Peromyscus maniculatus are a common species of mouse found across North America (2). Their name, deer mouse, comes from their coloration pattern; dark dorsal fur with a white underbelly, legs and tail giving them a similar appearance to a deer (3). P. maniculatus in California on average reach total lengths of 15 - 20 cm, with tails between 6 – 9 cm (1). While in general P. maniculatus’ breeding season is determined by food availability, Californian P. maniculatus tend to breed between April and November (1). Deer mice are difficult to spot as they are nocturnal and their dorsal pattern vary to blend in with their environment (3). Females give birth to 3 or 4 litters of 1 – 9 young annually (2). They take roughly 6 weeks to reach sexually maturity (2). This fast life cycle is controlled by the fact that they are common prey for small to medium sized predators (2). P. maniculatus are omnivorous, consuming nuts, small fruits, arthropods, and seeds (2).
(1) Jameson, E. W., Jr., & Peeters, H. J. (2004). Mammals of California (Revised ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
(2) Sullivan, Janet. 1995. Peromyscus maniculatus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
(3) Deer Mouse. The Pennsylvania State University. (2002) .
(Photograph) © Alice Abela