Mice & Rats

Mice and rats, like voles, are small rodents found throughout the state of Pennsylvania. They are preyed upon by many other animals and breed quickly to replenish their numbers. Most mice do not hibernate. Five species of mice can be found in Pennsylvania: the deer mouse, the house mouse, the meadow jumping mouse, the white-footed mouse, and the woodland jumping mouse. One species of rat can be found: the Norway rat.

Deer Mouse

AppearanceDeer mice have fur that range between gray and brownish gray along their back and sides. Their bellies are pure white. They have large eyes well-adjusted to night vision.
Length6 to 8.5 inches, including a 3 to 4 inch tail
WeightAnywhere from 0.4 to 1 ounce
HabitatDeer mice are typically found in brushy lands, deep woods, farm fields, along fencerows, and around grassy roads.
FoodBerries, buds, corn, nuts, grains, beetles, caterpillars, crickets, earthworms, spiders, slugs, and carrion
PredatorsCats, foxes, hawks, mink, snakes, and weasels
Location in PennsylvaniaStatewide
Extra factsThe deer mouse will typically locate its food by smell.
They can run up to 5 miles per hour for short distances.
Females raise 3-4 litters annually, with anywhere from 3-7 young in each litter.

House Mouse

AppearanceHouse mice have gray fur that varies in shade. They also have scaly, hairless tails.
Length6 to 8 inches, including a 3 inch tail
WeightAnywhere from 0.5 to 1 ounce
HabitatHouse mice live in and around houses and farms.
FoodGrains, seeds, paper, glue, and household soaps
PredatorsSimilar to deer mouse
Location in PennsylvaniaStatewide
Extra factsThe house mouse is not originally native to North America—it came over with European settlers in the 1770s.
They can run up to 8 miles per hour.

Meadow Jumping Mouse

AppearanceMeadow jumping mice have large feet, long hind legs, and long, skinny tails. Their fur is yellowish brown (with a dark stripe) on their  backs, orangish along their sides, and white along their bellies.
Length8 to 9 inches, including 5 to 6 inch tail
WeightApprox. 0.6 ounces
HabitatMeadow jumping mice often live in grassy fields, around thick vegetation, and on the edges of woods.
FoodBerries, fungi, grasses, nuts, roots, seeds, earthworms, insects, spiders, and slugs
PredatorsSimilar to deer mouse
Location in PennsylvaniaStatewide
Extra factsMeadow jumping mice do not usually jump but they will hop short distances.
Unlike other mice species, the meadow jumping mouse hibernates during the winter.

White-Footed Mouse

AppearanceWhite-footed mice look similar to deer mice, with reddish brown fur and shorter tails.
Length6 to 7.5 inches, including 2.5 to 3.5 inch tail
Weight0.6 to 1 ounce
HabitatWhite-footed mice live in fencerows, fields, pastures, woods, rhododendron thickets, farm buildings, and houses.
FoodBerries, fungi, nuts, seeds, beetles, caterpillars, centipedes, snails, small birds, and other mice
PredatorsSimilar to deer mouse
Location in PennsylvaniaStatewide
Extra factsThe white-footed mouse is thought to be Pennsylvania’s most abundant rodent.
They are agile and can climb trees.
White-footed mice eat 1/3 of their body weight every day.
Males will sometimes help females with raising their young.

Woodland Jumping Mouse

AppearanceWoodland jumping mice have bright yellowish-brown fur on their backs and sides and white fur along their bellies. Their tails have a white tuft on the end.
Length8.4 to 9.8 inches, including 5.5 inch tail
WeightSimilar to meadow jumping mice
HabitatWoodland jumping mice can be found near streams and in hardwood forests with lots of hemlock trees.
FoodBerries, fungi, green plants, nuts, seeds, insects, and worms
PredatorsBobcats, mink, screech owls, skunks, snakes, and weasels
Location in PennsylvaniaStatewide
Extra factsWoodland jumping mice will take many large bounds and then stop suddenly under cover to escape predators.
Like the related meadow jumping mouse, woodland jumping mice hibernate in the winter.

Norway Rat

AppearanceNorway rats have fur that ranges in color from gray-brown to red. Their fur is darker along their backs and paler along their bellies. They have scaly, naked tails.
LengthAnywhere from 12 to 18 inches, including 6 to 9 inch tail
WeightAnywhere from 10 ounces to more than 1 pound
HabitatNorway rats typically live in and under barns and other farm buildings, in city sewers, and in dumps. They also live around rivers, streams, marshes, and open fields.
FoodEggs, fish, fruits, grains, garden crops, nuts, vegetables, carrion and garbage
PredatorsCats, dogs, hawks, mink, owls, and snakes
Location in PennsylvaniaStatewide
Extra factsLike the house mouse, Norway rats came over with European settlers.
They have poor eyesight.
Norway rats live in colonies and share territory with other rat families.
They can carry a variety of diseases including rabies, tularemia, typhus, and the bubonic plague.


Mice and rats leave droppings everywhere they inhabit. They will climb into drawers, pantries, attics, and garages. They will destroy food and wires, and stain carpets and rugs. They can carry and transmit multiple types of viruses and diseases to humans through a bite or their feces.


Mice and rats can be trapped with a variety of snap traps, live-catch devices, and glue boards.  Poisons are also available to remove both mice and rats. Repairing homes and other buildings that are infested with mice and rats is recommended once the animals are removed. Many times, these rodents will move in more aggressively when the weather starts to turn cold.

To learn more about mice and rats, check out the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wildlife notes.