Hispid Pocket Mouse Chaetodipus hispidus Baird

Description:   This largest of the pocket mice in Kansas can be distinguished from other species in the state by its coarse, instead of soft, fur. The upper parts of its body are brownish-gray and black, with a broad buffy lateral line from the nose to the hind foot separating the upperparts from the white underparts. The tail is bicolored, black above and white below, and is shorter than the head and body; it lacks a terminal tuft. The ears are dusky inside and buffy on the outside and edges. The large hind feet have naked soles. External cheek pouches are fur-lined.

Size:   Adults may attain the following dimensions: total length 190-237 mm; tail 71-114 mm; hind foot 23-30 mm; ear 8-14 mm; weight 40-60 grams.

Range and Habitat:   The hispid pocket mouse inhabits arid, open prairie land. While it is found in areas of loose, sandy or loamy soil, it is not so restricted in this respect as its close relatives. There are two subspecies of the hispid pocket mouse in Kansas, Chaetodipus hispidus spilotus in the central and eastern part, and Chaetodipus hispidus paradoxus in the western part.

Reproduction:   Very little is known about the reproduction of the hispid pocket mouse, but it is believed that they have two or more litters per year of from two to nine (usually five or six) young each. The young leave the nest after one month.

Habits:   The hispid pocket mouse spends the day in shallow burrows underground and during the night gathers food above ground. The entrances to the subterranean tunnels, which are generally under partial protection of shrubs, are the same diameter as the head of the hispid pocket mouse. Unlike smaller pocket mice, the hispid pocket mouse forms conspicuous dirt mounds about the entrances which resemble those of a small pocket gopher. The entrance is plugged with loose soil in the daytime. A nest of dry grasses and plant fibers is built, sometimes utilizing the overhead protection of rocks. Seeds are stored in other underground chambers. During the cold parts of winter, hispid pocket mice are usually inactive, but do not become torpid.

Food:   Seeds of shrubs and herbs such as sagebrush, sunflower and cacti are the principal food of the pocket mouse. In the spring and early summer insects and green plants are also consumed.

Remarks:   Great horned owls are known to prey on this species, and other owls and nocturnal mammalian predators probably do so as well.


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