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College of Arts & Sciences
Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center

Peromycus maniculatus Deer Mouse

Note: Due to the complexity of this species, this entry is incomplete and is currently under review.


P. maniculatus is the most common of the Peromyscus species. It is the largest of the species groups having 61 subspecies that range over a large geographic area and a variety of habitats. Their appearance and habits vary due to the large distribution. In the eastern US, two major forms exist. The woodland form of the northeast has a longer tail, ears, and hindfoot than the more western prairie form.  Particular differences have spawned controversy over whether or not they are distinctly different species. But for the purpose of this description, they shall be treated as variants of the same species.


Pelage:  Color of P. maniculatus varies from grayish to reddish-brown dorsally and varies widely depending on habitat and location. The feet and underside are white. The tail is shorthaired and distinctly bicolored, dark above and white below.

Size:  P. maniculatus is a medium size rodent but exact average size depends on which form is being examined.

Weight: Adult weights range from 10 – 30 g.

Measurements: Adult measurements (in mm.). Total length, 106-222; tail, 46-123; hindfoot, 14-25; ears, 12-21.  These measurements cover the entire range of P. maniculatus sub-species although some subspecies fall within much smaller ranges of measurements.


*To be added.


P. maniculatus ranges widely in North America from as far the north as the Yukon and Northwest territories in the west and the Hudson Bay area in the east, and south to Pennsylvania, the southern Appalachians, dipping into central Arkansas and east Texas, and down through the southwest US and into Mexico. More specifically, the long-tailed woodland version is found in southeastern Canada down into northern Wisconsin, Michigan, parts of New England and New York, and as far south through the Appalachians as northern Georgia. The prairie and western forms are found throughout the midwest US and from Alaska down into Mexico.


The habitat of P. maniculatus is extremely variable due to the large geographical range. Some subspecies are very diverse in their choice of habitat while others are much more selective. Depending on the geographical area, the woodland form can be found in hardwoods, dark spruce forests, and mixed woods and conifers. The prairie variety avoids herbaceous cover and prefers open fields, sandy areas, prairies, savanna, and other grasslands. It can be found in large numbers among corn, soybean, and wheat fields in the midwest US.


Feeding:  P. maniculatus feed on a variety of foods such as seeds and nuts, small fruits and berries, insects, caterpillars, and centipedes.  Some food is stored for winter months such as seeds and nuts in protected area like hollowed logs. There is some variance in the diets between the woodland and prairie forms. The woodland form feeds on woodland nuts, seeds, fruits, berries, insects, and invertebrates. Because they remain active through the winter, a lot of food storage is begun in summer and their cheek pouches are often filled with large amounts of seeds and other food. The prairie form prefers wheat, seeds of foxtail and other grasses, soybeans, beetles, caterpillars, and corn.  The prairie form will also make large stores of seeds in burrows for the winter months.

Nesting: The prairie form makes nests under piles of brush or may dig short burrows in sandy soil. The nests are made of grass and other plant material.   The woodland form prefers to nest in hollowed limbs or recesses in trees. In one study 22 of 24 nests were found to be in trees (Wolff and Hurlbutt, 1982).  Western subspecies of P. maniculatus will also nest in underground burrows, hollow limbs on or above ground, clumps of vegetation. They also may seek shelter in rock crevices.


The long-tailed woodland form of P. maniculatus is highly arboreal and climbs with great agility. They may take refuge several meters high in hollowed-out areas, recesses, or nests of other arboreal rodents such as squirrels. The prairie type can be observed moving from burrow to burrow. Tracks from this type of activity can often be found in snow or sandy areas that they populate.

When traveling slowly, it will move with a walking-type gate. But when moving rapidly, they will use a more of a hopping-type motion. This leaves a set of tracks characterized by two pairs of closely spaced prints if in sand, snow, or soft dirt.

Circadian Rhythm:

P. maniculatus is nocturnal like many other species of the genus and usually spend the day in their nest, burrow, or a temporary refuge.


P. maniculatus is polygamous although monogomy has been observed (Howard, 1949). Breeding occurs in the warmer months beginning in early spring and continuing well into autumn. During high heat times of the summer, a brief hiatus may occur. Gestation will last from 23 to 27 days. If the female is still lactating from the previous litter, the gestation time will tend towards the longer 27-day timeframe. This can occur because P. maniculatus may breed very soon after a previous litter. Litter size is usually from two to eight with an average of four or five.


P. maniculatus has the common Peromyscus diploid complement of 48 chromosomes.


Order Rodentia, Suborder Myomorpha, Family Muridae, Subfamily Sigmodontinae, Tribe Peromyscini,  Genus Peromyscus, Subgenus Peromyscus, maniculatus-species group.


P. maniculatus abietorum (Bangs, 1896)

P. maniculatus alpinus (Cowan, 1937)

P. maniculatus anacapae (von Bloeker, 1942)

P. maniculatus angustus (Hall, 1932)

P. maniculatus anticostiensis (Moulthrop, 1937)

P. maniculatus argentatus (Copeland and Church, 1906)

P. maniculatus artemisiae (Rhoads, 1894)

P. maniculatus assimilis (Nelson and Goldman, 1931)

P. maniculatus austerus (Baird, 1855)

P. maniculatus bairdii (Hoy and Kennicott, 1857)

P. maniculatus balaclavae (McCabe and Cowen, 1945)

P. maniculatus beresfordi (Guiget, 1955)

P. maniculatus blandus (Osgood, 1904)

P. maniculatus borealis (Mearns, 1890)

P. maniculatus cancrivorus (McCabe and Cowen, 1945)

P. maniculatus carli (Guiget, 1955)

P. maniculatus catalinae (Elliot, 1903)

P. maniculatus cineritius (Allen, 1898)

P. maniculatus clementis (Mearns, 1896)

P. maniculatus coolidgei (Thomas, 1898)

P. maniculatus dorsalis (Nelson and Goldman, 1931)

P. maniculatus doylei (McCabe and Cowen, 1945)

P. maniculatus dubious (Allen, 1898)

P. maniculatus elusus (Nelson and Goldman, 1931)

P. maniculatus eremus (Osgood, 1909)

P. maniculatus exiguus (Allen, 1898)

P. maniculatus exterus (Nelson and Goldman, 1931)

P. maniculatus fulvus (Osgood, 1904)

P. maniculatus gambelii (Baird, 1858)

P. maniculatus georgiensis (Hall, 1938)

P. maniculatus geronimensis (Allen, 1898)

P. maniculatus gracilis (LeConte, 1855)

P. maniculatus hollisteri (Osgood, 1909)

P. maniculatus hueyi (Nelson and Goldman, 1932)

P. maniculatus inclarus (Goldman, 1939)

P. maniculatus interdictus (Anderson, 1932)

P. maniculatus isolatus (Cowan, 1935)

P. maniculatus labecula (Elliot, 1903)

P. maniculatus luteus (Osgood, 1905)

P. maniculatus magdalenae (Osgood, 1909)

P. maniculatus maniculatus (Wagner, 1845)

P. maniculatus margaritae (Osgood, 1909)

P. maniculatus maritimus (McCabe and Cowan, 1945)

P. maniculatus nebrascensis (Coues, 1877)

P. maniculatus nubiterrae (Rhoads, 1896)

P. maniculatus ozarkiarum (Black, 1935)

P. maniculatus pallescens (Allen, 1896)

P. maniculatus plumbeus (Jackson, 1939)

P. maniculatus pluvialis (McCabe and Cowan, 1945)

P. maniculatus rubidus (Osgood, 1901)

P. maniculatus rubriventer (McCabe and Cowan, 1945)

P. maniculatus rufinus (Merriam, 1890)

P. maniculatus sanctaerosae (von Bloeker, 1940)

P. maniculatus santacruzae (Nelson and Goldman, 1931)

P. maniculatus sartinensis (Guiguet, 1955)

P. maniculatus saturatus (Bangs, 1897)

P. maniculatus saxamans (McCabe and Cowan, 1945)

P. maniculatus serratus (Davis, 1939)

P. maniculatus sonoriensis (Le Conte,1853)

P. maniculatus streatori (Nelson and Goldman, 1931)

P. maniculatus triangularis (Guiguet, 1955)


* To be added.