House Mice VS. Deer Mice

Family of four sitting close together smiling

There are a lot of similarities between house mice and deer mice. They are both small and cute and have a tiny squeaking voice. They both have small ears and eyes, long thin tails, and a pair of incisors that never stop growing. And, they both can cause all sorts of difficulties if they get into homes or businesses. 

Indoor or outdoor mice?

The common house mouse, as you might be able to guess from its name, is happy to live its whole life inside man-made structures, alongside humans (although some house mice do choose to live outside in the wild). Generally, house mice will set up housekeeping inside attics, wall voids, and other spaces, steal out to find food sources at night, both inside and outside and leave their excrement everywhere they roam. Since the common house mouse is one of the most successful and widely distributed mammals in the world, it is the most common mouse home and business owners have to deal with. This is why it was given the name, common house mouse.

The deer mouse, which is in a completely different family than the house mouse, is much less likely to live with humans, preferring to live outside in the wild, instead. This species is fairly widespread across the continent. They prefer nesting high up in large hollow trees but can be found making their nests underneath roots, logs, or boards, inside stumps, sheds, or garages, in firewood, and even inside the burrows or the nests of other creatures. For the most part, deer mice will nest alone but they may also share a nest with a mouse of the opposite sex.


A house mouse, from its nose to its tail, measures from 65 to 95 mm long, with a tail that is about the same length as its body. Its fur can be grayish, light brown, black, or anything in between. The underbelly of a house mouse is lighter than its top. The mostly hairless tail of a house mouse is thicker and more scaly than the tails of most other types of mice. If a house mouse lives outside, it will generally be smaller, have a shorter tail, and be lighter in color than a house mouse that lives exclusively with humans.

Considered "cuter" than a house mouse, a deer mouse has large ears and big, shiny eyes. Like a white-tailed deer, a deer mouse has gray or tawny-colored fur on top, and white on its underbelly and the underside of its tail. The length of a deer mouse is around 50 to 77 mm and, unlike their cousins, a deer mouse's tail is furry.


Since house mice live inside structures, but also forage for food in outside areas, they are more likely to spread diseases to humans. They do this by carrying bacteria and/or parasites on their fur, or bacteria and viruses via feces and other bodily fluids. They track through garbage dumps, sewers, compost piles, and other dirty places, then spread filth around on pantry shelves, in the backs of drawers, and on food preparation surfaces. House mice, like all rodents, constantly chew on things to wear down their ever-growing incisors. Because of this, they can damage structures and belongings and pose a fire hazard if they chew on electrical wiring.

Deer mice are less likely than house mice to spread bacteria, since they are less likely to inhabit man-made structures, but they are known to spread a strain of hantavirus to humans. This can lead to hantavirus pulmonary syndrome. Because of this danger, it is always best to call upon a professional pest controller when dealing with and removing the nests of these mice.

The best way to control house mice or deer mice.

If you need help dealing with either of these types of mice, the pest professionals here at Witt Pest Management are standing by. Different types of pests require different tools, products, and strategies to completely eradicate them. Seal your property against future infestations. Reach out to Witt today.

Get a Free Estimate

Contact Info
By submitting this form, you are agreeing to the privacy policy.