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Florida Mouse (Gopher Mouse) (Podomys floridanus)



The Florida Mouse

The Florida Mouse (Podomys floridanus, also known as the Gopher Mouse, ) is a small rodent, currently on the endangered species list because of land development and destruction of their habitat.

Since the Florida Mouse really depends on the Gopher Tortoise for its survival, which is also an endangered species, destruction of the tortoise is also leading to the population decline of the mouse.

The Florida Mouse is found only in Florida on sandy beaches and scrub-brush. In fact, the Florida Mouse is the only mammal that is limited to Florida. The Gopher Tortoise makes its home here in burrows, and the Florida Mouse uses the tortoise burrow, making its home in a corridor off of the main route for the tortoise. If a tortoise burrow is not available, the Florida Mouse will often use a discarded burrow of the oldfield mouse.

The mouse is nocturnal, using cover of darkness to escape from predators and is active all year. Even though it is considered large for its species, the Florida Mouse is small, only growing to an average length of 5-8 inches (12-20 cm). They have long tails, usually attaining a length of 3-5 inches (7-12 cm). They have soft brown fur with white fur on their underbellies and large, round, brown ears that donít have any fur. Florida mice have a distinctive odor, almost like a skunk.

Like most mice, the Florida Mouse is an omnivore, eating seeds, plants, some insects, nuts, and fungi, but acorns appear to be the preferred food source. Other mice will eat the dead bodies of other mice, if necessary, and they have been known, in periods of starvation, to eat their own tails.

Breeding in the Florida Mouse usually occurs between the months of July and February, but there seems to be a peak in late summer and late winter. The gestational period is estimated to be about 23-24 days, compared with other mice of the species. Litters are produced with two to four young mice per litter, and there are special chambers in their burrows that are used for breeding and nursing. Mice are born blind and hairless, and their eyes donít open until they are at least 15 days old. They are usually weaned at three to four weeks of age but are nursed continuously for the first two weeks of life.

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Bibliography:
Fred Lohrer. Discovering Florida Scrub, © 2000. Accessed on 08/06/04 at http://www.archbold-station.org/discoveringflscrub/unit2/unit2sda.html
State of Florida. About Us: Florida Division of Forestry. Accessed on 08/06/04 at http://www.fl-dof.com/state_forests/LakeWalesRidge/FlMouse.htm
Florida Mouse, eNature.com. Accessed on 08/06/04 at http://www.enature.com/fieldguide/showRguide.asp?rguideID=711&speciesID=3968
Mouse (rodent). Encarta Encyclopedia, © 2000.
Historic Bok Sanctuary - Conservation/Endangered Species. Accessed on 08/06/04 at http://www.boktower.org/conservation/species.html
Cheri Jones and James Layne. Mammalian Species. Accessed on 08/06/04 at http://www.science.smith.edu/departments/Biology/VHAYSSEN/msi/pdf/i0076-3519-427-01-0001.pdf.


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