Peromyscus aztecus occurs in the mid- to high elevations in many mountain ranges in the highlands of Mexico and Central America. Aztec mice have been found in southwestern Jalisco, Michoacan, and central Veracruz, through the volcanic belt. These mice are found in the Mexican States of Puebla, Morelos, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Ciapas, as well as into Central America.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )
- Vazquez, L., G. Cameron, R. Medellin. 2001. Peromyscus aztecus. Mammalian Species, 649: 1-4.
Peromyscus aztecus is a medium sized member of the genus Peromyscus. Individuals weigh between 22 and 36 g, and are from 197 to 260 mm in length. The fur is a pale ochre with black dorsally. The flanks are reddish, and the under parts are light buff. A black ring around the eye is present. The feet are white. The tail is bicolored with a white tip and is about as long as the body. Other measurements include: hind foot, 22.5 to 29 mm; ear, 15.5 to 21.5 mm; average length of skull, 33.3 mm; and the average size of the rostrum, 13.8 mm
Range mass: 22 to 36 g.
Range length: 197 to 260 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; heterothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike
Habitat and Ecology
It is largely insectivorous and includes ants, weevils, crickets, and beetles in the diet; a few seeds (Solanum sp. and others), and green plant material are also eaten (Alvarez et al. 1984, in Reid 1997).
Aztec mice occur at elevations between 1,000 m to 2,700 m. Vegetation types in their habitat are variable, and dependon the location. In Michoacan, the vegetation consists of montane, boreal coniferous forests. In Jalisco, pine/oak habitat and cloud forest cover the area. In Guerrero, P. aztecus occupies the cloud, oak, and pine/oak habitat types. Juniper forests are the used area in volcanic regions. These rodents often occur in fields with poor cover and abandoned agricultural fields.
Range elevation: 1000 to 2700 m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest
Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian
The diet of P. aztecus consists of many different things depending on their location and time of year. In Guerrero, they eat primarily grasses and seeds. In Jalisco, they eat monocot seeds in the dry-hot and cold seasons, and then dicot leaves in the wet season. Some other forms of food for P. aztecus may include insects, and dicot fruits.
Animal Foods: insects
Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit
Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food
Primary Diet: omnivore
Aztec mice serve as food for many different predators. One negative role that P. aztecus may play in relationship to the ecosystem is the fact that they may retard forest regeneration. They are a force of destruction to seeds, specifically coniferous seeds.
Possible predators of P. aztecus include barn owls (Tyto alba), coyotes (Canis latrans), bobcat (Lynx rufus), and weasels (Mustela frenata). Aztec mice avoid predation by blending into their habitat, or they may run into burrows or crevices.
- barn owls (Tyto alba)
- coyotes (Canis latrans)
- bobcats (Lynx rufus)
- long-tailed weasels (Mustela frenata)
Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Life History and Behavior
Communication and Perception
Tactile communication is used when grooming as a friendly interaction, as well as during biting in defense and aggression. Chemical communication is usually related to marking behavior. This involves olfactory methods of recognition. Visual communication is less important in this species because of their nocturnal activity. However, body postures probably communicate intent when two animals meet. These animals can detect movement in little light and see short distances in the dark.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic
Status: wild: 0.5 to 2 years.
Aztec mice are monogamous. A male and female will form a pair, and participate in joint rearing of the young.
Mating System: monogamous
Peromyscus aztecus breed throughout the year if it is not too cold or too hot. The peak of the reproductive season is March to July. Individuals become mature enough to mate at about the same time that they develop their sub-adult pelage. The normal gestation period of this species is about 21 to 27 days. The average litter size is reported to be 3.4. Time of weaning is 3 to 4 weeks. The reproductive performance may decline after 3 to 5 litters or when a female reaches about 18 months of age. Sexual behavior includes grooming, driving, mounting, intromission, and ejaculation.
Breeding interval: These mice can breed every month or so while weather conditions permit it.
Breeding season: P. aztecus breeds from March to July.
Average number of offspring: 3.4.
Range gestation period: 21 to 27 days.
Range weaning age: 3 to 4 weeks.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); viviparous
Parental care is most demonstrated by the female. Mother mice provide milk, grooming, and protection for their altricial young until they are able to leave the nest. However, the male of a mated pair may stay at the nesting site to help the rearing of the young. Male parental behavior may include grooming the young and huddling over them to help keep them warm and safe.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)
- King, J. 1968. Biology of Peromyscus (Rodentia). The American Society of Mammologists.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Peromyscus aztecus
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 44
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern
Aztec mice are not listed by CITES or IUCN.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There are many species of parasites that are found in relationship with the Peromyscus genus: pentastomids, acanthocephala, trematodes, cestodes (tapeworms), nematodes, mites, chiggers, ticks, fleas, lice, and diptera. Many of these parasites carry infectious diseases. Fleas may carry plague as well as typhus.
Negative Impacts: causes or carries domestic animal disease
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
An important role that P. aztcus may play economically for humans is that they may be used for many genetic and physiological studies in labs. They are clean, live well in the lab, are easily fed, and their reproductive rate is very high.
Positive Impacts: research and education
- Nowak, R. 1995. "White-footed Mice, or Deer Mice" (On-line). Walker's Mammals of the World, On-Line. Accessed November 18, 2002 at http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/rodentia/rodentia.muridae.peromyscus.html.
The Aztec mouse lives in temperate and mountainous regions, in the limits of humid highland forests. Its habitat is usually between 500 m and 3200 m above sea level. It is also found in sugar cane and coffee plantations.
The species is found in some disjunct regions: the centers of Veracruz and Guerrero, Oaxaca, and eastern Chiapas in Mexico. It is also found in some regions of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
The Aztec mouse is not a threatened species. Its conservation status is of least concern because its large distribution, a presumed large population, and its tolerance to various kinds of habitats. Since it lives in protected areas and no threat is apparent, it is unlikely to decline to levels of threatened species.
- Musser, G. G. and M. D. Carleton. 2005. Superfamily Muroidea. pp. 894–1531 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
- This article incorporates information from
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