Neotomodon alstoniMexican volcano mouse

Geographic Range

Neotomodon alstoni, commonly called the Mexican volcano mouse, is endemic to a chain of mountains in Mexico known as the Transvolcanic Belt, or the Transversal Neovolcanic Axis in the Mexican states of Morelos, Michocan, Veracruz, and Estado de Mexico. It can be found between the altitudes of 7,800 and 14,000 feet (Luis et al. 2000, Villalpando et al. 2000)


The volcano mouse is found in pine forests where there is an understory of rock and grasses. It lives inside of burrows where it is fairly safe from some of its predators, and has been known to take over abandoned pocket gopher burrows (Ayala-Guerrero et al. 1998, Nowak 1999).

  • Range elevation
    2600 to 4600 m
    8530.18 to 15091.86 ft

Physical Description

The head and body length is 100 to 130mm, and the tail is an additional 80 to 105mm. While the ears are almost hairless, the upper parts of the body are covered with a dense gray fur, while the underbelly is whitish. Adults usually weigh 40 to 60 grams. (Nowak 1999)

  • Range mass
    40 to 60 g
    1.41 to 2.11 oz
  • Range length
    100 to 130 mm
    3.94 to 5.12 in


This species reproduces between early June and September. Litters averaging 3 offspring are produced after a gestation peiod of about 27 days. Young of both sexes reach reproductive maturity around the age of 174 days.

  • Breeding season
    From early June to September
  • Average number of offspring
  • Average gestation period
    27 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    174 days
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    174 days

Mexican volcano mice show evidence of at least temporary monogamy. The fathers exhibit paternal care (retrieving the young, standing guard, maintaining the nest, huddling, and inspecting and grooming the young), and often spend almost as much time caring for the young as the mother. As lactation progresses, both males and females decrease the time spent huddling with the young. Females tend to stop huddling they young when they reach 27 days old, while males continue to huddle the young up to and beyond 30 days. (Luis et al. 2000)


The exact lifespan of N. alstoni is not known, but laboratory observations suggest that these may reach up to 5 years of age. (Ayala-Guerrero et al. 1998)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    5 (high) years


The complex social system of N. alstoni is not fully understood. In many cases, males show subordination to their mates and will even assume a submissive position on their backs when confronted by the female (Luis et al. 2000). Dominance behaviors have been observed among males in captivity (Granados et al. 1994).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

As opportunistic omnivores, these mice will eat a wide variety of items, including monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico (Glendinning and Brower, 1990), seeds, and other insects and vegetation. They are also known to live well in captivity on a diet of Purina rat chow (Ayala-Guerrero et al. 1998 et al. 1998).

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

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Neotomodon alstoni adapts well to captivity and therefore is a good species for labaratory research.

  • Positive Impacts
  • research and education

Conservation Status


Daniel Huereca (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Kate Teeter (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.



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

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

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


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).

male parental care

parental care is carried out by males


Having one mate at a time.


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.


active during the night


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

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


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


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


Living on the ground.


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


Ayala-Guerrero, F., J. Ramos, L. Vargras-Reyna, G. Mexicano. 1998. Sleep Patterns of the Volcano Mouse (*Neotomodon alstoni alstoni*). Physiology and Behavior, 64(4): 577-580.

Glendinning, J., L. Brower. 1990. Feeding and Breeding Responses of Five Mice Species to Overwintering Aggregations of the Monarch Butterfly.. Journal of Animal Ecology, 59: 1091-1112.

Granados, H., J. Luis, A. Carmona, G. Espinosa, T. Arenas. 1995. "Comportamiento agresivo del Macho del Ratón de los Volcanes *Neotomodon alstoni* (Rodentia:Cricetidae)." (On-line). Accessed November 14, 2001 at!GRANA~1.HTM.

Luis, J., A. Carmona, J. Delgado, F. Cervantes, R. Cardenas. 2000. Parental Behavior of the Volcano Mouse, *Neotomodon alstoni* (Rodentia: Muridae), in Captivity.. Journal of Mammalogy, 81(2): 600-605.

Nowak, R. M., 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th Ed.. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Villalpando, I., H. Villafan-Monroy, D. Aguayo, A. Zepeda-Rodriguez, H. Espitia. sept 1, 2000. Ultrastructure and motility of the caudal epididymis spermatozoa from the volcano mouse (*Neotomodon alstoni alstoni* Merriam, 1898). Journal of Experimental Zoology, 287(4): 316-326.