Deer Mice as Pets, and other Tall Tails

DEER MICE - The Adoption
Last Updated 9/12/01
The newest info is at the bottom of the page.


Orphaned mice found in my camper 8/01/01

We had no idea these cuties were in our camper as we took off for a folk festival weekend.

The momma mouse used insulation for their nesting material. She pulled the insulation from around the pipe under the camper's kitchen sink. Babies were able to eat solid food and drink from a small dish of water. We adopted the babies and they are thriving. They are approximately the same size as a quarter.

I've read a lot about white-footed mice and deer mice. Some sites claim they are one and the same, but they are not. Mine are Deer Mice. Here is the song of a deer mouse, from John Sankey's Site - (listen! 218k)

Check out the PEROMYSCUS GENETIC STOCK CENTER at the University of South Carolina. I'm fascinated with the colorful mutations. Allergic? Order up a hairless deer mouse. (not a pretty sight)

We were careful to quarantine the mice and check for illness and viri. They were clean and healthy except for the smallest, which has a pronounced limp. It may have been injured when my frightened husband found them and tossed them out of the camper as he jumped up and down squealing. I'm sure it wasn't nearly as funny to the mice.

Photos taken 8/04/01


I wrote this as a guide for mouse owners. Domestic mice might be easier to catch than the quicker wild mice, but the instructions should work for any kind of small rodent.

We LOVE the Live Trap we purchased from It has come in handy numerous times. (EEK!) If you own a hamster, mouse, or other tiny animal, you should prepare yourself for occasional escape!

The trap is very easy to use. Wild mice are faster than lightening! It used to take hours to capture them. Now I have them safely home in less than ten minutes.


1. As soon as the buggar gets loose, close all the doors in the room.

2. Be sure there are no cracks under the door. Stuff with rags or towels if necessary.

3. Check for holes in walls. This includes cracked wallplates, etc...

4. If you have long drapes, lift them off the ground. Mice can easily climb them.

5. Keep your eyes on the floor. Try and know the approximate area where the mouse is hiding. If you aren't sure, check along the edge of the walls. Especially dark areas and behind furniture.

6. If necessary, herd the mouse to a strategic location. Contrary to popular belief, mouse herding is not all that difficult. All you need to do is spook it a little. I use a long featherduster, but a yard stick or other instrument will work, too.

7. Place the live trap against the wall in a dark area at least a foot from the mouse. Set an object next to the trap so the mouse doesn't go around the entrance. About 6" is fine. They prefer the most direct route, and will run into the trap rather than change course or veer from the safety of the wall.

8. Herd the mouse in the direction of the trap. If it doesn't work, try another location. Eventually you'll figure out how your mouse likes to hide, and you'll catch it.



These photos were taken 9/7/01

The limping mouse seemed lethargic tonight, so I let it curl up in my pocket as I worked. It crawled out and sat in my hand for a while. I had to type with one hand, but I didn't mind. Then it became restless, so I put it back in the nest. It was behaving strangely. I had a gut feeling something was very wrong. A few hours later I checked, and it had died. I was very sad, but I'm grateful the remaining three female orphan mice are healthy and happy.




These photos were taken 9/13/01

They sure do love digging. One of the three has a little kink at the end of her tail. She is the friendliest of them all. I call her Quinkie. If I put my arm in the cage, she will run up and sit on my shoulder. She loves to sit on my head, too. I'm always afraid she will do a naughty on my head, so I don't let her stay up there too long. :-)

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Quinkie - 9/19/01

Holding a hamster in your hand can be compared (weight-wise) to holding a small apple, whereas a mouse in your hand is akin to holding a cotton ball.

I am fairly certain mice can see much better than hamsters, but I'm inclined to believe they cannot hear as well. I can make a tiny noise from across the room, and a hamster jerks its head. The mice either don't hear or aren't concerned.

Are my mice ungrateful? I take care to refill their water dish with ONLY filtered water. Then the girls poop in it! My husband thinks that is hysterical. I don't find the humor, but I do see the irony.


Running in their beloved wheel - 9/20/01

They often run in opposite directions. If the lighter mouse doesn't hang on, she tumbles as if she were in the dryer at a launderette. Most of the time they just hang on and enjoy the ride. The running mouse has to leap over the clinging mouse or there's a mid-mouse collision. Boom! Then they jump into the wheel and start all over.



Photo taken 9/21/01

This is bitsy. She lays her head in the doorway of her house and watches me work for hours. Sometimes I look over and all three girls have their heads propped in the doorway watching me work. Maybe they just like the sound of the keyboard.



Lacking a collar-bone, the deer mouse can flatten it's body so much it can squeeze into an opening one quarter of an inch high.

Photos taken 9/24/01

Zig is giving her sister, Bitsy, a mouse-back ride!
Ugh, Bitsy looks heavy!


No photos, please!


UPDATE: 10-07-01

The mice are molting. Their new fur is shorter and tan in color. I'll post pictures soon!

The vacuum cleaner scares the mice. One of them is leaping up and down so high she bumps her head on the top of the cage. I moved them out back until the housekeeper is finished.


UPDATE: 11-19-01

We got a new house! It's a log cabin. See? Bitsy likes to hang out on the front porch. We spend lots of time in the house during the day. Our large eyes are sensitive to light, so we come out when it's dark. There's a big petrified log to climb on, and lots of branches and twigs, too.

We learned how to drink from a water bottle, and we still go for jogs in our wheel. Our favorite food is peanuts, cracked corn and sunflower seeds. Cockatiel mix is the perfect blend of seeds for us. The floor of our new home is covered with pine shavings, timothy hay and alfalfa. Thanks to helpful info from our friend Paul, we're getting Aspen shavings to replace the pine!






UPDATE: 11-27-01

I caught Bitsy taking a bath. At first she was shy, but then she forgot the camera was there. I would have been shocked if she had eaten a poop on camera. I've never seen the deer mice do that, only the domestic mice.

Bitsy Movie (184k)
Bitsy's Bath (344k)


UPDATE: 04-16-02

The girls are fantastic. Healthy and happy! Bitsy is usually found running in the wheel. I haven't seen the other girls in the wheel for many months. They're completely nocturnal but so am I, so I do get to see them awake and playing. As adults, they are much more docile than they were last year as babies. They are still very entertaining. Ziggy's job is storing the food. She's shy, and will run quick as lightening from the cabin door to the food and back, carrying as much in her mouth as she can manage. She's the only mouse that ever performs this job. Zig seems vaguely interested in me as I watch, but Bitsy is the most comfortable in my presence. Quinky occasionally makes an appearance, but I hardly ever see her. When I do, I make an extra effort to make sure she is healthy. Ever since she was named Pet of the Day, Quinkie has behaved like a prima donna. Bitsy and Zig don't seem to mind.

If you have pictures or links to your deer mouse/mice, please send them to me or post them on our Message Board! We will soon create a deer mouse links page!



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