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New Jersey Endangered and Threatened Species Field Guide


Image of A meadow jumping mouse.Zoom+ A meadow jumping mouse. © Eric Osmundson

Meadow jumping mouse

Zapus hudsonius

Species Group: Mammal

Conservation Status

State: Special Concern

 


IDENTIFICATION

The meadow jumping mouse resembles your typical mouse, but has big feet and a very long tail. The sides of the jumping mouse are yellow, and the underside and feet are white. Also the back of the jumping mouse is darker then the sides, with many black-tipped hairs. The tail is very long, brownish on the top and white on the bottom. Also, the tail is sparsely haired and lacks the white tip that is found on other jumping mice. Their weight varies greatly with the different seasons, and can range from 12 to 30 grams. They are at their heaviest is the fall before hibernation. The meadow jumping mouse ranges in length from 180 to 240 mm long, with their tail making up over half of their body, 108 to 165 mm. Their hind feet range from 28 to 35 mm long.

Image of Range of the meadow jumping mouse in New Jersey.Zoom+ Range of the meadow jumping mouse in New Jersey.

DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT

The meadow jumping mouse is distributed through much of the northern portion of North America. They are found in many of the eastern states, as far south as Georgia and South Carolina. Their distribution stretches west into the Great Plains and into the southwest into Arizona and New Mexico. They can also be found in Canada and into the arctic tree-line of Alaska.

As their name would indicate, meadow jumping mice are often found in grassy fields or fields with a mixture of grasses and shrubs. They are also found along thickly vegetated stream and pond banks, as well as grassy clearings within a forest. In areas where their range does not overlap with woodland jumping mouse, the meadow jumping mouse can also be found in wooded areas.

DIET

When the meadow jumping mouse emerges from hibernation in the spring, their diet consists of a variety of food. Roughly half of their diet will consist of animals, mostly insects and worms, and the rest will be seeds and some fungus. As the season progresses, their diet will begin to be made up of more seeds and fungus and the level of animal material they consume will decrease. They will often chew through a section of grass to cut it down, which allows better access to the seeds. During summer months and into the fall, the jumping mouse will rely on more on fungus, 10-20% of their diet, and seek out berries and fruit that can be found in meadow habitat.

LIFE CYCLE

In the northeastern United States, the meadow jumping mouse can have up to three litters in one year. The first occurs soon after emerging from hibernation. In early spring, the jumping mice will mate and produce a litter in May or June after an 18 day gestation period. Many of the adults will again produce a litter in July, and again in August. Females will have litters of 2-6 young, and the young are weaned and independent after 28-33 days. Most meadow jumping mice do not live more than a year in the wild, with only 9% making it past that first year. That 9% that live longer than a year typically live up to three years. In the fall, the jumping mouse has fattened up for hibernation, and will enter into a winter nest below the surface and begin hibernation only to emerge again in late spring.

CURRENT STATUS, THREATS, AND CONSERVATION

A status review of terrestrial mammals by the New Jersey Endangered Species Program, completed in 2013, recommended the status of special concern for this species. One reason for receiving this status is the fact that it is a difficult species to study and therefore there is very little information regarding its population size and distribution in New Jersey. It is also a habitat specialist and is therefore particularly vulnerable to environmental change.


Text written by Ray Dodd in 2013.


REFERENCES

Whitaker, J. O., & Hamilton, W. J. (1998). Mammals of the Eastern United States. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Craniata
       Class: Mammalia
          Order: Rodentia
             Family: Dipodidae
                Genus: Zapus
                   Species: Z. hudsonius

Find Related Info: Mammals, Special concern

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