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Deer Mice
© Michael Emerson.

Originally published on
Reprinted here without permission to preserve this information.
I have no contact information for Michael.


There are two Subgenera and 55 species in Peromyscus. This page will refer to Peromyscus manrculatus which inhabits all most all of North America and several Islands from Alaska to Mexico.

Deer Mice
Normal colored male on the left, white belly Non-Agouti female on the right, with babies tucked behind


The basic care and feeding of deer mice is the same as for the more common pet mouse. So I will not discuss it here at this time. But will update it later.

Deer mice are energetic little animals and therefore I find it best to supply them with larger cages. I like to use twenty-gallon long aquariums to house up to 12 animals, I supply several wheels, branches for climbing and several nesting hide boxes. One of which is almost always used to store food.

Deer Mice
4 deer mice: one normal agouti, a white bellied Non-agouti, a Non-agouti (AKA Black) and a young gray probably will be a normal agouti when he molts.

I use hard wire mesh covers with cage clamps as Deer mice are excellent little escape artists and once out they may not be recaptured. Although smart animals I tend to find them a bit slow to learn as I caught the same animal 10 times in the same live trap in one night.

Deer Mice
Two week old Non Agouti (aka Black) pup sitting in a feed dish


Deer mice kept in captivity have the ability to reproduce all year long. Gestation is 20 to 23 days, with a litter of 2 to 10, usually 6 or 7 average. the babies are born blind, hairless and helpless. at a week old they have a coat of fur. The eyes open at 14 days and at 21 days they are weaned and mom may have a new litter. They are sexually mature at 60 days. Deer [mice] may live up to 7 years in captivity. There are a number of mutations in deer mice. These are as follows.

Deer Mice
5 week old Non-agouti


A recessive mutation: Albino animals are pure white with pink eyes and flesh colored ears. Albino deer mice look very much like albino house mice commonly seen as pets.

A recessive mutation: Ashy animals start out appearing normal but slowly turn almost pure white retaining the black eyes.

A dominant gene: These animals are mostly black with black bellies. The toes and feet may be white - this may be bred out with selective breeding as well there may be a white chest spot. This is an allele of Non agouti and non agouti white bellied.

A recessive gene: The Blond gene reduces the pigmentation on the hairs end this giving the animals a lighter tan cast. The ears lack pigment and the eye coloration is also reduced.

A recessive gene: The coat of Brown mice is actually a more yellowish orange, with the ears, tail and soles of the feet being brown.

California Blonde
A recessive gene: These mice have a lighter tan coat then the Blonde deer mice, the ears have no pigment nor does the skin. The eyes are a dark brown ruby.

This color appeared in my colony recently and as to date I have been unable to find any references to it. The sole female has had several litters with the babies all failing to survive past 3 days. It could be that this is a combanation of genes or a new dilution gene. The sole female is a light milk chocolate color with dark ruby eyes. The coat color reminds me of a chocolate lab. (I hope to get a pic of her on her soon)

Dominant Spot
A dominant gene with a varable exspression trait: These animals have radium patches of white on the body and no two animals are excatly alike. This gene can be combined with any of the other color mutations.

Golden Nugget
I am still looking for a description of these.

A recessive mutation: The gray gene produces animals with a greyish peppery coat. This effect is not achived until after the first aduilt molt and the effect increases with age. This gene can be found in isolated wild populations.

A recessive gene: As the name would apply these animals are of a very light grayish white color, with animals becoming lighter with age. The eyes are ruby, ears are flashed colored.

Pink-Eyed Dilution
A recessive gene: The effects of this gene are to lighten the coat color to a pale yellowy buff color, the eyes are pink to ruby, ears are flash colored.

A recessive mutation: The under coat of these animals is greatly diluted, this the animals have an almost white appearance.

Tan Streak
A recessive gene: As the name implies animals with this gene have a tan streak running down the back with the rest of the coat being white much like the hooded rats.

Variable White
A simi-domimant lethal gene with a variable expression trait: Animals with this trait can be anywhere from almost normal to pure white with black eyes, with animals halfway being seen most often. Resembling the Platinum gene in Campbells Dwarf hamster.

White-Belly Non Agouti
A dominant gene: Mice with this coat are predominantly black in color with a white belly. This is an allele of Wide band agouti and Black or non-agouti

Wide band Agouti
Dominant gene: Mice with this gene have a yellower coat color than wild type. This gene is an allele of the White-bellies non agouti and black or non-agouti, and resebles the yellowish in color.

A recessive gene: The coat color of yellowing Mice ranges in color from a clay to a bright orange. Eyes and ears remain the normal dark color.

There are two reported Hairless mutations in Deer Mice, Both are recessive genes and both work in the same fashion. The hairless mutation has occurred twice: once in 1924 and again in 1962 in two different stock lines. Hairless animals are devoid of all hair on the body, however one type has whiskers while the other type either lacks the whiskers or has very short curly whiskers.

I hope to update the descriptions of some of these colors asap as well as add more photos. Also note that there are more mutations in coat color and I will be adding them as I hear about them and that most of these mutations are held only in labs and not currently available to the public sector. I am expecting new stock in soon.

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