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Species Description

White-footed Mouse

Peromyscus leucopus


Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Muridae

Description

Pale to rich reddish brown fur on the back and sides. Creamy white to grayish white on the belly, which is distinctly marked off from the upper parts. Summer fur color is more grayish than the winter color. The fur-covered tail is dusky brown above and creamy below. A medium - sized mouse, from 15 - 20 cm (5.9 - 7.9 in) in total length. The tail is fur-covered, and usually shorter than the combined length of the head and body. The large ears are sparsely covered in hair.

Life Cycle

Breeding occurs throughout the year. Females give birth 3 - 4 weeks after mating. The litter of (usually 4) young are born in a nest made of grass, leaves, and shredded bark. The nest is placed in or under a fallen log or under a rock or ledge. Nests also are sometimes placed in an abandoned squirrel or bird nest, in an old stump, or inside a house. The young are weaned in 3 - 4 weeks, and are sexually mature at about 2 months of age.

Natural History

The White-footed Mouse is common in upland mature forests with fallen logs and snags, rocks, ledges, and brush piles. It also inhabits marshes, canebrakes, and brushy fence rows. The White-footed Mouse eats seeds, nuts, grasses, fruits, and some insects. This species will commonly cache seeds and nuts in burrows and near nests. It is active throughout the year, primarily at night. Principal predators include owls, skunks, foxes, the Coyote, weasels, and snakes. The life span of a White-footed Mouse is usually less than 2 years in the wild, but in captivity the record is 8 years. White-footed Mice communicate with each other by foot-stamping, vocal squeaks, and scent. Females are territorial during breeding season.

Range

The White-footed Mouse is found in the mountains and Piedmont Region of northern Georgia. Its range includes most of the eastern United States, but this species is absent from the Coastal Plains of the southeastern United States.

Conservation Status

This is a common species in suitable habitat.

Similar Species

The Cotton Mouse can be distinguished from the White-footed Mouse by the Cotton Mouse's darker fur, larger size, and noticeably large back feet. Habitat preferences also help distinguish between these two species.