Peromyscus attwateriTexas mouse

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Geographic Range

The Texas mouse populates rocky portions of central Texas, northward into Oklahoma and extends into southern Kansas, Missouri and western Arkansas. These regions are the only natural habitats for Peromyscus attwateri (Sugg, et al 1990).

Habitat

Peromyscus attwateri inhabits rocky areas including cliffs and limestone outcrops with woody vegetation, such as the Edwards plateau of Texas (Davis & Schmidly 1994). Due to the threat of predators the Texas mouse can often be found in crevices along cliffs, under logs, fallen grass, weeds, and in heaps of driftwood. Junipers are the dominant vegetation in the rocky areas that they inhabit (Engstrom et al. 1989). (Davis and Schmidly, 1994; Engstrom, et al., 1989)

Physical Description

The Texas mouse is a medium sized Peromyscus. It is not distinctly bicolored, but does have a lighter shade on its underside; its ankles are usually darker or dusky, the dorsal color is brown with darker and mixed with blackish marks along the midline. The mouse's side is a pinkish cinnamon and it has a pure white underbelly. Peromyscus attwateri is about 198 mm in total length with the tail usually about 103 mm. Hind feet are 24 to 27 mm and adults usually weigh from 25 to 35 grams (Davis & Schmidly, 1994). (Davis and Schmidly, 1994)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    25 to 35 g
    0.88 to 1.23 oz
  • Range length
    187 to 218 mm
    7.36 to 8.58 in

Reproduction

Reproduction occurs during September through late winter in north Texas (Davis & Schmidly, 1994). The average number of young per litter is four, but can range from one to six. (Davis and Schmidly, 1994)

  • Breeding interval
    Attwater's mice can breed multiple times during a breeding season.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs from September to late winter.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 6
  • Average number of offspring
    4
  • Range weaning age
    25 to 35 days
  • Range time to independence
    25 (low) days

At birth, the mouse has a mass of about 1.5 g. The young are born hairless with wrinkled, pink skin, closed eyes, and a pinnae that is folded over their ear. Juvenile hair begins to develop on the second day after birth. On the third day, the pinnae unfold with the ear canal opening after a week and a half. Eyes open after two weeks, and the young are weaned anywhere from day 25 to 35. At this time, the young usually leave the nest to live on their own, however, sometimes the mother will allow some young to live there for longer periods. Once weaned, the young usually leave the nest and become independent of their mother, although sometimes the mother will tolerate their presence for longer periods (Margulis 1998). (Margulis, 1998)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

The average lifespan of the P. attwateri is 6.8 months, but can live as long as 18 months. (Davis and Schmidly, 1994)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    18 (high) months
  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    6.8 months

Behavior

When P. attwateri shares habitats with other species of mice, such as Peromyscus pectoralis, it has been found to be a generalist using the full range of its available microhabitats. While P. pectoralis was a specialist, only exploiting certain microhabitats (Engstrom et al. 1989).

The Texas mouse has several morphological adaptations for climbing and movement in trees; it has a long, tufted tail to use as a prop when climbing and for balancing. It also has relatively long hind feet. According to a study done by Engstrom et al. (1989), the P. attwateri that were followed travelled in the trees approximately 70% of the time. Evidence was also found that the species frequently took refuge in nests in trees. (Engstrom, et al., 1989)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The Texas mouse is omnivorous. It will eat a wide variety of plant and animal matter depending on what is available; seeds, fruits, flowers, nuts, and other plant products are the primary source of nutrition. It will also feed on grasshoppers, camel crickets, and beetles (Davis & Schmidly, 1994). (Davis and Schmidly, 1994)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • flowers

Predation

Texas mice, like other Peromyscus species, are common prey for a wide variety of predators including raptors, snakes, and foxes.

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Texas mice are important and abundant small prey for predators in the ecosystems in which they live. Their predation on seeds impacts plant communities.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Texas mice are important members of the ecosystems in which they live.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Like other Peromyscus species, P. attwateri can carry and spread hantaviruses and other diseases, but these are rarely transmitted to humans.

  • Negative Impacts
  • injures humans
    • carries human disease

Conservation Status

The Texas mouse is presently abundant in its natural habitat and is a healthy species.

Other Comments

Peromyscus attwateri was classified as a subspecies of Peromyscus boylii until 1974. It was then classified by Schmidly to be a full species due to chromosomal differences and a difference in molar structure (Davis & Schmidly 1994).

Contributors

John Saari (author), Southwestern University, Stephanie Fabritius (editor), Southwestern University.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

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.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

crepuscular

active at dawn and dusk

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

endothermic

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

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

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

motile

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.

nocturnal

active during the night

omnivore

an animal that mainly eats all kinds of things, including plants and animals

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

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

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

viviparous

reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.

References

Davis, W., D. Schmidly. 1994. The Mammals of Texas. Texas: Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Engstrom, M., D. Etheredge, R. Stone. 1989. Habitat discrimination between sympatric populations of Peromyscus attwateri and Peromyscus pectoralis in west-central Texas. Journal of Mammology, 70, no. 2: 300 - 307.

Margulis, S. 1998. Relationships among parental inbreeding, parental behavior and offspring viability in oldfield mice. Animal Behaviour, 55, no. 2: 427 - 438.

Sugg, D., M. Kennedy, G. Heidt. 1990. Genetic variation in the Texas mouse, Peromyscus attwateri. Journal of Mammology, 70, no. 3: 309 - 317.