This photograph depicted a deer mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus
, which has been determined to be one of the reservoirs and transmitters of the Hantavirus
. Through the deposition of its waste products in, and around human habitation, this mouse becomes a carrier of the virus responsible for causing Hantavirus
pulmonary syndrome, or HPS.
P. maniculatus is a deceptively cute animal, with big eyes and big ears. Its head and body are normally about 2 - 3 inches long, and the tail adds another 2 - 3 inches in length. You may see it in a variety of colors, from gray to reddish brown, depending on its age. The underbelly is always white and the tail has sharply defined white sides. The deer mouse is found almost everywhere in North America. Though this mouse prefers woodlands, it also turns up in desert areas.