You are here:

Mice/Deer Mice


Hello.  Years ago, we accidentally started keeping Deer Mice as pets when I found one in the cabinet and felt sorry for it. I was going to turn it loose in warmer weather.  Now, we have about 10 of them in a huge cage that used to house my bearded dragon.  We have had them for about 4 or 5 years.  We started out with 1 or 2.  They have had babies off and on and every once in a while one will die.  Anyway, they are so cute.  I put a picture of them on my Facebook. Everyone started telling me about the Hantavirus and now I am scared. I don't think ours would have it because almost all of them that we have now have been raised in captivity.  Do you think they are okay? I would hate to turn them loose, but now I am worried about this disease.  Any comments or suggestions would be helpful.
Thank you.

Hi Dee,

Hantavirus is scary, but it's also pretty uncommon. The CDC website has maps with occurrence levels for different areas, but the only real way to tell if YOUR mice carry it is to get their feces tested by a lab. There are ways to do this online by sending a sample for testing, and some vets will send it off for you, too.

Hantavirus is transmitted to people through mouse waste. The best way to protect yourself is to wear gloves and a mask while cleaning their cage, and to practice good hygiene by washing your hands before and after touching them. That's a good idea regardless! As long as you aren't sticking your head in the cage and sniffing, your risk is low.

The reason people get so worried is that even though the risk is minimal, the disease is serious. You've had these guys and their previous generations for years, though, so I'd be surprised.

In the end, how to proceed is up to you. There is always risk, but a lot of folks elect to simply take precautions rather than testing. I can't tell you to dismiss the idea completely. All I can do is educate. :)

Here is the CDC's page on Hantavirus:

And here is the cumulative incidence map (this is for ALL cases EVER, not only recent ones, of which there are only a handful):

Best of luck, and don't go sniffing mouse poop. :)


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts




I can answer questions regarding mice as pets, mouse behavior, color and coat genetics, breeding techniques, and general health questions. I can help with caging and setup, nutrition, social issues, and what to do in most mouse emergencies (such as unplanned litters, injuries, fighting, etc.). I can also assist with questions pertaining to orphaned mouse pups, weaning litters, and questions of mating and birthing. I cannot answer questions about exotic or wild varieties of mice such as spiny or pygmy mice. *****FOR EMERGENCIES, anything requiring immediate medical intervention, PLEASE take your mouse to a professional veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitator who works with mice as soon as possible! IMPORTANT RESOURCES: Raising Orphaned Mice: Orphaned Mice Videos: Natasha's Your First Mouse: General Mouse Help: Mouse Info and Exotic Breeds:


I have enjoyed the companionship of mice nonstop since 2004, and spent a year caring for them in a lab where I learned a great deal about their breeding, social needs, and health. I spent a few years breeding them, specifically working with albinos, marked mice, angora mice, and satins. My education never stopped - I am learning something new every day from current and well-established research thanks to the wonderful folks at the Jackson Laboratory, as well as from my wonderful mousey friends online. I also love learning from my terrific questioners here on AllExperts - you folks keep my passion for these amazing animals alive and well!

East Coast Mouse Association - expired, American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association - expired

Partial University for a B.S. in Microbiology, Partial University for a 2-year degree in Veterinary Technology (RVT cert), C.E. classes in pathogens, aseptic technique, genetics, and applications

©2016 All rights reserved.