Cotton Mouse

Scientific Name
Peromyscus gossypinus
Also Known As
Cotton Deer Mouse
All of Florida Except the Keys
Plants and Insects
Life Expectancy
1 Year
Florida Cotton Mouse

Photo 180709664 (c) Isaac Lord, CC BY-NC

Cotton Mouse conservation status - Least Concern

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Cotton Mice in Central Florida

The cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus) is a small rodent native to the southeastern United States, including central Florida.

Often confused with the white-footed mouse, cotton mice can be identified by their larger size, grayish-brown fur, and habitat preferences. This guide provides identification tips, biology facts, and prevention methods for cotton mice inhabiting urban and suburban areas of central Florida.

Appearance and Identification

Cotton mice can be distinguished from similar Peromyscus species by examining both juvenile and adult physical characteristics

Adult Cotton Mouse

Photo 21362064 (c) Joshua Doby, CC BY-NC

Adult Cotton Mice

  • Size: Adults reach 17-20 cm long including the tail and weigh 35-50 grams. Their bodies alone are 8-10 cm long.
  • Tail: The tail is slightly furred, about as long as the head and body combined in adults.
  • Fur: The upperparts are brownish-gray mixed with tawny and black hairs. The underparts are pale gray. The fur is moderately long and soft.
  • Head: Rounded muzzle, prominent black eyes, and moderately sized ears.
  • Feet: Small feet with thin toes and tiny claws adapted for climbing and gripping.
Juvenile Cotton Mouse

Juvenile Cotton Mice

  • Size: Newborns weigh around 2-3 grams. They reach up to 30 grams in weight and 7 centimeters long at 5-6 weeks old.
  • Fur: Juvenile cotton mice have grayish fuzzy fur over their entire body, including the tail. The fur is short and soft as they grow.
  • Features: Younger mice have larger heads, feet, and ears proportional to their smaller body size. The tail is about as long as the body and head combined.

Cotton mice are larger with more tawny fur compared to white-footed mice. Their feet and tail lack the stark white underside of white-footed mice. Runways through vegetation, nests, tracks, and gnaw marks help identify cotton mice infestations.

Maturation Rate

Young cotton mice grow rapidly, reaching reproductive maturity by 6 weeks old. They are independent after weaning around 21 days of age. The average lifespan is about 1 year in the wild. Their high reproductive rate allows cotton mice to quickly rebound after control efforts.

Habits and Behavior

Cotton mice are nocturnal and most active during dawn and dusk hours. They prefers fields, scrublands, and wetland edges with dense grassy vegetation or brushy shrubs. Inside structures, cotton mice tend to occupy lower areas like basements and crawlspaces.

Outdoors, they construct globular nests made of shredded plant matter on the ground or low in bushes. Cotton mice can access homes through small openings around foundations. They are more solitary and territorial than house mice.

Reproduction and Lifespan

Cotton mice can breed year-round in central Florida. Females produce 2-3 litters per year with 1-7 young per litter. The gestation period is 23 days. Females may nest together when raising litters.