Meadow & Woodland Jumping Mouse

Meadow Jumping Mouse,Zapus hudsonius and
Woodland Jumping Mouse,Napaeozapus insignis

Order: Rodentia
Suborder: Myomorpha (mouse-like rodents)
Family: Zapodidae
Species: Zapus Hudsonius, Napaeozapus insignis

General Description The Meadow jumping mouse is slender with long hind legs as well as a long tail.  It has a small head, large ears, is covered with a fine fur, and a bi-coloured, scantily haired tail.  The fur on the belly is white and a faint yellow line can be seen separating the underbelly from the blackened sides.  They have a characteristic black line on their back that extends from nose to tail.  The Woodland jumping mouse, somewhat larger in size than the medow jumping mouse, looks basically the same as the Meadow jumping mouse.  However, they do have a white tip at the end of their tail and their cheeks and sides are golden yellow.  Jumping mice closely resemble regular mice and have similar body size (5-10 cm) and weight (8-25g).  Two aspects that distinguishe jumping mice from regular mice is their relative tail size (6.5-16cm) and hind leg length.  Their long back feet enable them to jump and their long tails serve to keep their balance while in air.  The Medow jumping mouse is likely to crawl under vegetation and move quickly with a series of short hops.  As a contrast, the Woodland jumping mouse moves by bounding up to 3 meters at a time.  They sit in a kangaroo-like posture, on their hind legs, and use their front feet for eating and gathering food.

Geographical Distribution and Habitat Requirements Meadow jumping mice can be found in the lush grassy or weedy medows all over New Brunswick.  They prefer meadows that are not harvested for hay but can be seen frantically hopping ahead of noisy farm machines.  Thy can also be seen in abundance in wooded areas and patches of lush vegetation that are free of woodland jumping mice.   Woodland jumping mice can almost exclusivly be found in the wooded areas of New Brunswick and are most abundant in wooded areas with heavy ground cover.  Meadow jumping mice can be found in a wide belt across North America extending from the Atlantic coast to western Alaska.  The Woodland jumping mouse is confined to eastern North America.

General Biology Meadow jumping mice have a diet that consists of mainly grass seeds and other available seeds but are known to eat many other things.  They also eat animal seeds such as moth larvae, ground and snout beetles.  Woodland jumping mice feed on subterranean fungi, herbs, roots, seeds, and fruit.  They can eat buttercups, iris tubers, mitrewort, May apples, fruits of alders, wintergreen berries, rasberries, strawberries etc.  Their diet also includes insect larvae, pupae, and adults including butterflies, dragonflies, catterpillars, beetles, etc.  Jumping mice are mostly nocturnal and remain close to the cover of vegetation or forest debris on these excursions.  They construct hollow spheres of woven grass or leaves on or slightly above ground.  There is usually a runway leading up to these nests.  Woodland jumping mice are also know to tunnel into soil, under roots and rocks, along banks.  According to species, location, and elevation, Jumping mice hibernate for 6-9 months.  The Meadow jumping mouse hibernates generally from October to the end of April and the Woodland jumping mice, from late Sept to the first week in May.  The males are generally seen above ground two weeks before the females.  Before entering their underground burrows (1 to 3 feet) for hibernation, they take on a large amount of fat (up to the same amount as their natural body weight).  Jumping mice give birth to their young in burrow, a clump of vegetation, or some protected place.  The gestation period is a rather short 17 to 21 days, depending on whether or not the female is lactating.  Litters average 4 to 8 young that are born naked and blind.  The ears open after 20 days, the eyes after 25 days, and become weaned after four weeks.  The average life expectancy for animals living in the wild (4 years) is higher than that of equally sized non-hibernating mice.

Conservation Both of these jumping mice have a secure conservation status.  They are far from being close to extinct and aren’t regarded as threatened species.  They occur abundantly in said regions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *