White-footed Mouse

Maryland Mammals

White-footed Mouse
(Peromyscus leucopus)

White-footed Mouse, photo by John White 

Description:

This rodent is found throughout Maryland and in a variety of habitats. Its physical description varies with its habitat.

  • The body is brown although it can be reddish or grayish.
  • The belly is white.
  • The young are gray above with white bellies.
  • Tail is bicolor - dark on top, white below.
  • The tail is nearly half the total length of the mouse.
  • Rodent has large ears.
  • Length of adult is 5”- 8”.
  • Tail is 21/2” to 3 7/8” in length.
  • Adult mice weigh about ½ to 1 ½ ounces.

Similar mice:

Deer Mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus, looks very similar and it can be a challenge to tell a woodland form of a Deer Mouse from a White-footed or Wood Mouse. The Deer mouse is larger with a longer tail and long hind feet.

Breeding

There are two peak times for breeding, fall and spring. Females gives birth 22 days after fertilization, producing litters of 3-5 young.

Habitat:

Woods, brushy areas. Will also use habitat next to a woods such as farm lands.

Signs:

The Wood Mouse stores seeds such as black cherry pits (one of its favorite foods) and acorns under logs and in trees, Nests are constructed out of grass, leaves, hair, moss, and bark in a hidden location in its habitat. The Wood Mouse will also use an abandoned bird nest.

Behavior:

This mouse is a typical rodent in being nocturnal and active throughout the year.

  • A Wood Mouse spends a good amount of its time in trees and shrubs, so it is a good climber.
  • This mouse uses its tail for balance when climbing trees.
  • It is an omnivore, eating seeds, berries, nuts, and insects, especially beetles.
  • Wood Mice like to store up their seeds - "cache" - near a nest or building.
  • When attempting to warn other mice of danger it will drum its front feet.
  • This mouse also makes very high pitched vocalizations, sounding like a bird trilling.

This species of mouse is very adaptable, abundant and an important source of food for a variety of bird and mammal predators in the food chain.