Southern Mexican states Veracruz and Oaxaca, through Central America and south to Northwest Colombia. It is usually found at medium to high elevations (up to 2400 m), but on the Caribbean coast in Costa Rica and Panama it has been found near sea level.
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )
Head and body length: 123-148 mm
Tail length: 133-196 mm
Hind foot length: 32-40 mm
Ear length: 16-20 mm
The forest spiny pocket mouse (Heteromys desmarestianus) is sexually dimorphic, with males typically weighing about one-third more than adult females. Size and weight also vary according to geographic location. They are smallest in East Panama and largest in the mountains of Costa Rica.
Heteromys desmarestianus has fur-lined, external pouches on either side of its mouth for temporarily storing and carrying food. The back, rump, and forearms are covered with stiff black-brown hair and peppered with interspersed cream-colored hairs. The sides are often paler black, and in dry lowlands some individuals may have a dusky-orange stripe on their sides. Ventral fur and feet are white. Their tail is bicolor with a black dorsal surface and a white ventral surface. The tail is sparsely haired, and usually about 20% longer than the head and body length, and may also have a white tip. Feet are long and narrow, and hind feet are naked. H. desmarestianus can be similar to other Heteromys species within some of its range, but can be differentiated by its dark forearms, hairless feet, and sparsely-haired tail.
Range mass: 46 to 87 g.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Habitat and Ecology
This mouse makes burrows under tree roots or in open areas on the forest floor. Burrow entrances are usually vertical, unlike those of deer mice (Peromyscus spp.). Its nest is located in burrows or under logs. It feeds on palm nuts (Welfia georgii, Socratea durissima, Euterpe macrospadix, Geonoma sp., and Iriartea gigantean), other seeds (Meliosma spp., Pentaclethra macroloba, and Virola sebifera), fruit, and insects (Timm et al. 1989). Seeds may be stored in burrows or in caches above ground (Fleming 1983). Breeding occurs year-round, and a female have 5 litters per year. Litter size is usually 3. These mice live longer than many rodents of similar size, and some may survive 2 or 3 years in the wild (Fleming 1983; Reid 1997).
It is locally common in areas of wet rainforest, but it can also be found in areas of secondary growth or seasonally dry forest. In lowlands it is usually found in mature rainforest. H. desmarestianus favors habitat with abundant palms.
Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest
Although H. desmarestianus eats some insects and fruits, it is mainly a granivore. In Costa Rica, its diet consisted mainly of palm nuts (Socratea durissima, Euterpe macrospadix, Welfia georgii, Geonoma sp., and Iriartea gigantea), and other seeds (Meliosma sp., Pentaclethra macroloba, and Viriola sebifera).
Life History and Behavior
Perception Channels: tactile ; chemical
Heteromys desmarestianus breeds year-round, but during extended dry periods some males and females may become reproductively inactive. Sexually active males have noticeably enlarged scrotal testes. Sexually active females can have up to five litters per year, with an average litter size of three and an interval between pregnancies of two months or longer. Annual survivorship probabilities are greater than 20%, and some individuals may survive up to 3 years in the wild.
Key Reproductive Features: gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Heteromys desmarestianus
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Heteromys desmarestianus
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 227
Species With Barcodes: 1
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Heteromys goldmani
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1996Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
H. desmarestianus has no special conservation status, but because it dwells in tropical forests it is negatively impacted by severe deforestation and non-forested agriculture. Currently it is still locally common in forested areas.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
No negative impacts have been reported or discussed.
Because it is such an avid seed hoarder, H. desmarestianus is probably an important disperser of palm seeds and other large-seeded species.
Desmarest's spiny pocket mouse
Desmarest's spiny pocket mouse (Heteromys desmarestianus) is a species of rodent in the family Heteromyidae. It is found in Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama.
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