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Eastern harvest mouse view from above. The mouse is resting on the ground among vegetation.

Eastern Harvest Mouse

Eastern harvest mice breed nearly year-round with peak in spring. They become sexually mature at 2-4 months.

Reithrodontomys humulis


The eastern harvest mouse is a small mouse, 5 in/12.6 cm with a tail as long as the head and body. Its back is deep brown or gray with some black, usually with a dark stripe running down the back. The sides of the eastern harvest mouse are lighter in color.  The grayish belly is distinguished by a strong line on the sides.  Ears are blackish all over. The tail is bicolored matching the body, darker above and lighter below. Eastern harvest mice have grooved incisors similar to other harvest mice.

Observation Tips

The eastern harvest mouse is found across the southeastern United States from Maryland to Florida to eastern Oklahoma and Texas. This mouse is nocturnal but may be active during daylight hours during cold weather. The easiest places to see this mouse is in old fields, meadows and thickets. During cold weather, eastern harvest mice huddle together in their nest to keep warm.

Interesting Fact

Eastern harvest mice breed nearly year-round with peak in spring.  They become sexually mature at 2-4 months.

Ideal Habitat

The eastern harvest mouse is found mainly in areas dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants including abandoned fields, roadside ditches, wet bottomlands, marshes, wet meadows, and briar thickets. These mice require dense vegetation (>80% herbaceous cover).  They construct baseball-sized nests of shredded grass and other plant fibers on the ground in tangled vegetation, under debris, or above ground in a clump of grass. Eastern harvest mice eat seeds of forbs and grasses, and grain and to a lesser degree grasshoppers and crickets.

Eastern harvest mouse range map. Range is southeastern US and eastern Texas and Oklahoma.

Range map provided by International Union for Conservation of Nature

Management Activities that Benefit Species – Best Management Practices (BMPs)

Eastern harvest mouse habitat can be grazed by livestock.  Rotational grazing may better provide areas of denser vegetation to persist that are needed for nesting. Eastern harvest mice will also take advantage of roadsides, old fields, and field edges that are not heavily grazed.

Management Activities to Avoid

Avoid conversion of wet meadows, wetlands, and rangelands to cropland and residential development.  Avoid heavy grazing that removes all areas of dense vegetation.

Other Species that Benefit from Similar Habitat Management

Management for eastern harvest mice benefits other species that prefer dense vegetation as well as their predators, foxes, owls, and snakes.


Download the eastern harvest mouse Factsheet

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Other Resources

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 2014. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2021-1 Reithrodontomys humilis

NatureServe. 2021. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Eastern harvest mouse

Texas Tech University. Mammals of Texas. Eastern harvest mouse

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Eastern harvest mouse

Photo credit: Thomas Tooke/iNaturalist



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