Peromyscus crinituscanyon mouse

Geographic Range

Canyon mice are native to North America and can be found from central Oregon to northern Baja California, throughout western Nevada, northern Arizona, most of Utah, and in the inter-montane regions of western Colorado. (Costello and Rosenberger, 2012; Ellerman, 1940; Hall, Ph. D. and Kelson, Ph. D., 1959; Johnson and Armstrong, 1987; Matthews, 1971; Nowak and Paradiso, 1983)


Canyon mice prefer arid habitat types and can be found from deserts below sea level to forested montane areas. They are restricted to rocky habitat, and vegetative cover type has little influence on their distribution. Canyon mice can also be found in desert or dune habitat and forage in areas with shrub-like vegetation, which they use for cover when presented with a potential threat. (Costello and Rosenberger, 2012; Hall, Ph. D. and Kelson, Ph. D., 1959; Johnson and Armstrong, 1987)

  • Range elevation
    -82 to 3048 m
    -269.03 to 10000.00 ft
  • Average elevation
    1574.7 m
    5166.34 ft

Physical Description

Peromyscus crinitus is a relatively small rodent that ranges from 162 to 191 mm in head-body length, with an average of 175 mm. The tail ranges from 80 to 118 mm long and adult mass ranges from 13 to 23 g, with an average of 17 g. The dorsum is covered in brown, black, golden brown, or gray fur and the venter is typically white. Its tail and ears are sparsely furred and their ears and feet, which are approximately equal in length, are tufted. It has long white vibrissae on the snout and large black eyes. Sexual dimorphism has not been reported in this species. (Costello and Rosenberger, 2012; Emmons, 1990; Hall, Ph. D. and Kelson, Ph. D., 1959; Johnson and Armstrong, 1987; Mullen, 1971; Nowak and Paradiso, 1983)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    13 to 23 g
    0.46 to 0.81 oz
  • Average mass
    17 g
    0.60 oz
  • Range length
    162 to 191 mm
    6.38 to 7.52 in
  • Average length
    175 mm
    6.89 in
  • Range basal metabolic rate
    4.80 to 6.26 cm3.O2/g/hr
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    5.53 cm3.O2/g/hr


Peromyscus crinitus is polygynous, and like many other species of Peromyscus, it is solitary and is social only during breeding season. After parturition, mated pairs separate and females become extremely territorial, chasing out any conspecifics that wander into their home range. Little else is known of this species' reproductive behavior in the wild. (Dewsbury, 1975; Johnson and Armstrong, 1987; Nowak and Paradiso, 1983)

Peromyscus crinitus breeds year-round, however, reproductive activity peaks during spring (March through May). Estrus lasts for 6.1 days. When lactating, gestation ranges from 29 to 31 days, and 24 to 25 days otherwise. Litter size ranges from 1 to 5 pups with a mean of 3.4, and average birth weight is 2.2 g per pup. Peromyscus crinitus has about 2 litters per year, but as many as 8 have been recorded. Pups are altricial at birth, having only small amounts of fur and pigmentation. They are completely defenseless after parturition and rely on their mother for nutrition and protection. Weaning begins at 21 to 30 days after birth and continues until young are fully independent around 6 to 8 weeks old. Most pups become sexually mature between 4 and 6 weeks after parturition. (Drickamer and Vestal, 1973; Johnson and Armstrong, 1987; Nowak and Paradiso, 1983)

  • Breeding season
    Canyon mice breed year-round, but activity peaks from March through May
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 5
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    21 to 27 days
  • Average gestation period
    23.47 days
  • Range weaning age
    21 to 30 days
  • Range time to independence
    6 to 8 weeks
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    4 to 6 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    4 to 6 months

Peromyscus crinitus females nurse pups until weaning, which occurs between 21 and 30 days after parturition. After weaning, young continue to depend on their mother for an additional 4 to 6 months before becoming fully independent. While nesting, females continually maintain the nest. No information regarding paternal care has been reported for this species. (Eisenberg, 1936; Johnson and Armstrong, 1987; Matthews, 1971; Nowak and Paradiso, 1983; Shurtliff, et al., 2005)

  • Parental Investment
  • precocial
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female


There is no information available regarding the lifespan of Peromyscus crinitus. Close relatives, P. maniculatus bairdii and P. maniculatus gracilis, have been known to live up to 15 years in captivity. Typically, wild mice have a very short lifespan, on the range of 1 to 3 years. (Drickamer and Vestal, 1973)


Female-male encounters are more aggressive than female-female interactions, but less aggressive than male-male interactions. After parturition, Peromyscus crinitus males leave the nest site, and females serve as the primary care giver to developing pups. When excited, P. crinitus thumps the ground with its hind feet, and when aggressive, it chatters its teeth. It is nocturnal, and enters torpor when resources are severely limited (i.e. lack of water and food) or during periods of low temperatures (1 to 5 C). Sand bathing removes natural oils from the fur and prevents it from becoming matted down. Peromyscus crinitus is an average swimmers and diggers. It is very agile and is a much better climbers and runners than most species of Peromyscus. In lab trials, P. crinitus quickly solves complex mazes without reward. (Eisenberg, 1936; Johnson and Armstrong, 1987; Matthews, 1971; Nowak and Paradiso, 1983)

  • Range territory size
    3500 to 3800 m^2

Home Range

Peromyscus crinitus exhibits intersexual range over lap; however, individuals of the same sex occupy distinct ranges. Home ranges are often between 3500 and 3800 m^2, and male and female home ranges are similar in size. (Johnson and Armstrong, 1987; Nowak and Paradiso, 1983)

Communication and Perception

Vocalizations are an important form of communication in canyon mice, especially in young, which often squeak while being cared for by their mother. When injured, adults make brief squeaking sounds, and when defending the nest, they often make "chit" sounds. When excited, canyon mice thump the ground with their hind feet, and when aggressive, they chatter their teeth. (Eisenberg, 1936; Johnson and Armstrong, 1987; Nowak and Paradiso, 1983)

Food Habits

Although canyon mice are omnivorous, primarily forage includes plant products such as seeds, leaves, and fruit. Other important food items include various species of insect. Canyon mice cache food for consumption during winter. (Costello and Rosenberger, 2012; Johnson and Armstrong, 1987; Matthews, 1971; Nowak and Paradiso, 1983)

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


Although there is no information regarding predators specific to Peromyscus crinitus, typical predators for other species of Peromyscus include ermine, long-tailed weasels, coyotes, red foxes, Canada lynx, and a number of other mammalian carnivores. Peromyscus crinitus is also preyed upon by owls such as barn owls, great-horned owls and barred owls, and a number of different snake species. It's coloration helps camouflage it from potential predators and likely helps decrease risk of predation. (Johnson and Armstrong, 1987)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Canyon mice are omnivores that consume both insects and plant material. They are important seed dispersers throughout their geographic range and may help control insect pest populations as well. They are host to a number of different endoparasites, including tapeworms and roundworms, and are also vulnerable to a number of different ectoparasites such as ticks, chiggers, mites, fleas, botflies and warble flies. (Elias, et al., 2004; Johnson and Armstrong, 1987)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • disperses seeds
Commensal/Parasitic Species
  • tapeworms (Cestoidea)
  • nematodes (Nematoda)
  • ticks (Ixodoidea)
  • fleas Siphonaptera)
  • chiggers (Trombiculidae)
  • mites (Acari)
  • botflies (Oestrida)
  • warble flies (Hypoderma)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Peromyscus crinitus has been used to investigate chromosomal function, and its lungs cells are used in biomedical research investigating the effects of antitumor antibiotics on mitosis. (Johnson and Armstrong, 1987)

  • Positive Impacts
  • research and education

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Peromyscus crinitus on humans. (Johnson and Armstrong, 1987)

Conservation Status

Peromyscus crinitus is classified as a species of least concern on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species. It has a rapid reproductive rate and local population densities can be high. Although there are no known major threats to this species, population densities can be significantly impacted by the presence of other species of Peromyscus or other omnivorous rodents. For example, when Neotoma lepida was removed during a competitive interactions study, P. crinitus populations increased 130% over their original numbers and 87% when Peromyscus eremicus was removed. (Elias, et al., 2004; Johnson and Armstrong, 1987; Shurtliff, et al., 2005)


Hector Rodriguez (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, John Berini (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



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


uses sound to communicate

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


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.

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.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


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


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).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

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


active during the night


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


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species


having more than one female as a mate at one time

scent marks

communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


remains in the same area


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


lives alone

stores or caches food

places a food item in a special place to be eaten later. Also called "hoarding"


uses touch to communicate


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).


Living on the ground.


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others


uses sight to communicate


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

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born


Costello, R., A. Rosenberger. 2012. "Peromyscus crinitus Canyon Mouse" (On-line). Accessed April 02, 2011 at

Dewsbury, D. 1975. Copulatory Behavior of Peromyscus crinitus and Peromyscus floridanus. American Midland Naturalist, 93/2: 468-471. Accessed April 06, 2011 at

Drickamer, L., B. Vestal. 1973. Patterns of Reproduction in a Laboratory Colony of Peromyscus. Journal of Mammalogy, 54/2: 523-528. Accessed April 03, 2011 at,&list=hide&searchUri=/action/doBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dperomyscus%2Bcrinitus%252C%2Blife%2Bspan%26gw%3Djtx%26acc%3Don%26prq%3Dperomyscus%2Bcrinitus%252C%2Blongetivity%26Search%3DSearch%26hp%3D25%26wc%3Don&prevSearch=&item=5&ttl=49&returnArticleService=showFullText&resultsServiceName=null.

Eisenberg, J. 1936. The Intraspecific Social Behavior of Some Cricetine Rodents of the Genus Peromysc. American Midland Naturalist, 69/1: 240-246. Accessed April 03, 2011 at

Elias, S., J. Witham, M. Hunter, Jr.. 2004. Peromyscus leucopus abundance and acorn mast: Population fluctuation over 20 years. Journal of Mammalogy, 85/4: 743-747. Accessed April 02, 2011 at

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Emmons, L. 1990. Neotropical Rainforest Animals. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Hall, Ph. D., E., K. Kelson, Ph. D.. 1959. Mammals of North America. New York: The Ronald Press Company.

Johnson, D., D. Armstrong. 1987. Peromyscus crinitus. Mammalian Species, no. 287: 1-8. Accessed April 02, 2011 at

Matthews, L. 1971. Life of Mammals, vol II. New York, New York: Universe Books.

Mullen, R. 1971. Energy Metabolism of Peromyscus crinitus in its Natural Environment. Journal of Mammalogy, Vol. 52, No. 3 (Aug., 1971), pp. 633-635, 52/3: 633-635. Accessed April 03, 2011 at

Nowak, R., J. Paradiso. 1983. Mammals of the World, vol II. Baltimore and London: The John's Hopkins University Press.

Shurtliff, Q., D. Pearse, D. Rogers. 2005. Parentage Percentage of the Canyon Mouse (Peromyscus crinitus): Evidence for Multiple Maternity. Journal of Mammalogy, 86/3: 531-540. Accessed April 03, 2011 at