Skip to main content

White-footed Deer Mouse

Not too many fans of the mice out there, I suspect. They get a bad rap, and generally, mice are tarred with the same brush and equally disparaged.

But not all mice are created equal. Much of the household mischief is caused by a European introduction, the House Mouse, Mus musculus, a truly elfin all gray job. That's not to say that the natives aren't above raiding the pantry, but their normal haunts are outdoors, in our woods and fields.

And with a good look, some of these rodents are quite the stunners.

I see lots of signs of mice when out and about, and less commonly, the beasts themselves. But not usually well enough to get good photographs, but I did today. While exploring a local patch, we came upon two separate White-footed Deer Mice, Peromyscus leucopus. Both of them were under large boards, and had constructed soft nests of plant fibers. They were under there, trying to pass the day in as much tranquility as a mouse can muster, when we came along. But, after photographing them we left them be. These are indisputably beautiful creatures, with huge black eyes, dumbo ears, long whiskers, and white underparts that contrast with the soft brown upper pelage.

This one sits in a temporary nest. One finds white-foots under logs and other objects, and in all manner of cavities. Many a bluebirder is familiar with this species, as they are excellent climbers and readily scale poles to the boxes and stuff them with their nests.

The life of a mouse is fraught with peril, and they are edgy high-strung little critters. With good reason. These are nature's sausages with legs, and nearly everyone wants to eat them. Terrifically abundant, white-foots are very important members of ecological chains, and not just because they provide meals for so many carnivores. They are inveterate seed-eaters, and thus spread plants around.
And when you see one like this, white-foots are undeniably cute.


Heather said…
While mice do startle me, and I don't like them sharing my living space, they really ARE cute. I think you've done a nice job capturing their cuteness here, Jim.
Have you ever watched "Never Cry Wolf?"
It's my all-time favorite, not only for the story and great scenery of his research on wolves in the arctic (maybe Alaska?) but the humor is wonderful.
And he tested the hypothesis that wolves were sustaining themselves on mice--
and found it could be done.
salnmike said…
We co-existed with Mrs. Mouse and her many broods at the Cedar Bog kiosk for many years. She graciously allowed us to do business in her 'home' and we enjoyed watching her and the many generations that followed. Although we objected at times to her choice of nesting materials, it was always entertaining and - after all - Cedar Bog is her home. Love the post! Every animal has its place in nature.
I like mice...for reasons you can probably figure out. :)
All the prey species make me happy when I see them.

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…