Unless otherwise noted, information contained in each edition of the Kansas School Naturalist reflects the knowledge of the subject as of the original date of publication.


Vol. 30, No. 1 - October 1983 - Kansas Mice

Volume 30, Number 1 -
October 1983

Kansas Mice

ABOUT THIS ISSUE

Published by EMPORIA STATE UNIVERSITY

Prepared and Issued by THE DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

Editor: ROBERT F. CLARKE

Editorial Committee: GILBERT A. LEISMAN, TOM EDDY, JOHN PARRISH, JOHN RANSOM

Online edition by: TERRI WEAST

The Kansas School Naturalist is sent upon request, free of charge, to Kansas school board members and librarians, conservationists, youth leaders, and other adults interested in nature education. Back numbers are sent free as long as lasts. Send requests to The Kansas School Naturalist, Division of Biological Sciences, Emporia State University, Kansas, 66801.

The Kansas School Naturalist is in October, December, February, and April of each year by Emporia State University, 1200 Commercial Street, Emporia, Kansas, 66801. Second-class postage at Emporia, Kansas.

"Statement required by the Act of August 12, 1970, Section 3685, Title 34, United States Code, showing Ownership, Management, and Circulation." The Kansas School Naturalist is published in October, December, February, and April. Editorial Office and Publication Office at 1200 Commercial Street, Kansas 66801. The Naturalist is edited and published by Emporia State University,Emporia, Kansas. Editor, Robert F. Clarke, Division of Biological Sciences.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A former elementary teacher, Virleen Bailey is presently working toward a master's degree in biology, focusing on the area of small mammal ecology. She has written an article on the status of the Least Weasel in Kansas. A paper co-authored with Dr. Max R. Terman detailing great blue heron behavior was recently published in the Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science.

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATIONS

We acknowledge with appreciation the permission kindly granted by Dr. E. Raymond Hall for the use of
the drawings which first appeared in Handbook of Mammals of Kansas, University of Kansas, 1955.


Kansas Mice

The next time you catch a mouse in your pantry, take a dose look at it before you give it to the cat. This is not to advocate the preservation of the House Mouse, but to introduce you to the fact that all mice are not alike! The pest in the pantry is only one of fifteen species of mice and mice-like animals (indistinguishable to the average observer) to be found within the borders of Kansas, any of which might be likely to stray into a building. These native mice are extremely interesting little animals, some of the most fascinating members of the animal kingdom.

The dictionary designates mice as "any of numerous small rodents typically resembling diminutive rats with pointed snout, rather small ears, elongated body, and slender, hairless or sparsely-furred tail. Actually, mice are nearly as varied as birds in coloring, resource preferences, and choice of habitat. Each kind, or species, displays its own behavior patterns. Some have distinctive vocalizations. A few are plentiful throughout the state, whereas others are rarely found.

All mice belong to the animal class Mammalia, order Rodentia (from the Latin rodere, to gnaw), which also includes the rats, squirrels, beavers, pocket gophers, and porcupines in North America. Mice are further divided into four family groups: Heteromyidae, Muridae, Cricetidae, and Zapodidae. These families are subdivided into genera (singular, genus) and then species. The mice comprising each group share a trait or traits common only to the animals of that same group.

The family name Heteromyidae comes from the Greek words meaning "different mouse." Heteromyids are different from other mice because they have external, fur-lined cheek pouches which they use to carry food to storage. They are mostly residents of dry, open plains and desert regions. Rodents of the family Muridae (derived from the Latin term for mouse) are Old World natives brought to America in the ships of expanding civilization. The ubiquitous House Mouse is our only mouse belonging to this family. The family
Cricetidae (base on the Latin cricetus, meaning "hamster") is a large group occurring nearly world-wide. The
Cricetidae in North America are native, and of the 15 species of mice at home on the Kansas prairie, 10 are grouped in this family. Only one member of the Zapodidae occurs in the state. The family name refers to the very large hind feet which characterize the family.

By using a taxonomic "key" the observer can find assistance in identifying an unfamiliar mouse. A key is an outline listing alternative statements about an animal's anatomy or appearance. From each pair of statements one is chosen that applies to the animal in question. After the first choice is made, a second pair of descriptive statements subordinate to the first pair is offered for selection; and so on until the animal is finally identified. The choice is always between one of two alternatives. These alternative statements bear the same number (e.g. 1a and 1b, 2a and 2b). A given number is used for only one pair of characteristics and is not repeated. Often, however, one of a pair of statements will be quite widely separated from the other. In all cases, the choice is to be made between two statements bearing the same number, keeping on until the animal is identified.

Many books on mammals include a key. The Wild Mammals of Missouri, by Charles and Elizabeth Schwartz, has a good example of a key that is comprehensive, yet technically within the understanding of the interested reader.

Several good and inexpensive field guides are available which have drawings and photographs to aid in identification, and some include a simple key. Useful to Kansas residents are Mammals in Kansas, by a group of mammalogists from the University of Kansas, and the Peterson Field Guide to the Mammals, by Burt and Grossenheider. Most field guides also provide range maps showing the normal distribution of each species.

Some knowledge of an animal's typical habitat will help with local identification. The variety and density of vegetative cover is a major factor in determining the rodent species of a given region. Also influencing the presence or one species or another are distances to buildings, proximity of ponds and waterways, agricultural practices, and availability of a preferred food resource.

The living habits of voles illustrates the role habitat plays in determining the species of mouse to be found in a locality. Three species of vole occur in Kansas: the Prairie Vole (Microtus ochrogaster), the Pine Vole (M. pinetorum), and the Meadow Vole (M. pennsylvanicus). The Prairie Vole is well-distributed across the state in dry to mesic prairie with some degree of grassy cover. The Meadow Vole prefers the more moist areas associated with marshy habitats, and the Pine Vole lives in woodlands and brushy edges in the eastern third of the state. The three are not usually found in an area.

Species differences may have come about when, over time, a like group of animals became so widely spread geographically that some individuals encountered certain changes in habitat. In adapting to these changes - also a long-time process - the animals acquired different characteristics that enabled them to survive in the altered environment. These small groups of survivors bred and reproduced among their
own groups until differences were established in the genetic makeup of each group. Thus, species evolved, with habitat as the major directional factor.

A mouse's coat, or pelage, is composed of two main types of hair. Relatively long, coarse guard hairs overlie soft thick and short underhairs or fur next to the skin. Both types of hair are shed and replaced periodically by molting. Molting may be an annual process or seasonal, depending upon the species and -  to some extent - the climatic or geographic region in which the species occurs. Most mammals living in temperate or arctic climates have an annual molt, with the hairs being replaced in an orderly manner within a short time. Other mammals shed their hair seasonally, particularly where a seasonal change in coat color is involved. Most mice molt annually in the fall, but with Prairie Voles, molting may occur at any time of the year, and Pine Voles molt early in the spring and again in late autumn.

Most mice are active throughout the winter months. Only one Kansas species the Meadow Jumping Mouse is known to hibernate. The term hibernation refers to a decrease in body temperature in the winter, including a state of torpor for relatively long periods of time. However, some authorities believe that a number of species - among them the Hispid Pocket Mouse - may become torpid for short periods, rousing from time
to time to eat the seeds cached in the fall. Some species are active on mild days but during a cold snap will huddle together in groups of two or three to as many as twenty for warmth. Mice of a species occurring in the southern counties may remain active throughout the winter while northern residents of the same species will sharply restrict cold weather movement.

An animal's teeth indicate its feeding habits. Rodents are gnawing animals, a trait well known to house wives and farmers! The name of the order Rodentia is derived from the Latin word meaning "gnawing" and refers to the use of the prominent incisor teeth. The incisors are large and chisel-shaped and separated from the cheek teeth by a wide space called the diastema. The animal's lips tuck into the diastema and keep stray chips of the gnawed material from getting into the mouth.

Rodent cheek teeth are low-crowned for grinding the plant substances that constitute their food. The teeth in the several species exhibit different grinding surface patterns and small-mammal biologists use these distinctive patterns in identifying a species. For example, the dentine of a Western Harvest Mouse's lower third molar (cheek teeth) shows a C pattern, while the lower third molar of a Fulvous Harvest Mouse forms
an S. The arrangement of the cusps or crests and folds of the cheek teeth are also species specific. In addition, the upper incisors of some species have lengthwise grooves on the outer surface. Biologists use a shorthand-like method for indicating the dentition of a mammal. Termed the dental formula, the method shows the number of each kind of tooth in each half of each jaw. Since the two halves of each jaw normally match in numbers and types of teeth, the formula is usually given for only one half. The dental formula for a Prairie Vole would be written:

see description below

The upper row of numbers designates the upper jaw teeth and the lower row, the lower jaw teeth. The letters indicate the kinds of teeth possessed by the Prairie Vole: I (Incisors), C (Canines), P (Premolars), and M (Molars). The formula shows that there are 4 teeth in each half of the upper jaw and 4 teeth in
each half of the lower jaw for a grand total of 16 teeth.

In general, the young of wild animals arrive in the spring. This is especially true of larger species. Small mammals such as mice and other rodents, however, are much more vulnerable to predation than are the larger species. For this and other reasons, their reproductive strategy is geared at a high rate of production to ensure survival. All mice produce at least 2 or 3 litters per breeding season, which usually extends from early spring through September and October. Some species - notably harvest mice, voles, bog lemmings, and probably deer mice - may breed at any time during the year.

The Deer Mouse and Prairie Vole are among the most prolific mouse species, producing seven or more families annually. Hard to believe is the fact that the common household pest, the House Mouse, breeds mostly from spring to late fall. However in this relatively short reproductive season, the House Mouse is
capable of producing 14 litters of 5 to 7 or more young! This indicates that the length of the breeding season in relation to the number of offspring produced is not a significant factor!

Most of the small animal species occurring within the borders of Kansas are important insofar as filling their
niche contributes to the completeness of the ecological community. However, due to the penchant of humans for tampering with the so-called "balance of nature," a few mice have become agricultural and household pests. The worst of these, the ubiquitous House Mouse, is second to the Norway Rat in destructiveness. It is also host to ticks and the organisms causing typhus and a number of infectious diseases. Large sums of money and extensive research have been invested in the problem of rodent pest control. With buildings and grain storage facilities adequately protected, the wild native mice present fewer problems, and should be observed and appreciated for what they are: some of the most fascinating members of the animal kingdom.

Deer Mouse, probably the most numerous mouse species, is also guilty of infringing on man's domain, particularly in the fall when they commonly enter barns and other buildings where grain is stored. But these mice balance the scale by consuming large amounts of insects and weed seeds.

The beneficial aspect of mouse populations is often overlooked because of the undeniable damage stemming from their feeding and nesting requirements. Voles, for example, are continually working the soil through their tunneling activities.

With their relative abudance, free-ranging mice amply fill their niche in the community's ecological scheme. By changing plants into food for predators, mice provide a ready store of energy for owls and other carnivores, thus relieving predator pressure on game birds and small, valuable fur-bearers.

For the average home rodent invaders, snap traps are both safe to use and reliable when with additional
mouse-proofing measures. Poisoned baits are more frequently used where mice are able to come and go
freely, as in barns and other farm outbuildings. Since some baits are also lethal to other animals; thet should be used with caution and only after determining the legal codes for the bait's specific ingredients. County agricultural agents and health services offer advice and assistance with extreme rodent infestations.



A KEY FOR IDENTIFYING ANIMALS IN THIS BOOKLET

family heteromyidae

FAMILY HETEROMYIDAE

1a. Soles of hind feet naked, greatest width of head less than distance between tip of nose and posterior angle of the eye

2a. Total length less than 150 mm; hind foot less than 19; mastoids greatly developed; length of skull less than 25

3a. Patches behind ears twice the length of the ear.........Silky Pocket Mouse

3b. Patches behind ears approximately the same length as the ear.........Plains Pocket Mouse

2b. Total length more than 150 mm; hind foot more than 19; length of skull more than 25; mastoids not so greatly developed.........Hispid Pocket Mouse

1b. Soles of hind feet haired; greatest width of head more than distance between tip of nose and posterior angle of eye.........Ord's Kangaroo Rat

 

family cricetidae

FAMILY CRICETIDAE

1a. Tail round; no fringe of stiff hairs on toes of hind foot for swimming; length of skull less than 50 mm.

2a. Guard hairs not prominent and pelage smooth to touch

3a. Tailless than 60% of length of head and body.........Northern Grasshopper Mouse

3b. Tail more than 60% of length of head and body

4a. Upper incisors grooved on outer surface

5a. Upper parts golden, brownish, underparts, grayish-white, washed with buff; length of tail more than 77.........Fulvous Harvest Mouse

5b. Upper parts grayish or brownish, underparts never washed with buff; length of tail less than 77

6a. Width of stripe down top of tail more than 1/4 circumference of tail; mid-dorsal stripe on back faintly defined; tail longer than 65; length of skull more than 20.........Western Harvest Mouse

6b. Width of stripe down top of tail no more than 1/4 circumference of tail; mid-dorsal stripe on back well-defined; tail usually shorter than 65; length of skull 20 or less.........Plains Harvest Mouse

4b. Upper incisors not grooved on outer surface

7a. total more than 225; skull longer than 30.........Rice Rat

7b. Total length less than 225; skull shorter than 30

8a. Hind foot than 23.5; ear longer than 18; skull longer than 26.8.........Brush Mouse

8b. Hind foot shorter than 23.5; ear shorter than 18; skull shorter than 26.8

9a. Tail sharply bicolored and shorter than 65; hind foot shorter than 21; skull shorter than 22.........Deer Mouse

9b. Tail faintly bicolored and longer than 65; hind foot longer than 21; skull than 22.........Texas Mouse

2b. Guard hairs prominent and rough to touch.........Cotton Rat

10a. Total length more than 300; skull more than 35.........Wood Rat spp.

10b. Total length less than 300; skull less than 35

11a. Tail no longer than hind foot; upper incisors grooved on outer surface..........Southern Bog Lemming

11b. Tail no less than 1 1/2 times as long as hind foot; upper incisors smooth on outer surface

12a. Tail more than 25; pelage grayish.........Prairie Vole

12b. Tail less than 25; pelage chestnut.........Pine Vole

1b. Tail laterally compressed; toes fringed with stiff hairs for swimming; length of skull more than 50.........Muskrat

 

pocket mice

Pocket Mice (Genus Perognathus)

Family Heteromyidae

Three species of pocket mice occur in Kansas: the Silky Pocket Mouse (Perpgnathus flavus bunkeri), the Plains Pocket Mouse (P. flavescens), and theHispid Pocket Mouse (P. hispidus).

Description: Pocket mice are small-eared rodents with hind legs somewhat larger than the forelegs. A buffy lateral stripe marks the separation of the darker dorsal fur from the white underparts. Tails are moderately long. The external fur-lined cheek pouches opening on the sides of the mouth are used in carrying seeds to storage and are a family characteristic of heteromyids.

A well-defined yellow patch of long fur behind each ear differentiates the Silky Pocket Mouse from the Plains and Hispid, and, as indicated by the common name, the fur is long, soft, and silky. The Plains Pocket Mouse is somewhat lighter in color with short-haired whitish patches behind the ears. The Hispid Pocket Mouse is the largest of the Kansas pocket mice and has darker, much coarser fur.

Size: Silky Pocket Mouse: Adult total length, 100-119 mm; weight, 6-10 g.; Plains Pocket Mouse: Adult total length, 113-128 mm; weight, 7-13 g.: Hispid Pocket Mouse: Adult total length, 190-237 mm; weight, 40-60 g.

Range in Kansas: The more arid regions of the state.

Habitat: Arid or semiarid plains and prairies is the preferred habitat, with sandy or loose, loamy soils, and sparse vegetation. The Hispid Pocket Mouse can be found in fence rows and roadside ditches edging cultivated fields.

Habits: Pocket mice make shallow underground tunnel systems with separate nesting and food storage "rooms." Days are spend underground and the entrance is plugged with soil. The openings to the Silky and Plains burrows are inconspicuous, but the Hispid forms gopher-like mounds about the entrance.

Seeds of grasses, shrubs, and herbs comprise the principal food and are stored for winter use. Water needs are met from the moisture content of the food and from metabolic water.

Because the Silky Pocket Mouse is too small to be readily trapped, little is known about its reproductive habits, but pocket mice in Kansas probably average 2 litters a year.

 

harvest mice

Harvest Mice (Genus Reithrodontomys)

Family Cricetidae:

Three species of harvest mice reside in Kansas: the Plains Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys montanus), the Western Harvest Mouse (R. megalotis), and the Fulvous Harvest Mouse (R. fulvescens).

Description: Harvest Mice are small brownish mice with prominent ears. They are often confused with house mice. They may be readily distinguished from other brown mice by examining the upper incisors. Harvest mice have a distinct, lengthwise groove down the incisor front surface. Other mice with grooved teeth have external cheek pouches, very long, hairless taib or very short tails less than 25 mm.

Coloration varies somewhat among the species. The Plains Harvest Mouse is more gray than brown with a pronounced darker dorsal stripe and white underparts, while the fur of the Western is browner with white-to-gray belly and a less defined back stripe. The larger Fulvous differs from other Kansas harvest mice with
bright tawny sides an a longer tail. The tails of the Plains is much shorter and the tail stripe narrower than that of the Western; the tails of all 3 Kansas species are bicolored.

Size: Plains: Adult total length, 105-143 mm; weight, 10-12 g. Western: Adult total length, 118-156 mm; weight, 11-16 g. Fulvous: Adult total length, 154-165 mm; weight, 10-15 g.

Range in Kansas: The Plains Harvest Mouse occurs as two subspecies, divided between the western and eastern halves of the state. The Western Harvest Mouse also exists as 2 subspecies, one of which is found only in the southwest, while the other occurs in the northern half. The Fulvous Harvest Mouse is confined to the southeast corner.

Habitat: The preferred habitats are overgrown fields, marshes, and wood edges.

Habits: Harvest mice are nocturnal and good climbers. They build apple-size grass nests in thick, low vegetation, occasionally adopting unused bird nests.

The principal foods are seeds, green plant parts, and wild fruits, and, occasionally, insects.

Breeding generally takes place from spring through late fall. Up to 7 litters are produced annually with 2-9 young in each litter.

 

white-footed mice

White-footed Mice (Genus Peromyscus)

Family Cricetidae:

Three species of Peromyscus occur within the borders of Kansas: the Deer Mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), the Woods or White-footed Mouse (P. leucopus), and the Texas or Brush Mouse (P. attwaten).

Description: These common mice are usually brownish to grayish above with white feet and underparts. The base of the hairs is dark gray and the tails are long and well-furred. Some slight differences in coloring help to distinguish the three Kansas species. The Deer Mouse has a faint lengthwise darker band on its back and the tail is sharply bi-colored with a dark, narrow dorsal stripe and white underside. The Texas Mouse also has a distinctly bicolored tail but is large overall, and its fur is more cinnamon than gray. The tail of the White-footed Mouse is grayish above, gradually blending into white below. The Deer Mouse usually has shorter hind feet than the White-footed Mouse.

Size: Deer Mouse: Adult total length, 125-164 mm; weight, 18-25 g. White-footed Mouse: Adult total length, 155-196 mm; weight, 27-36 g. Texas Mouse: Adult total length, 174-198 mm; weight, 25-37 g.

Range in Kansas: Statewide

Habitat: The influence of habitat characteristics on species occurrence is apparent among Peromyscus in Kansas. The state's most abundant member of the genus, the Deer Mouse, is most frequently found in open grasslands, but also may occur in woodland areas. The White-footed Mouse prefers established woodlands with dense brush, and where it occurs in western Kansas, will be found in the timbered stream valleys. The Texas Mouse is associated with the brushy slopes and rocky cliffs in Cowley, Chautauqua, and Cherokee counties.

Habits: If alarmed, Peromyscus vibrate their forefeet to produce a drumming sound. Vocalization is a sizzling buzz and a thin squeak.

Peromyscus are omnivorous, which probably accounts for their wide-spread success throughout their extensive range. Green plants, seeds, wild fruits, nuts, and insects comprise the principal foods. Food is stored for the winter.

These mice are prolific and are known to breed throughout the year, although 4-8 litters are usual, with 1-9 young per litter.

 

voles

Voles (Genus Microtus)

Family Cricetidae

Three vole species are residents of Kansas: the Prairie Vole (Microtus ochrogaster), the Woodland or Pine Vole (M. pinetorum), and the Meadow Vole (M. pennsylvanicus).

Description: Voles have long, grayish brown fur, blocky bodies, short ears and tails, and small beady eyes set in relatively large heads. Their incisors are not grooved. Slight color differences help to distinguish among species. The dark coat of the Prairie Vole shows a yellowish grizzle, with grayish white underparts. The short tail is bicolored. Pine Vole fur is smooth, dense, and reddish brown above and grayish buff below with an indistinctively bicolored tail. The tail of the Meadow Vole is also bicolored but longer and sparsely haired. Meadow Vole dorsal fur is darker than that of the Prairie Vole with dark gray underparts.

Size: Prairie Vole: Adult total length, 137-180 mm; weight, 49-71 g. Pine Vole: Adult total length, 122-141 mm; weight, 27-44 g. Meadow Vole: Adult total length, 155-187 mm; weight, 43-75 g.

Range in Kansas: The Prairie Vole is the most abundant vole in Kansas. The Pine Vole inhabits the eastern third, while the Meadow Vole has been recorded only in Jewell and Republic counties along the Nebraska line.

Habitat: Voles live on the ground (generally underground in winter) usually in grassy terrain. Prairie Voles prefer dry to mesic grasslands, or shrubby edges. Meadow Voles are found in the more moist habitats associated with marshy lands. Pine Voles live in deciduous woods or over-grown fields with considerable ground litter.

Habits: Voles make wide-spread systems of inch-wide runways by trampling the grass or by cutting off the grass stems at the bases.

Preferred food consists of basal grass stem segments, roots, and seeds. All three species store food.

Voles usually breed from early spring to fall, producing several litters. Breeding also occurs during mild winters. Litter-size averages 2-7 young.

 

(left) Northern Grasshopper Mouse (right) Meadow Jumping Mouse

Northern Grasshopper Mouse (Onychomys leucogaster)

Family Cricetidae

One species of Onychomys occurs in Kansas and is uncommon throughout its range.

Description: Dorsal fur is grayish and pinkish cinnamon and the underparts are white. It is the mouse in Kansas with a short, thic, white-tipped tail. A dark patch on the front upper edge of the ear and white, basal ear tufts of fur are distinctive field marks.

Size: Adult total length, 135-160 mm; weight, 30-45 g.

Range in Kansas: The Northern Grasshopper Mouse inhabits the western two thirds of the state.

Habitat: Grasshopper mice inhabit open country, preferring grassland and scattered shrubs, with sandy to gravelly soil.

Habits: Entirely nocturnal, this mouse also spends much of the daylight underground. Both members of a breeding pair are highly territorial and quite vocal, uttering tiny barks and a shrill "skreek." They dust bathe in miniature replicas of the prairie buffalo.

 

Meadow Jumping Mouse (Zapus hudsonius)

Family Zapodidae

One species of the Zapus occurs in Kansas.

Description: The Meadow Jumping Mouse is more colorful than most other small rodents. Upper fur is yellowish-brown to olive with a dark dorsal stripe. The sides are orange to pinkish and the underparts are white. The extremely long tail is bicolored, dark above and creamy below with a black tip. The small, dark ears are with buff or white. Elongated hind feet facilitate the 6-foot leaps that carry it out of danger.

Size: Adult total length, 178-220 mm; weight, 12-22 g.

Range in Kansas: The Meadow Jumping Mouse inhabits the eastern third of the state, but its distribution appears to be somewhat patchy.

Habitat: This mouse prefers open grassy habitat but also is found in weedy fields, fencerows, and woodland edges, usually near water.

Habits: This species is primarily nocturnal. The summer nest of grass and plant fibers placed on the ground in grass wallows. Since these dust baths are located on the edges of Grasshopper Mouse territories, they may also serve as scent markers.

Animal matter is the preferred food, with insects making up the major portion of the diet. The Grasshopper Mouse also preys on lizards and on smaller mice.

Two or three litters are produced from spring to early fall with 2-6 young per litter.

clumps. A true hibernator, it seeks higher ground and retires in a deep, subterranean nest in October, not emerging until April. It is a good climber and swimmer and, startled, hurries through the grass like a small frog, using the long tail for balance.

Seeds and grasses comprise most of the food, along with wild fruits and insects. They eat half their weight
daily.

Usually two, occasionally three, litters are born per breeding season and the litters contain 4-6 young.

 

(left) Southern Bog Lemming (right) House Mouse

Southern Bog Lemming (Synaptomys cooperi)

Family Cricetidae

Only slightly related to the arctic lemming, the Southern Bog Lemming is easily confused with the Prairie Vole (Microtus ochrogaster).

Description: The upper fur is brownish, mingled with black and yellow, and the underparts are silver gray with darker hairs. The eyes are quite small and beady, and the short ears are nearly concealed in the long fur. Male hip glands are conspicuously covered with whitish hair. The tail is approximately an inch long, shorter than that of any other vole-like animal. The orangish upper incisors are edged on the outer surface by a shallow groove.

 

House Mouse (Mus musculus)

Family Muridae

Old World natives, house mice are man's unwanted neighbors, and second in economic destructive importance only to the Norway Rat.

Description: The House Mouse is small, grayish-brown with a gray or buffy belly and a uniformly colored, scaly tail. Although the House Mouse may occasionally have light-colored feet, it can be distinguished from the Peramyscus mice by its hairless tail and lack of a sharp contrast between dorsal and belly fur.

Size: Adult total length, 130-198 mm; weight, 19-25 g.

Range in Kansas: Found throughout the state.

Size: Adult total length, 122-154 mm; weight, 39-54 g.

Range in Kansas: Two subspecies occur in the state. One is found primarily in the eastern third, while the other occupies a small area centered in Meade County in the southwest. The former also occurs in a narrow area in the south-central section.

Habitat: Southern Bog Lemmings like thick, matted ground cover with tall overhead protection. They inhabit both wood and grassland, particularly damp areas around springs and marshes.

Habits: Runways may be shared with Prairie Voles.

The principal food consists of the stalks and leaves of green vegetation.

Three or four litters are produced each year, with 3-7 young per litter.

Habitat: The House Mouse lives in the homes and outbuildings of man in winter but in summer usually moves to abandoned fields, overgrown roadsides, and harvested grainfields. The nest is constructed of any soft material, in any kind of hole.

Habits: House mice are primarily nocturnal. They are omnivorous but prefer grain and vegetable foods. They also eat house flies and cockroaches, but are such pests themselves that this redeeming dietary habit is overlooked!

They breed throughout the year, beginning as early as 28 days after birth. Five to ten litters are producing
from 5-13 young per litter.



 

Obviously, the great wealth of information about mice has resulted from extensive study. Man's initial inquisitiveness regarding mice probably came about because of their destructive impact on his habitat. And when someone discovered that a thorough knowledge of the enemy facilitated the development of a successful defense strategy, attention began to focus on the animal's lifestyle in order to determine its vulnerable spot!

Additional avenues suggesting further exploration opened incidentally to other, unrelated work. Mice have long been used as experimental laboratory animals because of their docility, small size, and short breeding cycles. Many behavior data on these semi-domestic mouse strains emerged as a "fringe benefit" of routine use, maintaining these wild animals in a lab situation presented problems not encountered with domestic mice. Solving these problems led to the examination led to the examination of the life histories of the wild species for clues to their care and reproductive habits.

Hopefully, this booklet has helped you to acquire and understanding of - and even an interest in - the
numerous and varied mice scampering, gnawing, reproducing, and otherwise claiming a niche in your environment. The impact of their sheer abundance should be proof against indifference!

Natural predators under normal conditions barely manage to keep them in check. Man has yet to reduce the rampant rodent populations significantly for other than brief periods. Like the Biblical poor, the mice are with us.

 

REFERENCES:

Bee, J.W., G. Glass, R.S. Hoffman and R.R. Patterson, 1981. Mammals in Kansas. Univ. Kans. Mus. Nat. Hist. 300 pp.

Burt, W.H., and R.P. Grossenheider, 1976. A Field Guide to the Mammals. 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston. 289 pp.

Collins, H.H. 1959. Complete Field Guide to American Wildlife: East, Central, and North. Harper and Row, New York. 683 pp.

Hall, E.R. 1955. Handbook of Mammals of Kansas. Mus. Nat. Hist. Univ. Kans. 303 pp.

Hall, E.R. 1981. The Mammals of North America. John Wiley and Sons, New York. 2 volumes.

Schwartz, C.W. , and E.R. Schwartz, 1981. The Wild Animals of Missouri. Univ. Missouri Press, Columbia. 356 pp.

Yahner, R.H. 1983. Small mammals in farmstead shelterbelts: habitat correlates of seasonal abundance and community structure. J. Wildl. Manage. 47: 74-84.


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