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Plains Pocket Mouse

Plains Pocket Mouse (Perognathus flavescens) The color of the Plains Pocket Mouse varies with soil color. The black volcanic sands near Flagstaff, Arizona harbor mice with nearly black fur, and mice with nearly white fur match the white gypsum dunes.

Plains Pocket Mouse

Plains Pocket Mouse

Plains Pocket Mice are shy and nocturnal. Bright moonlit nights suppress their activity, perhaps because it would expose them to predators such as owls. Although Plains Pocket Mice are seed-eaters, they also eat insects, either when those are abundant, or when seeds are scarcer. When they are in their burrows, they plug the entrance with soil, and sometimes add another plug farther into the tunnel.

The plains pocket mouse is pale buff to yellowish or reddish, with a variable dorsal wash of black hairs. The lateral line of buffy orange is generally less striking and the dorsal color is not as dark as that of the olive-backed pocket mouse. A buffy postauricular patch is often present. Measurements are: total length 123-145 mm; length of tail 52-71 mm; length of hindfoot 16-19 mm; length of ear 6-8 mm; weight 7-12 g.

Diet: Diet of the plains pocket mouse is mostly seeds of grasses and forbs. Animals captured by seeds of spiderwort, ricegrass, needle-grass, lupine, scurfpea, three-awn, puccoon, bindweed, milkvetch, and Cryptantha in the cheek pouches.

Habits: The plains pocket mouse does not hibernate, but does become inactive for short periods during severely cold weather. Its denning areas are characterized by many small holes localized in sandy or soft soils. These holes lead to nesting sites and other chambers where seeds are cached.

During daylight hours the main entrance is plugged and, like gophers, if the plug is removed the mouse will reseal the entrance with another plug. The plains pocket mouse begins to feed at late twilight and continues all night until daybreak when it returns to its cool, protected subterranean shelter. Seeds are placed in cheek pouches with the front feet and are than carried to the storage chambers.

Plains Pocket Mouse

Plains Pocket Mouse

The reproductive activity of this uncommon species except that it probably produces one or two litters of two to five young in subterranean nests in the spring and summer.

Plains pocket mice are widespread across the eastern plains with disjunct populations in the San Luis Valley and the western margin of the state to Garfield and Mesa counties. In parts of the eastern plains they are abundant, especially in sandy prairie soils. Status of the species in western Colorado is less clear.

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