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Brief Summary

    Western harvest mouse: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    The western harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis) is a small neotomine mouse native to most of the western United States. Many authorities consider the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse to be a subspecies, but the two are now usually treated separately.

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Comprehensive Description

Distribution

    Distribution
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Reithrodontomys megalotis is found over a wide portion of the western United States of America and central Mexico. It is broadly distributed from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Coast. It occurs at elevations from Death Valley, California (below sea level), to 4000 m on the Popocatepetl and Orozaba volcanoes in Central Mexico.

    Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
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    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
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    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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Morphology

    Morphology
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    This mouse is slender, long-tailed, and has large, naked ears. These mice range in length from 118 to 170 mm. The tail is shorter than the body, measuring between 50 and 96 cm. Western harvest mice typically weigh between 8 and 17 g. The upper incisors have distinct lengthwise grooves. There is no apparent difference in size or coloration between males and females.

    The color of the fur on the back ranges from pale-gray to brown, and the fur on the belly ranges from white to deep gray. There is a dark stripe down the middle of the back and along the forehead. There are 3 pelages categories: juvenile, sub-adult, and adult. The juvenile pelage is relatively short and woolly, with grayish brown color. Sub-adult pelage is longer, thicker, and brighter than that of a juvenile. Adult pelage is characterized by one of two patterns. The summer pelage is short and sparse, with brown above and grayish below. The stripe down the back is not clearly demarcated in the summer pelage. The winter pelage, in contrast, is thicker, longer, and paler than the summer pelage.

    Range mass: 8 to 17 g.

    Range length: 118 to 170 mm.

    Average length: 140 mm.

    Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

    Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

    Average basal metabolic rate: 0.13 W.

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    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
    editor
    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
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    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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Habitat

    Habitat
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Reithrodontomys megalotis is found in a variety of open areas, including grasslands, prairies, meadows, and marshes. It also inhabits more arid areas such as deserts, sand dunes, and shrublands.

    Range elevation: -77 to 4000 m.

    Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

    Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; chaparral ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains

    Wetlands: marsh

    Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural ; riparian

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    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
    editor
    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
    author
    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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    Reithrodontomys_megalotis/habitat

Trophic Strategy

    Trophic Strategy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    The primary diet of this mouse is seeds. However, it eats anything available at the time, including new growth of plants and insects (grasshoppers and moths). These animals sometimes cache food in their nests. Reithrodontomys megalotis drinks water.

    Animal Foods: insects

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

    Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

    Primary Diet: herbivore (Granivore )

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    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
    editor
    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
    author
    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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    Reithrodontomys_megalotis/food_habits

Associations

    Associations
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    This species is essential to western ecosystems. It reproduces rapidly, and lives a very short time, even when removed from the threat of predation. This indicates that the species does not live long in the wild. The most likely source of mortality is predation.

    As a prey species, the availability of R. megalotis likely controls the populations of many predators which rely heavily upon this species in their prey base.

    Also, because R. megalotis caches seeds, it probably helps in their dispersal.

    Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; keystone species

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    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
    editor
    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
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    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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    Reithrodontomys_megalotis/ecosystem_roles
    Associations
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Because of its small size and abundance, R. megalotis is an important prey species. There are many predators of the western harvest mouse, including owls, hawks, snakes, canids, mustelids, felids, and scorpions.

    Because of their noctural activity, it is likely that these mice have the best opportunity of avoiding predation by nocturnal predators. These mice are most active on very dark nights, which may be a strategy for avoiding predation by animals that use vision to detect prey.

    Known Predators:

    • snakes (Serpentes)
    • owls (Strigiformes)
    • shrikes (Lanius)
    • squirrels (Sciurinae)
    • weasels (Mustelinae)
    • skunks (Mephitinae)
    • foxes (Vulpes)
    • raptors (Falconiformes)
    • coyotes (Canis latrans)
    • short-tailed shrews (Blarina)
    • cats (Felidae)
    • scorpions (Scorpiones)
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    cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
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    The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
    editor
    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
    author
    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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Behavior

    Behavior
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Communication patterns have not been reported for these mice. It is likely that they communicate with conspecifics with a combination of olfactory/chemical cues, vocalizations, and tactile communication, as these avenues of communication are prevalent in rodents.

    Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

    Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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    cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
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    The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
    editor
    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
    author
    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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Life Expectancy

    Life Expectancy
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Only a few individual reach at the age of 1 year. The maximum reported lifespan for this species is 18 months.

    Range lifespan
    Status: wild:
    18 (high) months.

    Typical lifespan
    Status: wild:
    12 (high) months.

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    cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
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    The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
    editor
    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
    author
    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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    Reithrodontomys_megalotis/lifespan_longevity

Reproduction

    Reproduction
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    Reithrodontomys megalotis is a polygynous species, in which the dominant male mates with females during their estrus period.

    Mating System: polygynous

    Few individuals live more than a year. As would be predicted from this short lifespan, young reach sexual maturity early, at about 1 month of age, and full maturity is reached at about 4 to 5 months. This species breeds from early spring to late autumn, foregoing reproduction only in the most severe winter weather.

    Females have a high reproductive potential, having early sexual maturity and short gestation period of 23 to 25 days. The average litter size varies geographically, but is around 4, and as many as 9 pups can be born at one time.

    Newborns are born naked, pink and blind. Neonates weigh 1 to 1.5 g, are 7 to 8 mm in length, and are totally helpless. They have a slight coating of fur by the time they start to crawl, around 5 days of age. Their incisiors erupt around this time. The eyes and ears are open by around 11 days of age. The young are weaned by 24 days. Young are reported to leave their natal nest around 3 weeks of age.

    Reithrodontomys megalotis is known to undergo a post partum estrus cycle, allowing rapid production of litters. As females reach the age of approximately 45 weeks, there is a reduction in litter size, signalling senility.

    Breeding interval: Breeding interval varies geographically, with animals in mild climates breeding approximately once per month, year round.

    Breeding season: Wild western harvest mice breed from early spring to late autumn, foregoing reproduction only in the worst of winter weather..

    Range number of offspring: 1 to 9.

    Average number of offspring: 4.

    Range gestation period: 23 to 25 days.

    Average weaning age: 24 days.

    Average time to independence: 3 weeks.

    Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 4 to 5 months.

    Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 4 to 5 months.

    Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous ; post-partum estrous

    Average birth mass: 1.33 g.

    Average number of offspring: 3.3.

    Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male:
    80 days.

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

    Females care for their young in a nest made of grass, nursing them for up to 24 days. The young are born blind and helpless, but grow quickly. The young can leave their natal nest as early as three weeks of age. Males apparently play no role in parental care.

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

    license
    cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
    copyright
    The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
    editor
    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
    author
    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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    Reithrodontomys_megalotis/reproduction

Conservation Status

    Conservation Status
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    These mice are thought to be quite common, and not in danger. However, Canada considers R. megalotis vulnerable because it lives in grasslands. Grasslands are a threatened habitat. Also, there is little known about Canadian populations of Western harvest mice.

    US Federal List: no special status

    CITES: no special status

    IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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    cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
    copyright
    The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
    editor
    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
    author
    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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    Reithrodontomys_megalotis/conservation_status

Benefits

    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    There are no reports of these mice actually damaging crops. However, human agriculture has positively affected R. megalotis, allowing it to extend its geographic range eastward.

    license
    cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
    copyright
    The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
    editor
    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
    author
    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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    Reithrodontomys_megalotis/economic_importance_negative
    Benefits
    provided by Animal Diversity Web

    There is no known benefit of this species for humans. However, because they are important in the food web, many of the higher profile animals that people enjoy watching, such as hawks, owls, coyotes, and foxes, rely on them.

    license
    cc-by-nc-sa-3.0
    copyright
    The Regents of the University of Michigan and its licensors
    bibliographic citation
    Konishi, H. 2003. "Reithrodontomys megalotis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Reithrodontomys_megalotis.html
    editor
    Nancy Shefferly, Animal Diversity Web
    author
    Hiromi Konishi, Humboldt State University
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    Brian Arbogast, Humboldt State University
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    Reithrodontomys_megalotis/economic_importance_positive