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Although laboratory mice (Mus) and rats (Rattus) are the most widely used research rodents, deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) and their congeneric species are favored as nontraditional alternatives for some purposes. Mice of the native genus Peromyscus are the most abundant and widely distributed rodents in North America. They occur in a great diversity of habitats and play a significant role in natural ecosystems. Because of their abundance, peromyscines are commonly hosts for larva of ticks that transmit
Lyme disease bacteria, and they are implicated in several other vector-borne diseases. Deer mice also are the principal carriers of the virus that causes hantaviral pulmonary syndrome, or "Four Corners
disease." Deer mice are useful as laboratory models for a variety of other types of pure and applied research. They are easily maintained and bred in captivity using the husbandry protocols developed for other small laboratory rodent species. The Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center at the University of South Carolina maintains more than 50 laboratory-bred, well-characterized stocks of deer mice and other peromyscine species for research and educational use.