I found this little deer mouse in the bird seed bin. Upon release, the deer mouse quickly scaled the brick wall to escape from a potential predator (me). I was amazed that the mouse was able to climb two storeys without falling!
Deer Mouse Trail
These tracks are from either a Deer Mouse or a White-Footed Mouse. It is difficult to tell the difference without looking at the tail of the mammal that made the tracks. Note the characteristic bounding pattern and tail drag in deep snow.
This photo shows a deer mouse trail that is a day or two old. It has been covered by a light dusting of snow. The impression is a trail of small rectangles. It could potentially be confused with a grouse trail. We followed it to a log where there were clear deer mouse tracks underneath. Deer mice tend to bound overland in deep snow rather than tunnel into the snow like voles or shrews.
While tracking with Dan Gardoqui in Algonquin Park, he showed me what to look for when identifying clear tracks for voles, shrews and mice. Voles and mice have four toes on their front feet and five toes on their rear feet. Shrews have five toes on their front and five on their rear feet.
Scat and Feeding Sign
I learned that mice and voles are opportunistic when it comes to finding ways to access food on the surface of the snow. They make use of plant stems and animal tracks to enter and exit the subnivean world. The rodent that ate the milkweed seeds in the previous two photos used the tunnel-sized, snow-free zone created by the stem of the plant as an access point to the surface. In the next photo, you will see how a deer mouse used a deer track as an access point to the surface of the subnivean world. It is fascinating how small mammals make use of creative travel routes and secret passageways in the winter.
Deer Mouse Tunnel Entrance