Liomys pictuspainted spiny pocket mouse

Geographic Range

Western coast of Mexico south to NW Guatemala.


This species inhabits a range of areas from the Sonoran desert to the arid lowland tropics and the cloud forests. It seems to prefer moist areas whenever possible however.

Physical Description

The fur of these animals has stiff spines intermixed with soft, fine hairs. The upper parts are reddish brown and the underside white. When juveniles, their coats are grey and lack spines. Males are larger than females. Total body length average for males is 241mm and 229mm for females.


No clear seasonality to breeding and pregnancy, though males were found with larger testes from March to April compared to November to February. Two to six young are born after a gestation period of approximately 25 days. Females flee the nest if startled and return later to move young by carrying them in their cheek pouches. Litters usually break up after 1-2 months.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual


The painted spiny pocket mouse is an aggressive, solitary animal. It is found with conspecifics only when breeding or with young. It has the typical heteromyid behaviors of sand bathing, caching of seeds, and extensive washing and scratching. Encounters between individuals include neutral nose to nose contact, nasal-anal contact, and tail trembling or aggressive bouts of chasing, locking arms, and rushing.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Feeds on seeds mainly, occasionally nuts and insects.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

No information

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

No information

Conservation Status


Anna Bess Sorin (author), Biology Dept., University of Memphis.



living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


McGhee, M.E. and H.H.Genoways. 1978. Liomys pictus. Mammalian species. No 83. pp1-5. American Society of Mammalogists.