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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

The San Joaquin Pocket Mouse vocalizes with low grunts, growls, and squeals, and communicates aggression by tooth-chattering. This species will consume earthworms and soft-bodied insects, but its diet is mainly very tiny seeds of grasses, forbs, and shrubs. Its burrows are conspicuous in the short grass where it lives, in west-central California. To groom their fur, San Joaquin Pocket Mice sandbathe, digging into the loose sandy soil and then sliding and rubbing their bodies in the sand.

Links:
Mammal Species of the World
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  • Original description: Merriam, C.H., 1889.  Preliminary revision of the North American pocket mice (genera Perognathus et Cricetodipus auct.) with descriptions of new species and subspecies and a key to the known forms, p. 15.  North American Fauna, 1:1-36.
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Distribution

endemic to a single state or province

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Global Range: West-central California. Upper Sacramento Valley, Tehama County, southward through the San Joaquin and Salinas valleys and contiguous areas to the Mojave Desert in Los Angeles, Kern, and extreme western San Bernardino counties; also the Tehachapi Mountains and foothills of the western Sierra Nevada below about 600 m (Williams et al. 1993, Best 1993).

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Range Description

This species is found in west-central California in the United States, in the Upper Sacramento Valley, Tehama County, southward through the San Joaquin and Salinas valleys and contiguous areas to the Mojave Desert in Los Angeles, Kern, and extreme western San Bernardino counties; also the Tehachapi Mountains and foothills of the western Sierra Nevada below about 600 m asl (Williams et al., 1993; Best 1993).
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Geographic Range

San Joaquin pocket mice are found in California's central valleys, including the San Joaquin, Sacramento, and Salinas valleys, as well as the surrounding foothills of the western Sierra Nevada mountains and the western Mojave desert.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

San Joaquin pocket mice have silky pelage without bristles and spines. The dorsal pelage is pale to pinkish, overlaid with blackish brown hairs. The ventral pelage is white and there are orange markings around the eyes. The tail, which is slightly larger than 50% of the total length, is bi-colored and relatively non-penicillate. Tail hairs extend less than 6 mm beyond the end of the tail. The antitragus of the ear is unlobed. San Joaquin pocket mice get their name from the fur-lined pockets in their cheeks that are used to store and transport seeds. Subspecies of P. inornatus differ in size of body, length of tail, coloration, and skull characteristics.

Range mass: 7 to 12 g.

Range length: 130 to 149 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

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Size

Length: 16 cm

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Size in North America

Sexual Dimorphism: Males are slightly larger than females.

Length:
Average: 149 mm males; 147 mm females

Weight:
Range: 7-12 g
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Ecology

Habitat

California Central Valley Grasslands Habitat

This taxon is found in the California Central Valley grasslands, which extend approximately 430 miles in central California, paralleling the Sierra Nevada Range to the east and the coastal ranges to the west (averaging 75 miles in longitudinal extent), and stopping abruptly at the Tehachapi Range in the south. Two rivers flow from opposite ends and join around the middle of the valley to form the extensive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that flows into San Francisco Bay.

Perennial grasses that were adapted to cool-season growth once dominated the ecoregion. The deep-rooted Purple Needle Grass (Nassella pulchra) was particularly important, although Nodding Needle Grass (Stipa cernua), Wild Ryes (Elymus spp.), Lassen County Bluegrass (Poa limosa), Aristida spp., Crested Hair-grass (Koeleria pyramidata), Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens,), and Coast Range Melicgrass (Melica imperfecta) occurred in varying proportions. Most grass growth occurred in the late spring after winter rains and the onset of warmer and sunnier days. Interspersed among the bunchgrasses were a rich array of annual and perennial grasses and forbs, the latter creating extraordinary flowering displays during certain years. Some extensive mass flowerings of the California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Lupines (Lupinus spp.), and Exserted Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja exserta) are found in this grassland ecoregion.

Prehistoric grasslands here supported several herbivores including Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra americana), elk (including a valley subspecies, the Tule Elk, (Cervus elaphus nannodes), Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), California ground squirrels, gophers, mice, hare, rabbits, and kangaroo rats. Several rodents are endemics or near-endemics to southern valley habitats including the Fresno Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys nitratoides exilis), Tipton Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides), San Joaquin Pocket Mouse (Perognathus inornatus), and Giant Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys ingens). Predators originally included grizzly bear, gray wolf, coyote, mountain lion, ringtail, bobcat, and the San Joaquin Valley Kit Fox (Vulpes velox), a near-endemic.

The valley and associated delta once supported enormous populations of wintering waterfowl in extensive freshwater marshes. Riparian woodlands acted as important migratory pathways and breeding areas for many neotropical migratory birds. Three species of bird are largely endemic to the Central Valley, surrounding foothills, and portions of the southern coast ranges, namely, the Yellow-billed Magpie (Pica nuttalli), the Tri-colored Blackbird (Agelaius tricolor EN), and Nuttall’s Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii).

The valley contains a number of reptile species including several endemic or near-endemic species or subspecies such as the San Joaquin Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum ruddocki), the Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard (Gambelia sila EN), Gilbert’s Skink (Plestiodon gilberti) and the Sierra Garter Snake (Thamnophis couchii). Lizards present in the ecoregion include: Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum NT); Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis); Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata); and the Northern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea).

There are only a few amphibian species present in the California Central Valley grasslands ecoregion. Special status anuran taxa found here are: Foothill Yellow-legged Frog (Rana boylii NT); Pacific Chorus Frog (Pseudacris regilla); and Western Spadefoot Toad (Pelobates cultripes). The Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) occurs within this ecoregion.

Although many endemic plant species are recognized, especially those associated with vernal pools, e.g. Prickly Spiralgrass (Tuctoria mucronata). A number of invertebrates are known to be restricted to California Central Valley habitats. These include the Delta Green Ground Beetle (Elaphrus viridis CR) known only from a single vernal pool site, and the Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle (Desmocerus californicus dimorphus) found only in riparian woodlands of three California counties.

Vernal pool communities occur throughout the Central Valley in seasonally flooded depressions. Several types are recognized including valley pools in basin areas which are typically alkaline or saline, terrace pools on ancient flood terraces of higher ground, and pools on volcanic soils. Vernal pool vegetation is ancient and unique with many habitat and local endemic species. During wet springs, the rims of the pools are encircled by flowers that change in composition as the water recedes. Several aquatic invertebrates are restricted to these unique habitats including a species of fairy shrimp and tadpole shrimp.

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Comments: Dry, open, grassy or weedy ground. Arid annual grasslands, savanna, and desert-shrub associations with sandy washes or finely textured soil. Found in low densities in grassland-blue oak savannas up to 1500 ft on east side of San Joaquin Valley. Occurs in alkali sink associations on the floor of the Tulare Basin and in ATRIPLEX and EPHEDRA associations in the northwestern portion of the Tulare Basin (Biosystems Analysis 1989). In Lake County, occurs on rocky south-facing slope in chamise and buck brush chararral at elevation of 420 m (see Best 1993). On the Carrizo Plain, occurs in areas with ERODIUM, AMSINCKIA, ASTRAGALUS, and BROMUS. Young are born in underground burrows. Burrows often are at the bases of shrubs.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species inhabits dry, open, grassy or weedy ground, and arid annual grasslands, savanna, and desert-shrub associations with sandy washes or finely textured soil. It is found in low densities in grassland-blue oak savannas up to 1,500 ft on the east side of San Joaquin Valley. It occurs in alkali sink associations on the floor of the Tulare Basin and in Atriplex and Ephedra associations in the northwestern portion of the Tulare Basin. In Lake County, it occurs on rocky south-facing slope in chamise and buck brush chararral at elevation of 420 m asl (see Best, 1993). On the Carrizo Plain, it occurs in areas with Erodium, Amsinckia, Astragalus, and Bromus.

Young are born in underground burrows. Burrows often are at the bases of shrubs. Breeding occurs March-July. Females produces two or more litters of usually four to six per year (Best, 1993). Feeds on seeds of annual and perennial grasses, forbs, and shrubs (Best, 1993) This pocket mouse carries seeds in external cheek pouches to underground storage chambers. Also sometimes eats soft-bodied insects (Best, 1993). Often torpid in colder months.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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San Joaquin pocket mice are found in open grasslands, savanna, and desert shrub communities. They are most abundant in uncultivated areas and often live in areas with sandy washes and finely textured soils. Agriculture and urban development have displaced San Joaquin pocket mice from much of their native habitat.

Range elevation: 350 to 600 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland

  • California Department of Fish and Game. California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System. 17996. Sacramento, California: California Interagency Wildlife task Group. 1990. Accessed September 24, 2009 at nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentVersionID=17996.
  • California Department of Fish and Game. Terrestrial Mammal Species of Special Concern in California. 31. Sacramento, California: Philip V. Brylski. 1998. Accessed September 24, 2009 at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/nongame/ssc/docs/mammal/species/31.pdf.
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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

Comments: Feeds on seeds of annual and perennial grasses, forbs, and shrubs (Best 1993); carries seeds in external cheek pouches to underground storage chambers. Also sometimes eats soft-bodied insects (Best 1993).

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Food Habits

San Joaquin pocket mice are mainly granivorous, eating seeds of annual and perennial grasses, shrubs, and forbs. They will also eat soft-bodied insects, cutworms, earthworms, and even grasshoppers. In captivity they have been known to eat a mixture of parakeet seeds, rolled oats, sunflower seeds, and small amounts of leaves. Seeds and oats have been used to catch these animals live. They transport and store their food in fur-lined pockets in their cheeks.

Animal Foods: insects; terrestrial worms

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts

Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

Primary Diet: herbivore (Granivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Little is known about the ecosystem role of San Joaquin pocket mice because of extensive loss of their natural habitat. They are prey for their predators and they are themselves predators of small invertebrates. They may disperse seeds and help aerate the soil through burrowing.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; soil aeration

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Predation

San Joaquin pocket mice are preyed on by birds of prey, foxes, snakes, and feral cats. They are similar in color to their sandy surroundings, making it difficult for predators to see them. They are vigilant and seek safety when they detect a predator and are active at night to minimize their detection by predators. Through habitat destruction and the use of rodenticides, humans are the biggest threat to this species currently.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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General Ecology

In Madera County, density was 0.4/ha. In Fresno County, density was 7.3/ha and 5.0/ha on ungrazed sites; home range size is up to a few hundred square meters. See Best (1993).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Communication signals include the growl, squawl, and low grunt. Other forms of auditory communication include tooth-chattering and foot-drumming. Scent marking is also used. Touching is a highly used signal during mating. These animals perceive their environment through visual, tactile, acoustic, and chemical channels.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Cyclicity

Comments: Often torpid in colder months.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

San Joaquin pocket mice have been observed living up to 10 years. Most probably live only one to a few years and most mortality probably occurs when individuals are less than 1 year old.

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Reproduction

Breeds March-July; produces two or more litters of usually 4-6 per year (Biosystems Analysis 1989, Best 1993).

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During estrus, females are involved in rushing, chasing, fighting, sunbathing, marking, digging, kicking, naso-anal contact, grooming, mounting, and escape leaping. Interaction between the sexes changes as the female passes through estrus. Mating involves one bout of mounting, afterwards the female twists onto her side and throws the male off. It is likely that males and females have multiple mates, but there is little information on the mating strategy.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

The breeding season occurs from March to July, with the female having at least 2 litters of 4 to 6 offspring per year. The estrus cycle is 5 to 6 days in length.

Breeding interval: Females have at least two litters per breeding season.

Breeding season: San Joaquin pocket mice breed between March and July.

Range number of offspring: 4 to 6.

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

The young are born in a burrow near the base of shrubs. They remain in the birthing den until mature. The length of time to maturity is unknown. Females invest heavily in offspring through gestation and lactation. Males are unlikely to contribute to offspring care.

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

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

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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 widespread, and its populations are believed to be secure at present throughout most of its range, although it has declined in the northern part of the range as a result of habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation.
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San Joaquin pocket mice are listed as a species of least concern on the IUCN Red List. Although agricultural and urban development have led to habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, they are currently considered secure throughout much of their range. Most of the population decline has been in the northern part of the range. It is thought that up to 90% of the original habitat has been destroyed. Official threats include; agriculture, annual and perennial non-timber crops, and industrial farming and ranching. Rodenticides used to control ground squirrel populations also threaten San Joaquin pocket mice.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Status

Two subspecies, P. inornatus neglectus (McKittrick pocket mouse) and P. inornatus ammophilus (Salinas pocket mouse) are Near Threatened.
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Population

Population
It is apparently secure within its range (NatureServe). In Madera County, density was 0.4/ha. In Fresno County, density was 7.3/ha and 5.0/ha on ungrazed sites; home range size is up to a few hundred square metres.

The three subspecies are known from roughly 50 locations (Caitlin Bean, unpublished map, 2004) that represent probably no more than three dozen distinct occurrences, and not all of these are extant.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Comments: More than 90% of the original habitat has been destroyed as a result of agricultural development.

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Major Threats
Agricultural development is a threat to the species in particular in the northern part of its range. More than 90% of the original habitat has been destroyed as a result of agricultural development (NatureServe).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
All three subspecies are of conservation concern: P. i. inornatus and P. i. psammophilus. Also, P. i. neglectus was assessed as "Near Threatened" in a previous Red List evaluation (Hafner et al., 1998). It is not known whether or not it occurs in any protected areas.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no adverse effects of P. inornatus on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

San Joaquin pocket mice are important members of native ecosystems and their predation on insects may impact agricultural pests.

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Wikipedia

San Joaquin pocket mouse

The San Joaquin pocket mouse or Salinas pocket mouse (Perognathus inornatus) is a species of rodent in the family Heteromyidae. It is endemic to California in the United States.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Linzey, A.V. & Hammerson, G. (2008). "Perognathus inornatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 


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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Williams et al. (1993) referred Perognathus longimembris psammophilus to P. inornatus (as a subspecies) and synonymized the nominal taxon sillimani with psammophilus; on the bases of different karyotypes and body proportions, P. i. neglectus and P. i. inornatus probably are different species (Williams, cited by Best 1993); P. i. neglectus and P. i. psammophilus may belong to the same taxon (Williams et al. 1993). As least two and possibly three distinct species currently are included under the name inornatus (Williams et al. 1993; Patton, in Wilson and Reeder 2005).

Based on molecular data, Riddle (1995) found a phylogenetic distinction between P. longimembris and P. inornatus, though these taxa formed a clade relative to P. amplus.

See Best (1994) for a key to the species of Perognathus.

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