• Species: Deer mouse.
• Scientific name: Peromyscus maniculatus.
• Nicknames: None.
• Claim to fame: There are no studies to prove it, but because of its reproductive capacity, the deer mouse is probably one of the most abundant native wild mammals in Missouri.
Another mouse, the house mouse (Mus musculus), is probably even more numerous, but it loses on a technicality – it’s not a native species. Because of their abundance, deer mice are an important source of food for hawks, owls, snakes and other creatures that prey on small mammals.
• Species status: The deer mouse can be found throughout Missouri.
• First discovered: The first scientific description of the deer mouse was written in 1841 by the German zoologist and ornithologist Constantin Wilhelm Lambert Gloger. One of Gloger’s claims to biological fame is that he was one of the first people to put up boxes to attract bats.
• Family matters: Deer mice belong to the mammal family Cricetidae, a group that includes small rodents such as some species of native mice, rats and voles. Cricetidae is one of two families of mice (Zapodidae is the other) that are native to North America. Mice in these families are called New World mice.
The mouse we usually find in our homes, the house mouse, is a member of the family Muridae, and is known as an Old World mouse species because it came here from Europe and Asia. The house mouse and another common Old World rodent, the Norway rat, were transported to North America as part of the cargoes of ships that sailed here. Thus, these two creatures had numerous introductions here in the past 400 years.