Meadow Jumping Mouse Essay, Research Paper
scientific Name: Zapus Hudsonius preblei
Common name: Meadow jumping mouse
Species: Zapus Hudsonius
Size: The meadow jumping mouse has a total length of 7.1 inches to 9.3 inches. The tail is 4.3 inches to 5.5 inches long.
Weight: The meadow jumping mouse weighs 0.42 to 0.53 ounces in the spring or early summer and 0.99 ounces prior to hibernation.
Habitat: Meadow jumping mice inhabit moist areas, thick grassy fields, dense weeds and grasses along streams, ponds, marshes, and damp grassy areas by woods. The meadow jumping mouse is also found in damp meadows across the continent. Its range includes northern hardwood forests in the east and coniferous forests in the north and west of North America. They are found as south as Alabama and as north as Alaska. During the summer, they build spherical nests of woven grass about 100 mm in diameter. These are usually placed under a log, a board, a root, or a clump of vegetation. The winter hibernation nest, made of grass and leaves, is usually located in a burrow about 30-90 cm below the ground.
Life Cycle: Pregnancy takes close to three weeks and the young are born helpless and are weaned at 4 weeks in the nests made of fallen rotted logs and grass clumps. Females may breed three times during the spring to late summer breeding season and two months after birth. Males, if born early in the season, may breed the same year. Gestation, the period of development in the uterus from conception until birth or pregnancy, lasts 17 to 21 days. Meadow jumping mice live 1 to 2 years in the wild and up to 5 years in captivity. Meadow jumping mice are born into litters of 2 to 8. Females give birth to 2 or 3 litters per season. The newborns weigh about 0.8 grams and are naked and blind. During their fourth week, they open their eyes and become fully furred. It makes its nest in open fields and when hibernating from November to April it makes their nests 2-3 feet underground. They never travel more the one half to 2 acres in its whole life. They are nocturnal and are rarely numerous enough to do damage. Males have overlapping home ranges and are tolerant of one another but females have more exclusive territories. They are considered to be solitary creatures and are not antagonistic even when placed with strangers.
Diet: Meadow jumping mice are omnivores, bur are primarily seed eaters. They also eat fruit, insects and their larvae. These species spends most of its time out of sight, foraging beneath long grasses for seeds, berries and insects. The rest of its time is spent in leaf-lined dens, where it hibernates seven months out of every year. The meadow jumping mouse eats mostly the seeds of grasses, sedges other plants of the field. It also eats nuts, berries, and fungi. During summer, the underground fungus, ‘endogenous’ makes up one eighth of its food. During the spring, beetles, other insects, and caterpillars make up half of its food. It has two different ways of reaching seeds. It cuts the stem of the plant at the bottom and pulls it down. Sometimes it climbs the stem, cuts off the seed head, and carries it down to the ground in its mouth. The meadow jumping mouse does not store food. Before hibernating, it eats enough food to add about 6 g of fat to its body. It does this in about two weeks of heavy eating. They are capable of hibernation for seven to eight months of the year, and they store large quantities of fat. They do not build up winter food caches, and they lack cheek pouches.
Physical Characteristics: The Meadow Jumping Mouse or Kangaroo Mouse is a small, long tailed mouse with large hind legs. Its soft fur is yellowish brown on top and white on its belly. They have coarse wiry pelage. Its back is olive brown, cause by a mixture of black and buff hairs. The flanks are paler and the underparts are buffy white. The belly and back are distinctly separated by clear pale yellow stripes. The tail is sharply bi-coloured, brown above and white below. The Meadow Jumping Mouse has 18 teeth. It inhabits open fields and invades cultivated areas. They might be mistaken for frogs because of their unique jump. They use their powerful legs to jump up to 12 feet. They have four fingers on their front feet and five fingers on their back feet. Many of them vary in color or size. Some closely related species are the Woodland Jumping Mouse and the Western Jumping Mouse. They do not normally progress by jumping but crawl slowly on all fours or make short hops. When startled, however, they often take several leaps of up to 1 meter in length, using their powerful hind legs for propulsion and their long tail for balance. They are capable of climbing in bushes and are excellent swimmers, sometimes diving to depths of more than 1 meter. Jumping mice are primarily nocturnal and may wander 1 kilometer in search of moist habitat. The normal body temperature is about 37 degrees Celsius but drops to as low as 2 degrees Celsius during torpor.
Enemies: Their predators include owls, hawks, ravens, red foxes, gray foxes, wolves, minks, long-tailed weasels, domestic cats, snakes, frogs, and pikas. Meadow jumping mice are now an endangered species and are rarely seen. Biologists believe shrinking populations are the result of widespread habitat degradation caused by development, water diversion and gravel and sand mining. If an enemy tries to catch the meadow jumping mouse, it will make two or three long jumps of about a meter each. Then it will take shorter jumps and stay still. This is its best way of avoiding capture.
Adaptations: Using its long tail as a rudder, a Preamble s meadow jumping mouse can launch itself 18 inches into the air and switch direction mid flight. It can travel three feet in a single jump, and also swims. If the mouse stays still in a field, it is difficult to see because of its color pattern. The forelimbs are short and are used in holding and manipulating the food as the mouse feeds in an upright position. Also, the meadow jumping mouse can run at nearly two meters per second to escape predators. The front teeth of the meadow jumping mouse are deeply grooved and yellow to assist in their eating.
Interesting Facts: The Preamble s meadow jumping mouse takes its name from field biologist E. A. Treble, who collected a specimen of the animal in 1895. The mice have grayish to yellowish-brown fur and large hind feet. Biologists believe the species came to Colorado during the Ice Age and remained after the ice receded. The meaning of zapus is strong or big feet. Hudsonius refers to the Hudson Bay area from which the specimen used in the original description was obtained.