Western Jumping Mouse

Zapus princeps

Western Jumping Mouse

Appearance

Western jumping mice have large hind legs and a band of dark fur on their back. Like other rodents, they have a long tail and pointed face. Smaller than most rats, the western jumping mice measure up to 25 centimetres in length.

Range & Habitat

They have quite a large range extending in Canada from southern Yukon to south-western Manitoba. Jumping mice are also common in the U.S. from California east to Montana and New Mexico. Because owls and foxes are their predators, these mice like to live under thickets, brushes, and in dense grasslands where they are hard to find.

Diet & Behaviour

Western jumping mice hibernate during the winter and spend most of their days in the summer building up fat reserves for this dormant period. Seeds, leaves, and insects like spiders, centipedes, and crustaceans provide the high fat and energy foods these mice need to survive. They forage mainly at night. When scared from their hiding place the western jumping mice will make a series of jumps and then remain still in a new hiding spot to confuse predators.

Lifecycle & Threats

Jumping mice can have up to three litters a year starting directly after the snowmelt in the spring. Each litter has three to nine young that weigh less than a gram each. Owls, weasels, foxes, and skunks all like to eat this furry rodent. Habitat destruction alongside rivers and streams is the main threat faced by these important mammals.

Status

COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

More Information

www.animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu

Photo: US Forest Service