Deer and White-footed Mouse Damage Prevention and Control

Identification | Biology | Damage ID | Management | Handling

Overview of Damage Prevention and Control Methods

Habitat Modification

  • Store food items left in cabins or other infrequently used buildings in rodent-proof containers
  • Store furniture cushions, drawers, and other items in infrequently used buildings in ways that reduce nesting sites


  • Rodent-proof construction – seal all openings larger than ¼ inch wide 
  • Cover openings with ¼-inch wire mesh or fill with stainless steel or copper wool 
  • Use harware cloth (1.4-inch mesh) or similar materials to exclude mice from garden seed beds


  • Not effective  


  • None registered


Be sure to follow current EPA requirements; legal use of toxicants to control mice has been changing due to the number of accidental poisonings of non-targets (children and pets).

  • Anticoagulant rodenticides  (bromethalin, bromadialone, chlorophacinone, difethialone, warfarin)
  • Zinc phosphide
  • No fumigants are registered


  • Shooting is not recommended 


  • Snap traps 
  • Box- (Sherman) typ traps
  • Automatic multiple-catch traps 

Other Control Methods 

  • Alternative feeding: Experiments suggest that application of sunflower seed may significantly reduce consumption of conifer seed in forest reseeding operations, although the tests have not been followed to regeneration.

Damage Prevention and Control Methods

Habitat Modification

Store foodstuffs such as dry pet food, grass seed, and boxed groceries left in cabins in rodent-proof containers.

Mouse damage can be reduced in cabins or other buildings that are used only occasionally, by removing or limiting nesting opportunities for mice. Remove padded cushions from sofas and chairs and store them on edge, separate from one another, preferably off the floor. Remove drawers in empty cupboards or chests and reinsert them upside-down, eliminating them as suitable nesting sites. Other such techniques can be invented to outwit mice. Remember that white-footed and deer mice are excellent climbers. They frequently enter buildings by way of fireplace chimneys, so seal off fireplaces when not in use.

When cleaning areas previously used by mice, take precautions to reduce exposure to dust, their excreta, and carcasses of dead mice. Where deer mice or related species may be reservoirs of hantaviruses, disinfected the area thoroughly by spraying it with a disinfectant or a solution of diluted household bleach prior to beginning any swepping, vacuuming, or handling of surfaces or materials with which mice have had contact. Use appropriate protective clothing, including vinyl or latex gloves. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for current recommendations when handling rodents or cleaning areas previously infested.


There are no methods known for successfully keeping white-footed or deer mice out of structures by means of sound. Ultrasonic devices that are commercially sold and advertised to control rodents and other pests have not proven to give satisfactory control.


No repellents are registered for deer or white-footed mice.


Be sure to follow current EPA requirements; legal use of toxicants to control mice has been changing due to the number of accidental poisonings of non-targets (children and pets). Most states require a commercial pesticide applicators license before applying rodenticides as a business service. General Use Pesticides (GUP) are toxicants that homeowners can purchase over-the-counter without a license for use on their own property. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken steps to limit access to rodenticides based on active ingredient and type of application. Always read the label and check the most recent regulations.

Anticoagulants. Anticoagulant baits such as warfarin, diphacinone, chlorophacinone, brodifacoum, and bromadiolone are all quite effective on white-footed and deer mice, although they are not specifically registered for use on these species. Brodifacoum and bromadiolone, unlike the other anticoagulants, may be effective in a single feeding. If baiting in and around structures is done for house mice in accordance with label directions, white-footed and deer mice usually will be controlled. No violation of pesticide laws should be involved since the “site” of bait application is the same.

Behavioral differences may result in white-footed and deer mice carrying off and hoarding more bait than house mice normally do. For this reason, loose-grain bait formulations or secured paraffin wax bait blocks may be more effective, since these cannot be easily carried off. Cabins should be baited before being left unoccupied. For further information on anticoagulant baits and their use, see Damage Prevention and Control for House Mice.

Zinc phosphide. Various zinc phosphide grain baits (1.0% to 2.0% active ingredient) are registered for the control of Peromyscus as well as voles and for post-harvest application in orchards and at other sites. Zinc phosphide is a single-dose toxicant, and all formulations are Restricted Use Pesticides. Follow label directions when applying. There are few damage situations where control of white-footed or deer mice require the use of zinc phosphide.

Fumigants. None are registered for white-footed or deer mice. Because of the species’ habitat, there are few situations where fumigation would be practical or necessary.


Ordinary mouse snap traps, sold in most grocery and hardware stores, are effective in catching white-footed and deer mice. Bait traps with peanut butter, sunflower seed, or moistened rolled oats. For best results, use several traps even if only a single mouse is believed to be present. Set traps as you would for house mice: against walls, along likely travel routes, and behind objects. Automatic traps designed to live-capture several house mice in a single setting also are effective against white-footed and deer mice. They should be checked frequently to dispose of captured mice in an appropriate manner: euthanize them with carbon dioxide gas in a closed container, or release them alive into an appropriate location where they won’t cause future problems. For further details on trapping, see amage Prevention and Control for House Mice.

Other Control Methods

Research has revealed the possibility that supplemental feeding at time of seeding can increase survival of conifer seed by reducing predation by deer mice, although the tests were not carried out to germination.

Sunflower seed, and a combination of sunflower and oats, were applied along with Douglas fir and lodgepole pine seed in ratios ranging from two to seven alternate foods to one conifer seed. Significantly more conifer seeds survived mouse predation for the 6- and 9-week test periods than without the supplemental feeding. For further details on the experimental use of this technique, see Sullivan and Sullivan (1982a and 1982b).