Deer mice are a species of rodents that may surprise you when it comes to how close you may share space with them. If you live on or near farming areas or even within close proximity of rural areas you most likely have deer mice nearby. So why should this concern you? Deer mice are some of the most known carriers of deer ticks which carry the bacterium known as Lyme disease.
What Are Deer Mice
The deer mouse is a small rodent that lives in eastern North America who prefers the outdoors where they nest in burrows or trees and reproduce in large numbers. There are two main groups of deer mice, the prairie deer mouse and the woodland or forest deer mouse. They are closely related to the white-footed mouse and are often the species of rodents that are used for laboratory experimentation because of their nature to self-clean and be easily cared for. Deer mice typically reproduce March through October depending on food availability but can be known to reproduce most of the year. In the winter they prefer to nest in groups whereas for the rest of the seasons they are more likely to nest individually. The origin of their name comes from the similarities they share with deer which is the color patterns of tawny brown contrasting a white underbelly with white legs and tails.
Why Are Deer Mice Dangerous
As with most rodents, deer mice carry harmful diseases that can affect humans. One, in particular, is Lyme disease. Though deer mice themselves are not the carriers of this disease the ticks that are commonly found on them are. If you were to come into contact with a deer mouse or have a deer mice infestation in your home or other building space where you work and live, you are susceptible to being bit by these ticks and unfortunately be exposed to this disease. Mice, in general, populate very rapidly so to have a rodent species that is known to carry such a harmful disease places you at even greater risk of contracting Lyme disease which is not something you want to deal with as it can have a major impact on your health.
What Is Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease caused by bacteria that is transmitted by ticks and is known to first produce a rash, headache, fever, chills and then, later on, cause possible arthritis, neurological and cardiac disorders. Based on reported cases, about 480,000 Americans are diagnosed and treated with Lyme disease each year. In severe cases, this disease can impact a person’s central nervous system to the degree that it leads to acute respiratory failure causing death.
What Are Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
If you have been bitten by a tick or think you have been bitten by a tick in an area that is known for Lyme disease you will want to see your doctor as soon as possible as it is important to treat this disease early on before symptoms progress. Early signs of Lyme disease can include fever, chills, headache, fatigue, joint and muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms can present themselves anywhere between a few days to a month after being bit by a deer tick. Symptoms that may appear up to months later after the infection can include severe headaches, neck stiffness, facial palsy, arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling especially in the knee and larger joints, intermittent pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones, heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat, inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, nerve pain, dizziness or shortness of breath and shooting pains and numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.
What To Do If You Suspect You Have Deer Mice
If you suspect or know you have deer mice present in your home or anywhere around your home, you will want to contact a professional rodent specialist right away. Outside of Lyme disease, these mice are also known to carry Hantavirus which is a severe and sometimes fatal respiratory disease that can be transmitted through contact with their feces or urine. Trying to get rid of these rodents on your own without the proper safety equipment can place you at risk of being exposed to these diseases and contracting them. Rodent specialists are trained to deal with these types of problems and will know the right steps when dealing with them.
Deer mice are prevalent in the Pacific Northwest and can easily infest your living quarters. Often times they hide underneath your home as a shelter, coming and going to scavenge for food. Barns, sheds, or spaces where there is less traffic are great places for them to live and hide. All they need is a tiny space to get in and out without being seen until they have multiplied in numbers that quickly become a major problem. Staying on top of and visible rodent activity is essential in preventing these rodents from taking over and putting you and your family at risk.