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Eastern Harvest Mice eat seeds, some fresh green plant matter, and small insects. They prefer damp habitats, particularly meadows, marshlands, and weed-covered banks of irrigation ditches.
Eastern harvest mouse
They seldom occur in forested areas. They build nests of shredded grasses and plant fibers, and use the nests year-round. Most offspring are born in late spring, summer, or early fall. Litter size can range from 2 to 7; 4 is average.
A diminutive harvest mouse like R. montanus, but upperparts deep brown or gray, heavily mixed with black, especially on the mid-dorsal area; ears blackish all over rather than dark at the base and light at the tip; tail about as long as head and body, the dark dorsal and light ventral stripes about equal in width. External measurements average: total length, 126 mm; tail, 61 mm; hind foot, 16 mm. Weight, 10-15 g.
Habits: . The eastern harvest mouse is found mainly in habitats dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants characteristic of early vegetational succession, including places such as abandoned fields, weed-filled ditches, and briar thickets.Eastern harvest mice are essentially nocturnal, although at times they may be active during the daylight hours, particularly during cold weather. During periods of cold weather, these mice huddle together in the nest at night to reduce heat loss from their bodies, and they feed in the daytime when it is warmer.
Life cycle:A brownish gray to rich brown mouse with a grayish white belly. Tail is gray above and white below. Total length ranges from 10 â€“ 15 cm (3.9 â€“ 5.9 in). Ears are rather large. Tail is longer than 2.5 cm (1 in) but shorter than combined length of head and body. There is a vertical groove running down the front of each upper incisor.The Eastern Harvest Mouse breeds all year. After a gestation period of about 22 days, 2 â€“ 3 young are born in a globular, baseball-size nest, constructed of shredded grasses or plant fibers and placed on or just above the ground in dense vegetation. The young grow rapidly and are weaned within 4 weeks. Sexual maturity is reached at an age of 11 â€“ 12 weeks.
Damages:Signs found at the scene will help you identify the species causing damage. Prairie and meadow voles leave characteristic surface runways that are visible after snowmelt (Figure 3). The runways consist of closely clipped vegetation, about 1 to 2 inches wide. Small holes lead to underground runways and nesting areas. Pine voles have extensive underground burrow systems, and spend little time above the leaf litter and ground cover layer. Damage that is primarily underground (versus aboveground), coupled with the absence of surface runway systems, typically is caused by pine voles. .
Voles usually damage woody plants during late fall through early spring. Voles tunnel through snow, and may gnaw on trees and shrubs up to the height that snow accumulates. Individual tooth marks (about 1/16-inch wide and approximately â…œ-inch long) may be visible on the wood after winter vole damage. The gnawing marks left by voles will be irregular in appearance and at various angles. In contrast, rabbits leave tooth marks that are about â…›-inch wide and very regular. Pine voles, and occasionally meadow and prairie voles, tunnel belowground and feed on roots of trees and shrubs.
Eastern harvest mouse
Control: Small rodents, excluding squirrels, cause most seed losses in late winter when the population is on the increase. They are ground dwellers, making their nests and runways beneath pine straw and leaves, and in the grass. Although some daylight feeding is done, most foraging is at night on top of the surface litter. Mice can locate seeds in total darkness and can even discriminate between conifer seed and other seed by means of a highly developed sense of smell. Winter populations in Louisiana average four to six mice per acre , and they will consume up to a pound or more of seed between seedfall and germination. Therefore, seeds require protection from these small rodents before direct seeding can be practical.
To provide that protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1956) had recommended the addition of endrin to powdered bird repellents. Not only did endrin give good protection from rodents, it also repelled many insects that feed on pine seed. Then, when liquid Arasan and endrin were combined in 1959, a repellent was formulated, registered, and labeled that is still in use today. The two in combination seem to have a synergistic effect on small rodents and provide much greater protection than endrin alone. In the laboratory, most mice will sample a few treated seeds, ingest a sublethal dose, become sick, and will often starve to death before taking more treated seeds. When a choice of other food is available, they show no apparent ill effects from the few treated seed they do eat.
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