
apparently form a substantial portion of the diet regardless of the season
or habitat, ranging from 57.5 to 67.5%. Insects form a larger portion of
the diet in summer than in winter. Since the sample was dominated by winter
specimens (76 to 29), the over-all figure of 10% volume of animal foods is
probably lower than it would have been if the specimens had been taken at
evenly distributed times throughout the year.
Home range size is generally between about 0.4 and 1.2 ha (
Linzey, 1998). A definite homing ability for distances up to approximately
0.4 km is known for this species (Linzey, 1998).
- Predators and Defense
All instances of predation involving Peromyscus sp. are reported in
this account of Peromyscus maniculatus, since remains of mice of this
genus found in the stomachs of predators have not been identified to species.
Three timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) taken near Laurel Creek,
Trillium Gap, and Gregory Bald had eaten Peromyscus sp. (Stupka, 1945, 1947, 1954). Peromyscus were recorded
in the stomachs of 21 of 44 timber rattlesnakes examined by Savage (1967). The stomachs of two screech owls (Otus asio)
found at the Townsend Y and near park headquarters also contained remains
of these mice (Stupka, 1938, 1949). A long-tailed
weasel (Mustela frenata) seen on Mt. LeConte near LeConte Lodge was
carrying a Peromyscus. A specimen was removed from the stomach of a
bobcat (Lynx rufus) killed along the Newfound Gap Road in Tennessee
Tapeworm cysts of a species not determined and nematodes (Longistriata
sp. and Oxyuris sp.) were found in the intestines and cecae of some
specimens examined by the Komareks. Pfitzer (1950) removed
a large number of fleas (Peromyscopsylla sp., Orchopeas sp.,
and Ctenophthalmus sp.) from the deer mouse. Linzey has recorded the
following fleas: Stenoponia americana, Orchopeas leucopus,
Epitedia wenmanni testor, and Peromyscopsylla hesperomys (Linzey, 1995b).
Links to Other Sites
- Special Protection Status
- In Park:
All plants and animals are protected within
Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Collection requires a permit which is usually granted only for
research or educational purposes.
- Map development
- Web page design & coding
- Denise Lim, University of Georgia, Athens
- John Pickering, University of Georgia, Athens
Handley, C.O., Jr. 1999.
Deer mouse. Pages 575 - 577. In: D.E. Wilson, and S. Ruff (eds.).
The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington,
D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
Komarek, E. V. and R. Komarek. 1938.
Mammals of the Great Smoky Mountains. Bulletin of the Chicago
Academy of Sciences 5 (6): 137 - 162.
Linzey, A.V. and D.W. Linzey. 1971.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Knoxville:
University of Tennessee Press.
Linzey, D.W. 1968.
An ecological study of the golden mouse, Ochrotomys nuttalli,
in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. American Midland
Naturalist 79(2): 320-345.
Linzey, D. W. 1995a.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Blacksburg,
Virginia: The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, Inc.
Linzey, D. W. 1995b.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park-1995 Update. Journal
of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 111(1):1-81.
Linzey, D. W. 1998.
The Mammals of Virginia. Blacksburg, Virginia: The McDonald &
Woodward Publishing Company, Inc.
Linzey, D.W. and A.V. Linzey. 1973.
Notes on food of small mammals from Great Smoky Mountains National Park,
Tennessee-North Carolina. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific
Society 89 (1 and 2): 6-14.
Pfitzer, D.W. 1950. Report on mammals collected or observed,
June-October, 1950. (Typewritten copy in files of Great Smoky
Mountains National Park.)
Savage, T. 1967.
The diet of rattlesnakes and copperheads in the Great Smoky Mountains
National Park. Copeia 1967 (1): 226-227.
Smith, T. R., and J.M. Mouzon. 1985.
Small mammal survey in the spruce-fir zone of Great Smoky Mountains
National Park. Typewritten final research report. In library of Great
Smoky Mountains National Park.
Stupka, A. 1935-63. Nature Journal, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
28 volumes (years) each with index. (Typewritten copy in files of Great
Smoky Mountains National Park library).
Last modified: 25 August, 2002