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Did You Know? Pacific Pocket Mouse Facts For Kids

Contents
Pacific Pocket Mouse on ground

The Pacific pocket mouse (Perognathus longimembris pacificus) is one of the many subspecies of pocket mice (Perognathus longimembris) of the rodent family Heteromyidae. Endemic to southern California, North America, the Pacific pocket mouse subspecies is the smallest member of the family and is listed as an Endangered species by the Endangered Species Act, 1973.

Like all members of the Heteromyidae family, Pacific pocket mice are nocturnal animals that primarily feed on seeds and grains. In addition, these mice have a silky covering of body hair and external, fur-lined cheek pouches. They mostly inhabit coastal sage scrub habitats with sandy coastal soils, fine-grain, or gravelly substrates. Historically, Pacific pocket mice have been known to inhabit river alluvium, coastal dunes, and sage scrub habitats within about 2.8 mi (4 km) of the ocean. Presently, the Pacific pocket mouse's habitat range mainly includes locations in coastal southern California.

A unique feature of the Pacific pocket mouse is that it is the smallest mammal that hibernates. However, instead of accumulating fat reserves for adverse times, these tiny animals cache seeds in their burrows to sustain through the winter. Unfortunately, this pocket mouse subspecies is an endangered species vulnerable to extinction owing to large-scale habitat loss and fragmentation in the wild.

There's more to this endangered pocket mouse. Read on to know!

If you like reading about the Pacific pocket mouse, do check out interesting facts about the white-footed mouse and harvest mouse.

Pacific Pocket Mouse Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Pacific pocket mouse?

The Pacific pocket mouse (Perognathus longimembris pacificus) is a subspecies of the little pocket mouse and belongs to the rodent family Heteromyidae.

What class of animal does a Pacific pocket mouse belong to?

The Pacific pocket mouse belongs to the class of Mammalia.

How many Pacific pocket mice are there in the world?

All population estimates show that approximately 150 Pacific pocket mice are left in the wild.

Where does a Pacific pocket mouse live?

The Pacific pocket mouse is endemic to coastal southern and southwestern California, North America. Earlier, the habitat range extended from the El Segundo and Marina del Ray in Los Angeles County up to the U.S.-Mexican border in San Diego County. However, the mice population has not been recorded in Los Angeles County since 1938. In San Diego County, populations have been recorded from four locations, namely, the lower Tijuana River Valley, Penasquitos Lagoon, areas close to the Santa Margarita River Estuary, and San Onofre.

Populations of the Pacific pocket mouse have also been confirmed from Dana Point and the San Joaquin Hills in Orange County. The Dana Point Headlands was discovered in the 1930s and is the only known Pacific pocket mouse habitat occupied by the extant population. In addition, extant Pacific pocket mouse populations had also been reported in 1995 from two locations in the U.S. Marine Corps Base in Camp Pendleton. The mice population is usually found close to the Pacific Ocean, not further than 2.8 mi (4 km) from the coast.

What is a Pacific pocket mouse's habitat?

In the wild, the Pacific pocket mouse occupies sandy, gravelly, or fine-grain substrate habitats close to the Pacific Ocean. The animal has very limited habitat requirements and was earlier known to live in coastal sage scrubs on marine terraces, river alluvium, coastal dunes, and coastal strands.

Who do Pacific pocket mice live with?

Within their habitat, Pacific pocket mice only interact with members of their own species. Otherwise, they are pretty solitary animals and do not frequently engage in socializing. At other times, these mice are busy escaping predators like the gray fox, domestic cats, and feral cats. Other threats to the Pacific pocket mouse population include the exotic Argentine ants that invade the former's habitat in coastal sage scrub areas.

How long does a Pacific pocket mouse live?

A Pacific pocket mouse in the wild habitat has a lifespan of about three to five years. In captivity, the mice may live up to seven years. Due to predators, the life of the mice is vulnerable even in their own wild habitat. In captivity, the reproductive activity of the mice increases significantly.

How do they reproduce?

Although the breeding season of the Pacific pocket mouse is strongly influenced by temperature, food supply, and growth of plants, a peak in breeding activity is observed in spring. Years marked by lower than average rainfall might not see any reproduction at all. In addition, these mice do not have a high reproductive rate and do not produce large litters. After a gestation period that lasts 22-23 days, a female Pacific pocket mouse generally produces one to two litters a year with two to eight young mice in each litter. The young mice are born in nests located in underground burrows and can breed in the same season as they are born. The babies are weaned at about 30 days and attain breeding maturity by two to five months of birth. The Pacific pocket mice do not venture out of their habitat where they are born and feed on plants and vegetation that are available in the surroundings.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species does not list the Pacific pocket mouse. However, it is given Endangered status as per the Endangered Species Act of 1973, a U.S. federal law for protecting species at risk.

Pacific Pocket Mouse Fun Facts

What do Pacific pocket mice look like?

The Pacific pocket mouse has external fur-lined cheek pouches with silky, soft, and bristle-free fur covering its body. The upper side of the body is usually pinkish or brown, and the lower side is white. In fact, since the environment of the Pacific pocket mouse has an impact on its coat color, the animal's coat takes on the color of the soil. A distinctive physical feature of the Pacific pocket mouse is that its ears are tipped with patches of light hairs. Another unique characteristic is that its hind feet soles are hairy. The tail is usually bi-colored.

How cute are they?

Their sheer small size makes the Pacific pocket mouse look utterly cute and adorable.

How do they communicate?

No information is available regarding the specific communicative behavior of the Pacific pocket mouse. However, like most other mice species, the Pacific pocket mouse may use body language and pheromones to communicate with its own kind. The Pacific pocket mouse's sounds or calls, if any, would comprise squeaks in a frequency range not audible to the human ear.

How big is a Pacific pocket mouse?

An adult Pacific pocket mouse measures about 4.2-5.2 in (10.6-13.2 cm) from the tip of the nose to the tail. The tail alone is about 2.1 in (5.3 cm) long, and the mouse stands at about 0.6 in (1.5 cm) tall, small enough to literally fit into a pocket! This pocket mouse subspecies is roughly the same size as the house mouse (Mus musculus) and wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) of the family Muridae.

How fast can a Pacific pocket mouse run?

No information is available regarding how fast these mice run. Owing to their tiny stature, it is expected that the Pacific pocket mouse would be pretty fast!

How much does a Pacific pocket mouse weigh?

An adult Pacific pocket mouse weighs about 0.25-0.33 oz (7-9.3 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

While an adult pocket mouse is called a buck, a female would be called a doe.

What would you call a baby Pacific pocket mouse?

A baby pocket mouse would be called a pup, kitten, or pinkie.

What do they eat?

The Pacific pocket mouse is a granivore feeding on nuts, seeds, grains, and vegetation.

Are they dangerous?

While the small size of the Pacific pocket mouse makes it seem harmless, it could be a carrier of diseases that could spread to humans and pose serious health risks.

Would they make a good pet?

No doubt, the cute and active Pacific pocket mouse looks like it will make an excellent and playful pet. However, the endangered status of this adorable mammal does not qualify it for keeping as a house pet. Besides, it is a wild mouse that lives a solitary life and hence, may not be friendly.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

The fur-lined cheek pouches of the Pacific pocket mouse are used to store food. Once the cheeks are filled with food, the mouse will unload the contents into safe compartments within its burrow.

What natural disaster has endangered the pocket mouse? 

The disasters that have endangered the Pacific pocket mouse to the verge of being extinct are more man-made than natural. Primary causes for the subspecies heading towards extinction include habitat degradation, destruction, and fragmentation arising due to human activities such as construction, off-road driving, illegal trash dumping, etc. Besides, domestic animal predators and invasive species further threaten the survival of this pocket mouse.

When was the Pacific pocket mouse discovered back? 

The Pacific pocket mouse was thought to have gone extinct for 20 years until, in 1993-94, a small population was rediscovered at Dana Point Headlands. The populations at Dana Point and the Marine Corps Base in Camp Pendleton are the only two extant ones.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Irish wolfhound facts and crab-eating macaque facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable wood mouse coloring pages.

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