Understanding the Life and Threats of Deer Mice

Deer mice are the most common type of mouse found in the United States. When an infestation occurs in a home or business, odds are strong that type of mouse that will be present is the deer mouse. Because of the ubiquitous nature of deer mice in the United States, you need to have a basic understanding of the life and conduct of this type of rodent. You also need to have a clear appreciation of the potential threat posed to humans by deer mice.

What Deer Mice Look Like?

Deer mice are slender rodents, fairly round in their overall shape. They are about seven to 20 centimeters in length when they reach adulthood.

The head of a deer mouse features a pointed nose. A deer mouse has black eyes. In addition, a deer mouse has large ears that have very little hair on them.

Deer mice are bi-colored rodents. They have light brown-red fur on their tops and white underbellies and feet. Tails of deer mice are between five and 13 centimeters in length. The tails are also bi-colored, with a darker color at the top and a lighter coloration at the bottom. Deer mice tails are covered with short, fine hair.

Overview of Deer Mice and Disease

Deer mice garnered closed attention in the United States because this specific type of rodent has been determined to be the primary carrier of the hantavirus in North America. The hantavirus is a pathogen that has the potential for causing extremely serious and even fatal health problems for an infected person.

The hantavirus can result in a person being inflicted with what is known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. There is no cure for this condition. While some people do recover from hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, doctors attribute that recovery to be some sort of the spontaneous change in an individual’s status. In other words, there is no clear understanding of why some people recover from hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.

What is known is that hantavirus pulmonary syndrome causes hemorrhaging of capillaries in an infected person’s lungs. This results in blood flowing into an individual’s lung, resulting in death in over 30 percent of cases.

The hantavirus itself is a very durable pathogen. By that, it is meant it can survive outside a deer mouse for an extended period of time. Indeed, the hantavirus remains viable even in dried deer mice droppings.

Deer mice droppings are dangerous, particularly dry ones. Dried feces crumble very easily. When deer mice feces crumble, dust becomes airborne carrying the hantavirus with it. Humans exposed to this dust may inhale it and become infected with the hantavirus.

Deer mice may also carry Lyme disease. About 30 percent of deer mice in some parts of the country are estimated to be infected with Lyme disease. In addition, deer mice also can carry Ehrlichiosis and babesiosis. These are all treatable conditions provided medical intervention occurs promptly.

How Do Deer Mice Invade a Home or Business?

Deer mice tend to be attracted to homes (and businesses) that are closely surrounded by a good amount of vegetation. They are also attracted to residences that have firewood piled near the structure. Deer mice do not like being in exposed areas.

Deer mice are capable of entering a residence (or a business) through very small openings. In addition, they are capable of climbing and will take advantage of vegetation, including vines, to work their way into an attic.

Signs of a Deer Mice Infestation

There exist a number of telltale signs of deer mice infestation. These include droppings. Deer mice droppings are about the size of a grain of rice. They are dark brown when initially excreted, but shortly lighten. When they dry out, deer mice droppings are gray in color (and potentially more dangerous, as was noted). A deer mouse can expel up to 70 droppings a day. Understanding this fact aids you in ascertaining the extent of an infestation that may exist in your home or business.

Other signs of deer mice infestation include gnawing marks on walls and objects in a residence, particularly on corners of things. In addition, beginning in the evening and into the night, squeals may be heard if there is a deer mice infestation. Scurrying sounds are apt to be heard in the walls and attic in the evening and at night as well.

Cleaning Up Deer Mice Droppings

Particular care must be taken when it comes to cleaning up deer mice droppings. As mentioned, dried droppings present a particular hazard because they crumble so easily, possibly resulting in the release of pathogens like the hantavirus into the air. For this reason, serious precautions must be taken when cleaning up deer mice droppings. Indeed, the necessary safety protocols are so significant that engaging a professional biohazard remediation service represents the safest way to thoroughly clean up deer mice droppings in a home or business.

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