Deer Mouse
Tracks and Signs

Deer mouse face.

Peromyscus maniculatus

       

Deer Mouse Tracks

 

Front Track Size: Hind Track Size:

.25-.5 in. L x .25-7/16 in. W

.25-9/16 in. L x 5/16-.5 in. W

 

Natural History of Deer Mice

 

Deer mice are common nocturnal mammals. Adults are brownish gray. Juveniles are gray. Both have dark eyes and white feet and undersides. They have four toes on the forefeet and five toes on the hind feet. Their tracks are commonly found on the fine beach sand of river bars and in soft mud. Tracks are usually in groups of four with a trail width less than two inches. In firm sand, sometimes a whole print will show up clearly. Mice make nests lined with the softest materials they can find. Nests are located beneath rocks and logs, in burrows, or in trees. Three or four litters of four babies each may be born per year. mouse tracks
Mice will also gnaw on old bones and antlers to get the calcium. When you find a bone, look very closely at it and you may see tiny paired tooth marks where mice have scraped it. Mice eat seeds, mushrooms, fungi, berries, herbs, insects, larvae, and carrion. They are good climbers and will climb to escape danger. They are active year-round.

Since mice are prey for so many animals, they are somewhat nervous in their actions. They are often seen running or moving very fast. In order to survive, they have to be able to outrun or escape predators.

The two close-up photos above show the five toes of the hind foot. Front feet have four, with a tiny vestigial fifth toe occasionally leaving an imprint. Sometimes an imprint of the entire toe is visible, as in the photo on the left above. The photo at the top of the page shows five toes with just the toe pads leaving imprints.

Track photo on right courtesy of Mark Seaver. Thanks Mark!

 

 
Four mouse tracks. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
These clear mouse tracks were found in silt at the edge of a river.
 
Right front mouse track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A close-up of the right front paw print of a mouse. Front feet have four toes and hind feet have five toes.

 
Right hind  mouse track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
A close-up of the right hind pawprint of a mouse.
 
 
deer mouse front track
The front track of a deer mouse in soot on a sooted track plate.
 
deer mouse track right front foot

The right front track of a deer mouse on a sooted track plate. Track plates are used for surveying for wildlife.

 
deer and skunk tracks

The right front track of a deer mouse and the left hind track of a striped skunk from a sooted track plate.

 

Mouse nest and food storage in the air intake of my truck. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This mouse wanted to stay warm during winter. It made a nice cozy nest inside the air intake of my truck. The shredded material used to make the nest came from my new air filter (which wasn't so new when the mouse was through with it.) The truck was parked near a bird feeder, where I fed cracked corn. The yellow grain in the photo shows that this mouse was gathering a lot of it too, as well as a few acorns. It was a nice, safe place for a mouse to live, as long as I didn't need to drive anywhere. I used a vacuum and removed all this before driving.

 

Air filter shredded by mouse gathering nest material. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This is what the air filter looked like after the mouse was finished harvesting it for building material for its nest. It made a cozy enough nest, but sure was a mess to clean out of those ribs in the filter! Living in the country comes with a price sometimes.
 
 
all four feet of a deer mouse. Photos and graphic by Kim A. Cabrera

Photos above show all four feet of a deer mouse. This view helps trackers learn the details of the feet, which show up in the tracks.
NOTE: This mouse was found dead and was not killed for these photos!

 

Close-up view showing the size of the hind foot of a deer mouse. Only the toes and the first four metatarsal pads normally show up in their tracks.

 
 

Personal Notes on Deer Mice

 

Deer mice are very common. I’ve found their tracks in fine mud and in dry river silt. Out on the river bar, they seem to stick to the same routes. There will be little trails between areas of cover with hundreds of little mouse prints on them. Sometimes, there will be a line of mouse tracks going off to a feeding place alone. The tail sometimes drags in the trail, leaving a mark like the one in the photo above. Mice seem to nest any dry place that is sheltered from predators. I’ve found nests in abandoned sheds, in food lockers in campgrounds, even inside old walls. Although mice are certainly cute and fuzzy creatures, they can bite!

The photo here shows a sunflower seed for scale alongside the hind print of a mouse. The two lines running diagonally from left to right are the trail of an insect. These tracks were found in find river silt in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California.

 

 

Mouse photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera.

Mouse photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera.

Mouse of unknown species caught in the cracked corn! It was released unharmed outdoors.

 
 

Close-ups above show the two front feet of a deer mouse. Notice that four of the toes show claws. The tiny vestigial "thumb" sometimes shows up in their tracks. It often imprints just as a round dot.
 

The close-ups above show the hind feet of a deer mouse. The two pads that are closer to the "heel" are rarely seen in tracks. Normally, the tracks show the five toes, with the four metatarsal pads nearest them. Claw marks sometimes, but not always, show up in the tracks. Metatarsal pads are named for the bones in the feet. The front feet have metacarpal pads, named for the bones in the front feet. 

 
 

 

Mouse and Track Photo Gallery

mouse from my truck - summer 2000

A mouse that I found nesting in the back of my truck. After posing for these photos, he was released into the tall grass to find himself a home in his natural environment.

After painting a shelf in the garage, I found these tracks of a tiny night-time visitor on the cement near the shelf.

mouse got into the paint
mouse

The suspected culprit in the case of the painted tracks looks like this... four toes on the front foot and five toes on the hind foot.

An entire set of all four tracks. The letters indicate front (F) and hind (H) tracks. This pattern, with the hind feet ahead of the front feet, is typical for rodents.

trail pattern

The left front track. The vestigial toe pad is visible in this photo if you look closely.

left front foot right front foot

The right front foot with the vestigial toe pad indicated by arrow. If you look closely, you can find this on mouse tracks in very fine soil.

front foot with quarter for scale front foot in paint

Although this print looks a little larger than the other mouse tracks, it isn't. The paint spread out, making the track look bigger. The same happens in mud.

Just how big are mouse tracks? Well, that quarter is almost 1 inch wide. It's actually 15/16", but who's counting?

left front foot

Quiz time: Which track is this? Hint: look for the location of that vestigial toe imprint.

mouse and gray fox track mouse and killdeer tracls

Predator and prey: mouse track in the upper right next to a gray fox track.

Mouse track in upper left with a killdeer tack. A killdeer is a shorebird similar to a plover.

Deer mouse

Due to their tiny size, mice are prey for just about all predators out there. Consequently, they can have several litters a year to keep up their populations.

A curious nose and whiskers. Mice eat many things, as I found out when this one got into my truck and started nesting in various materials. First place it built a nest was in the ventilation system, chewing the foam to shreds.

Mouse nose.
toe pad on front foot

Look closely at the feet in the photo above. Can you see evidence of the vestigial toe? While not visible in the photo, it can easily be seen in the photo to the right. This toe is simiar to the dewclaw that dogs and cats have higher up on the wrist.

The hind track in paint. Note the tiny claw marks. On the toe in the upper left corner, you can see some of the ridges that are on the bottom of the foot.

hind foot in paint right hind foot in mud

The hind foot in mud. The heel pads are visible here. This grouping of the five toes (1-3-1) is typical.

pattern with scale

A group of all four tracks with quarter for scale. This is one complete set. Front tracks are in the lower part of the photo. The direction of travel is from bottom to top of photo.

Two complete sets of mouse tracks in a trail. The mouse was moving from right to left in this photo.

trail pattern
paint tracks

More tracks found in the paint.

An older front track found along the Eel River in Humboldt County, California.

mouse track with penny
Mouse tracks along the Eel River. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

These mouse tracks were found in fine river silt along the Eel River in northern California. The footprints of several mice crisscross each other here. These were near a clump of brush, which provided cover for the mice. It's a great habitat and plenty of food can be found here. You can also find the tracks of the predators that prey on mice in these areas.

Cat and mouse tracks. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This photo shows a lot of mouse activity. These numerous tracks were found near the entrance to a culvert. There was a lot of mouse activity going on within 20 feet of this location as well. I had my cat along on this walk and he jumped down into the culvert opening and left the two cat tracks seen above. Predator and prey in one photo. The cat tracks can be difficult to see at first, but look closely. Look for compressed areas where there is a lack of mouse sign.

 
 
Mouse sign. Shredded tissue. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Mouse sign. The mouse was shredding this roll of tissue for nest material. They love soft materials like this.

 

Find mouse posters, greeting cards, postage stamps and more in my new store.

Visit Beartracker's Nature Store online store at: www.dirt-time.com  Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!

 

Find other tracking products: www.zazzle.com/tracker8459*

 

Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

NDN Pride shop - For Indian Pride items for all tribes. Custom items available on request.

ASL Signs of Love - For anyone who uses or is learning ASL, American Sign Language. Custom name items and more are available here.

Get Every Child Outdoors (Get E.C.O.) - My shop dedicated to nature and getting kids interested in nature and the outdoors.

Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!

 

 

Looking for a Gift? This site lets you customize a gift card with your own photo. Commissions earned when you buy from this link help keep Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den online! Thank you!

 Gift Card Lab - Create Photo Gift Cards Online

 

 

 

prints prints

Got a mouse story? E-mail me and tell me about it.

tracker777@hotmail.com

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Copyright 1997, 2013. Text, photos, and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera

Page updated: January 25, 2013.

Copyright 1997, 2009, 2013. Text, drawings, and photos by Kim A. Cabrera - Desert Moon Design