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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

Pinyon Mice reproduce from mid-February through mid-November, giving birth to litters of 3-6 blind, hairless young that weigh about 2.3 g each. The young have fur by the time they are two weeks old. At about 16-21 days, their eyes open and their ears unfold. They nurse for 3-4 weeks; sometimes a female becomes pregnant while she is still nursing a litter. These Mice are common in arid and semi-arid regions in the West, at elevations from sea level to more than 2,300 m. They are found most often among rocks where pinyon pine and juniper grow, but are not limited to this habitat.

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  • Original description: Shufeldt, R.W., 1885.  Description of Hesperomys truei, a new species belonging to the subfamily Murinae, p. 407.  Proceedings of the U.S. National Museum, 8:403-408.
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Distribution

Pinyon mice can be found as far east as the panhandle of north Texas and as far west as the Pacific coast. The northern limit of their range is central Oregon, and the southern limit is southern Mexico.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

  • Hoffmeister, D., D. Williams, S. Anderson, T. Lawlor. 1981. Mammalian Species #161: <>. Pp. 1-5 in Mammalian Species, Vol. 151-200. The American Society of Mammalogists.
  • Wilson, D., S. Ruff. 1999. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.
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Range Description

This species occurs in southwestern and central Oregon, northern Nevada, northern Utah, western and southern Colorado in the United States, south to northern Baja California, southeastern Arizona, and southern New Mexico; with a disjunct population in northern Texas (formerly regarded as a separate species, P. comanche) (Carleton 1989; Musser and Carleton, in Wilson and Reeder 1993). It occurs from near sea level to above 2,300 m asl.
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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Global Range: Southwestern and Central Oregon, northern Nevada, northern Utah, western and southern Colorado south to northern Baja California, southeastern Arizona, and southern New Mexico; disjunct population in northern Texas (formerly regarded as separate species, P. COMANCHE) (Carleton 1989; Musser and Carleton, in Wilson and Reeder 1993).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Pinyon mice have long, silky fur that ranges from yellow-brown to dark gray on the back and fades to white on the under parts and feet. They may or may not have a pectoral spot. The tail is tipped with long hairs and has a dark dorsal stripe running down its length. The hind feet are large, and are typically 22 mm or more in length. Juveniles have gray pelage that changes with a series of molts, starting at 7 weeks and finishing at 10 to 11 weeks of age. Coat color matches the habitat regionally, allowing these mice to blend into vegetation and hide from predators. Males and females are similar in size, the average weight is about 20 g, and the head and body length ranges between 171 to 231 mm. Tail length varies from 76 to 123 mm. The size of pinyon mice often varies with location; pinyon mice in the western parts of their range tend to have a longer tail, smaller body size, smaller ears, and smaller hind feet than their counterparts in the east.

Average mass: 20 g.

Range length: 171 to 231 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

Average mass: 25 g.

Average basal metabolic rate: 0.307 W.

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Size

Length: 23 cm

Weight: 31 grams

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Size in North America

Sexual Dimorphism: None

Length:
Average: 195 mm
Range: 171-231 mm

Weight:
Range: 15-50 g
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Ecology

Habitat

Pinyon mice are terrestrial mammals that can be found at altitudes ranging from sea level to elevations of greater than 2300 meters. They frequent arid or semi-arid climates, preferring brushland and desert, and are typically found near pinyon junipers, hence their common name. However, pinyon mice can also be found in open, grassy habitats, as well as landscapes including canyons, redwoods, yellow pine belts, sagebrush, scrub oak, boulders, cacti, and rocky slopes. Pinyon mice are able to endure warm, dry summers in addition to snowy winters. They make dens under rock ledges, outcrops, stone shelves and slabs, and in live or dead trees.

Range elevation: 0 to greater than 2300 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains

  • Hall, L., M. Morrison. 1997. Den and Relocation Site Characteristics and Home Ranges of <> in the White Mountains of California. Great Basin Naturalist, 57 (2): 124-130.
  • King, J. 1968. Biology of <> (Rodentia). The United States of America: The American Society of Mammalogists.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It occupies arid and semi-arid regions, and is most often found among rocks or on rocky slopes (but rocky terrain is not required) in a wide variety of habitats including: pinyon- juniper woodlands, chaparral and desert scrub areas, limestone cliffs, redwood forests, riparian woodlands. Nests among rocks; may also nest in trees. Individuals use multiple daytime sites (Hall and Morrison 1997).

It breeds primarily in spring and summer, throughout most of the year in Arizona and in some areas of California and Nevada (see Kirkland and Layne 1989). Average number of litters per year is 3.4 in central California. In New Mexico and Colorado, gestation lasts 25-27 days (non lactating) or about 40 days (lactating). Litter size averages about 3-4. Average life span is less than one year.

In California, the home range averaged 2.9 ha for eight males, 0.8 ha for seven females; the relatively large homes ranges may have reflected the effects of drought and reduced food availability (Hall and Morrison 1997). In New Mexico, median home range size was 0.4-1.6 ha, varying with sex and the method used. In northern New Mexico, based on short-term data, mean home range size (minimum convex polygon) was 0.41 ha (trapping data) or 0.93 ha (radio telemetry) (Ribble et al. 2002).

Diet includes seeds, nuts, berries, fungi, and insects. Often forages in trees. Active throughout the year. Primarily nocturnal.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Often among rocks or on rocky slopes (but rocky terrain not required) in a wide variety of habitats including: pinyon- juniper woodlands, chaparral and desert scrub areas, limestone cliffs, redwood forests, riparian woodlands. Nests among rocks; may also nest in trees. Individuals use multiple daytime sites (Hall and Morrison 1997).

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Pinyon mice are primarily frugivorous and granivorous, although they will also readily eat insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. Adults typically feed on juniper seeds (Juniperus) and berries in the winter and acorn mast (Quercus) in the summer. Pinyon mice are notorious at caching their food supply; they frequently dig holes and bury their food in various places around their territory, particularly around den sites. These cache networks may become quite extensive. Finally, pinyon mice are capable of surviving on a very limited water supply, which is crucial to their survival in the arid habitats they occupy.

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

Primary Diet: herbivore (Granivore )

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Comments: Feeds on seeds, nuts, berries, fungi, and insects. Often forages in trees.

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Associations

Pinyon mice are almost always found near pinyon junipers, hence their common name. Juniper seeds are the main food source of pinon mice, making them, like other members of the genus Peromyscus, significant predators of conifer seeds. Thus they impact their communities by impacting the composition of the plant community. Their seed caching behavior may also result in germination of seeds. Pinyon mice are also an important and abundant source of prey for many avian and mammalian predators.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Predation on pinyon mice has not been well studied, although predation most likely plays a role in the high mortality rate of these rodents. Their primary predators are owls, diurnal birds of prey, and snakes, especially rattlesnakes. They escape predation by remaining inactive during the day in dens, by their cryptic coloration, and by their acute senses at night.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Known predators

Peromyscus truei is prey of:
Strigiformes
Crotalus
Falconiformes

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Known prey organisms

Peromyscus truei preys on:
Arthropoda
Insecta

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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General Ecology

In California, home range averaged 2.9 ha for 8 males, 0.8 ha for 7 females; the relatively large homes ranges may have reflected the effects of drought and reduced food availability (Hall and Morrison 1997). In New Mexico, median home range size was 0.4-1.6 ha, varying with sex and the method used (Ribble and Stanley 1998).

In northern New Mexico, based on short-term data, mean home range size (minimum convex polygon) was 0.41 ha (trapping data) or 0.93 ha (radiotelemetry) (Ribble et al. 2002).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication in pinyon mice hasn't been well-studied. They are likely to use visual, auditory, chemical, and tactile modes of communication.

Peromyscus species are known for their acute senses of hearing and smell, which they use to navigate, find food, and escape predation at night. Their enlarged eyes suggest they have a well-developed sense of vision in low light conditions. Their long whiskers are used for tactile perception.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Active throughout the year. Primarily nocturnal.

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Life Expectancy

The lifespan of pinyon mice and other mice in the genus Peromyscus has not been studied in detail. An individual Peromyscus maniculatus lived to be eight years old in captivity, but studies have shown that mice in this genus rarely live more than a year in the wild. Only 20% of the young in each nest will survive their first year of life, and only 2-3% of adults live long enough to breed in consecutive seasons.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
1 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
5.4 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 5.4 years (captivity) Observations: One specimen lived at least 5.4 years in captivity (Richard Weigl 2005). They also appear to be able to reproduce up to 5.2 years of age (Steven Austad, pers. comm.).
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Reproduction

Pinyon mice have a promiscuous mating system in which females nest in small territories and males seek mating opportunities with nearby females.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Although mating can occur in all seasons, pinyon mice breed primarily from mid-February to mid-November with a peak between April and June. Females give birth to a litter of three to six pups after a gestation period of approximately 26 days, though gestation may be as long as 40 days if the female is lactating. Females first come into estrus at approximately 50 days of age, and males are capable of inseminating females at approximately 9 weeks of age.

Breeding interval: Pinyon mice breed at intervals as frequent as once monthly.

Breeding season: Pinyon mice will breed at any time between February and mid-November with a peak between April and June.

Range number of offspring: 3 to 6.

Range gestation period: 40 (high) days.

Average gestation period: 26 days.

Range weaning age: 3 to 4 weeks.

Range time to independence: 3 to 4 weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 50 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 9 weeks.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 2.315 g.

Average number of offspring: 3.4.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
50 days.

Newborn pinyon mice weigh around 2.3 grams at birth, and they are born completely hairless with their ears and eyes folded shut. The pups are capable of squeaking at one week of age, and their bodies are covered in hair by day 14. The pups nurse for three to four weeks, at which point they become independent. Females exclusively care for their young in a nest until they are weaned.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • Hoffmeister, D., D. Williams, S. Anderson, T. Lawlor. 1981. Mammalian Species #161: <>. Pp. 1-5 in Mammalian Species, Vol. 151-200. The American Society of Mammalogists.
  • King, J. 1968. Biology of <> (Rodentia). The United States of America: The American Society of Mammalogists.
  • Ribble, D., S. Stanley. 1998. Home Ranges and Social Organization of Syntopic <> and <>. Journal of Mammalogy, 79 (3): 932-941.
  • Scheibe, J. 1984. The Effects of Weather, Sex, and Season on the Nocturnal Activity of <> (Rodentia). The Southwestern Naturalist, 29 (1): 1-4.
  • Scheibe, J., M. O'Farrell. 1995. Habitat Dynamics in <>: Eclectic Females, Density Dependence, or Reproductive Constraints?. Journal of Mammalogy, 76 (2): 368-375.
  • Wilson, D., S. Ruff. 1999. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press.
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Breeds primarily in spring and summer, throughout most of year in Arizona and in some areas of California and Nevada (see Kirkland and Layne 1989). Average number of litters per year is 3.4 in central California. In New Mexico and Colorado, gestation lasts 25-27 days (nonlactating) or about 40 days (lactating). Litter size averages about 3-4. Average life span is less than 1 year.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Peromyscus truei

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 13
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Pinyon mice are not currently threatened throughout much of their range. However, since pinyon junipers are a crucial part of their habitat, destruction of such habitats can imperil these mice. The subspecies Peromyscus truei comanche, found in the pandhandle of northwestern Texas, is considered near threatened by the IUCN.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Linzey, A.V. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.)

Reviewer/s
Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Chanson, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern because it is very widespread, common in much of its range, there are no major threats and it occurs in many protected areas.

History
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/least concern
    (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

The subspecies P. truei comanche, the Palo Duro mouse, is Near Threatened.
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Population

Population
This species is considered secure in its range (NatureServe).

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no major threats to this species.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is not of conservation concern and its range includes many protected areas.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Pinyon mice serve as an important reservoir for several types of parasites. Some have speculated that they are capable of carrying plague-infested fleas, but this has not been well documented. Members of the genus Peromyscus are capable of carrying chiggers, a common pest, as well as the ticks that transmit Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease to humans. Peromyscus species are also important reservoirs for hantaviruses.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease)

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It is not known whether pinyon mice have positive affects on human populations, aside from their important ecosystem roles.

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Wikipedia

Pinyon mouse

The pinyon mouse (Peromyscus truei) is native to the southwestern United States and Baja California in Mexico. These medium-sized mice are often distinguished by their relatively large ears. The range of this species extends from southern Oregon and Wyoming in the north, and extends south to roughly the U.S.-Mexico border, with a disjunct population designated as Peromyscus truei comanche that occupies an area in the vicinity of Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas panhandle.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Linzey, A.V. & Hammerson, G. (2008). "Peromyscus truei". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Hoffmeister, Donald F. (1981). "Peromyscus truei". Mammalian Species (American Society of Mammalogists) (161): 1–5. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Includes Texas Panhandle population, formerly regarded as distinct species P. comanche. See Carleton (1989), Janecek (1990), and DeWalt et al. (1993) for evidence supporting conspecificity of comanche and truei. Subspecies gratus is now regarded as distinct species (including former truei subspecies gentilis, erasmus, zapotecae, and part of truei) (see Modi and Lee 1984). Peromyscus gratus differs in chromosome number and is sympatric with P. truei in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, though the area of sympatry is not fully known (see map in Carleton 1989). Genic data support the recognition of P. gratus as a species distinct from P. truei (Janecek 1990).

See Durish et al. (2004) for a molecular phylogeny of the P. truei species group.

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