A Field Day for Field Mice

It’s dead, Jim.

I am pretty familiar with what lives around the Hermits’ Rest, probably because looking for moving objects is one of my best skills; I seem to have been blessed with better-than-average peripheral vision. That helps with birds, snakes, and stuff. It also helps with rodents, so I’m pretty darned sure we have some big old tree rats (Rattus rattus, my favorite Latin name), along with a heck of a lot of mice and voles. We always see them when Lee shreds the pastures (along with a whole lot of happy hawks, caracaras, and falcons).

The past few weeks, though, I’ve gotten a LOT of practice in mouse identification and spotting. It started when I saw mouse poop in one of the bathrooms. I was just glad it wasn’t rat poop. Lee saw that one and said the dogs “played with it.” Then, I saw some in the other bedroom. Uh oh. Worse, Lee found a mouse in his car. I figure they came in looking for the food that is always in there.

However, when my sister and I got in my (totally food-free) car and were greeted by a friendly mouse face, I knew something was up. She fled, and I escorted that one out of the car. I was concerned. Why are we suddenly seeing so many mice in the house and garage, I wondered?

And when I found yet another one in the trunk of my car earlier this week, I told Lee to get traps (the kind that won’t hurt the dogs, of course). I’d left a dog biscuit in the car and a cup from a lemonade. Both showed evidence of being eaten. I thought, plastic can’t be good for a mouse. Sure enough, when I got off work, it was a former mouse n(shown above). I am forever grateful that Mousey didn’t choose to pass away under my seat rather than on top of it in full view. Dodged some stink there.

The hay is pretty, and the dogs loved the smells, but it left the mice homeless.

So, Why So Many Mice?

It turns out there’s a simple explanation for why there are so many mice in our buildings all of a sudden. The Vrazels had decided to mow the pasture next to the house for hay. This cuts the grass WAY shorter than the shredder does. So, they all became homeless. I figure that as soon as the grass grows a little bit, the problems will end. Until then, I hope the traps keep them to a minimum in the house and garage. I’d prefer they not eat the car wiring or stink up the house in places where the dogs aren’t available. And I could do without the hantavirus or whatever other diseases they carry around.

What Kind of Mouse Are They, Anyway?

I have discovered (from the fine folks at Texas Parks and Wildlife) that there is one non-native mouse in Texas, the house mouse, and it’s the one that likes to be indoors.  I would guess that’s what ours are, except that we live in a rural environment.

The rest of the mice in Texas, aren’t as fond of people’s homes. The Texas mouse doesn’t really live near the ranch, so we don’t have them. The white footed mouse does live in this area, and is often called a wood mouse here. When I asked the all-knowing iNauralist software, it said the mouse in my photo is probably in the deer mouse family (Peromyscus). That makes sense. According to the “four most common mice in Texas” there are also very prolific field mice here. Hey, they were in a field, you know.

I guess the answer to this one is that I won’t know until some expert on iNaturalist pipes up. While I did find the key to rodent identification in Texas, I am not enough of a super scientist to go through the process (plus, the dead mouse is gone, and I am hoping NOT to see another up close for a while, even if that would get me a better photo).


Readers, feel free to share your fun mouse experiences. Or not so fun.

I wrote about mice from a real estate perspective on my other blogs, if you want to check those out:

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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