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Peromyscus facts for kids

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Temporal range: Late Miocene – Recent
Peromyscus maniculatus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Cricetidae
Subfamily: Neotominae
Tribe: Reithrodontomyini
Genus: Peromyscus
Gloger, 1841

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Peromyscus is a genus of rodents. They are commonly referred to as deer mice, not to be confused with the chevrotain or "mouse deer." They are New World mice only distantly related to the common house and laboratory mouse, Mus musculus. From this relative, Peromyscus species are distinguished by relatively larger eyes, and also often two-tone coloring, with darker colors over the dorsum (back), and white abdominal and limb hair-coloring. In reference to the coloring, the word Peromyscus comes from Greek words meaning "booted mouse". They are also accomplished jumpers and runners by comparison to house mice, and their common name of "deer mouse" (coined in 1833) is in reference to this agility.

The most common species of deer mice in the continental United States are two closely related species, P. maniculatus and P. leucopus. In the United States, Peromyscus is the most populous mammalian genus overall, and has become notorious in the western United States as a carrier of hantaviruses.

Reservoir of human disease


The deer mouse came to the attention of the public when it was discovered to be the primary reservoir species for Sin Nombre hantavirus.

Lyme disease

A recent study in British Columbia of 218 deer mice showed 30% (66) were seropositive for Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease.

Other diseases

Ehrlichiosis and babesiosis are also carried by the deer mouse.

Use as a laboratory animal

While wild populations are sometimes studied, Peromyscus species are also easy to breed and keep in captivity, although they are more energetic and difficult to handle than the relatively more tame M. musculus. For certain studies, They are also favored over the laboratory mouse (M. musculus domestica) and the laboratory rat (Rattus norvegicus domestica). Apart from their importance in studying infectious diseases, Peromyscus species are useful for studying phylogeography, speciation, chromosomes, genetics, ecology, population genetics, conservation and evolution in general. They are also useful for researching repetitive-movement disorders. Their use in aging research is because Peromyscus spp., despite being of similar size to the standard laboratory mouse, have maximum lifespans of 5–7 years, compared to the 3-year maximum lifespan of ad libitum-fed laboratory strains or wild-caught M. musculus.

The Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center at the University of South Carolina was established by Professor Wallace Dawson in 1985 to raise animals of the peromyscine species for research and educational use. This institute maintains populations of several different species (including Peromyscus californicus, Peromyscus maniculatus, Peromyscus melanophrys, Peromyscus eremicus, and Peromyscus aztecus). A variety of mutations affecting their behavior, biochemistry, and the color of their coats is exhibited in these genetic lines.


  • Peromyscus
    • californicus group
    • eremicus group
      • Cactus mouse – P. eremicus
      • Angel Island mouse – P. guardia – possibly extinct
        • P. g. guardia – last seen 1991
        • P. g. mejiae – extinct (1973)
        • P. g. harbisoni – extinct (1963)
        • P. guardia subsp. indet. from Estanque Island – extinct (1998)
      • San Lorenzo mouse – P. interparietalis
      • Northern Baja deer mouse– P. fraterculus
      • Dickey's deer mouse – P. dickeyi
      • False canyon mouse – P. pseudocrinitus
      • Eva's desert mouseP. eva
      • Burt's deer mouse– P. caniceps
      • Mesquite mouse – P. merriami
      • Pemberton's deer mouse – P. pembertoni – extinct (1931)
    • hooperi group
      • Hooper's mouse – P. hooperi
    • crinitus group
      • Canyon mouse – P. crinitus
    • maniculatus group
      • North American deer mouseP. maniculatus
      • Oldfield mouse or beach mouse – P. polionotus
        • P. p. allophrys
        • P. p. ammobates
        • Pallid beach mouse P. p. decoloratus – extinct (1959)
        • P. p. leucocephalus
        • P. p. niveiventris
        • P. p. peninsularis
        • Anastasia Island beach mouse P. p. phasma
        • P. p. trissyllepsis
      • Santa Cruz mouse – P. sejugis
      • Slevin's mouse – P. slevini
      • Northwestern deer mouseP. keeni
      • Black-eared mouse – P. melanotis
      • Arctic deer mouse – P. arcticus
      • Baja deer mouse – p. gambelli
      • Sonoran deer mouse – P. sonorensis
      • P. labecula
      • †Giant island deer mouse – P. nesodytes – extinct
    • leucopus group
      • White-footed mouse– P. leucopus
      • Cotton mouseP. gossypinus
        • Key Largo cotton mouse P. g. allapaticola
        • †Chadwick Beach cotton mouse P. g. restrictus – extinct (1938)
    • aztecus group
      • Aztec mouse – P. aztecus
      • Gleaning mouse – P. spicilegus
      • Winkelmann's mouse – P. winkelmanni
      • Oaxacan deer mouse – P. oaxacensis
      • Transvolcanic deer mouse – P. hylocetes
    • boylii group
      • Brush mouseP. boylii
      • Nimble-footed mouse – P. levipes
      • Schmidly's deer mouse – P. schmidlyi
      • San Esteban Island mouse – P. stephani
      • La Palma deer mouse – P. sagax
      • Nayarit mouse – P. simulus
      • Tres Marías Island mouse – P. madrensis
      • Orizaba deer mouse – P. beatae
      • Carleton's deer mouse – P. carletoni
      • Kilpatrick's deer mouse – P. kilpatricki
      • Chihuahuan mouse – P. polius
    • truei group
      • Perote mouse - P. bullatus
      • Zacatecan deer mouse or southern rock mouse – P. difficilis
      • Osgood's mouse – P. gratus
      • Northern rock mouse – P. nasutus
      • Pinyon mouse – P. truei
      • Texas mouse – P. attwateri
      • Southern white-ankled mouseP. pectoralis
      • Northern white-ankled mouse – P. laceianus
      • El Carrizo deer mouse – P. ochraventer
    • melanophrys group
      • Plateau mouse – P. melanophrys
      • Puebla deer mouse – P. mekisturus – possibly extinct
      • Tawny deer mouse – P. perfulvus
    • furvus group
      • Blackish deer mouse – P. furvus
      • Wide-rostrum deer mouse – P. latirostris
    • megalops group
      • Brown deer mouse – P. megalops
      • Zempoaltepec – P. melanocarpus - assignment to the species group tentative
      • Black-tailed mouse – P. melanurus
    • mexicanus group
      • Gardner's deer mouse – P. gardneri
      • Big deer mouse – P. grandis
      • Guatemalan deer mouse – P. guatemalensis
      • Naked-eared deer mouse – P. gymnotis
      • Maya mouse – P. mayensis
      • Chimoxan deer mouse – P. tropicalis
      • Talamancan deer mouse – P. nudipes
      • Nicaraguan deer mouse – P. nicaraguae
      • Salvadoran deer mouse – P. salvadorensis
      • Mexican deer mouse – P. mexicanus
      • Stirton's deer mouse – P. stirtoni
      • Yucatán deer mouse – P. yucatanicus
      • Carol Patton's deer mouse – P. carolpattonae
      • Baker's deer mouse – P. bakeri
      • Chiapan deer mouse – P. zarhynchus
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Peromyscus Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.