Big-eared deermouse, Florida deermouse, Gopher mouse
The Florida mouse (Podomys floridanus ) is a species of rodent in the family Cricetidae. It is the only species in the genus Podomys, which is the only mammal genus endemic to Florida. The Florida mouse (also known as the big-eared deermouse, the Florida deermouse, and the gopher mouse) is found only in a limited area in central peninsular Florida and in one small area in the Florida panhandle. The mouse inhabits some of Florida's hottest and driest areas in the high pinelands, sandhills, flatlands, and coastal scrub.Show More
The mouse is an omnivore, measures 195 mm (7.7 in) in total length, has relatively large ears, and displays brown to orange upperparts and white underparts. The mouse breeds throughout the year, and raises its two or three young per litter in the nesting chambers and passages it constructs in the burrow of the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus ). Real estate development and a decline in the gopher tortoise population threaten the mouse's future. The species is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.Show Less
Florida mice have soft and silky pelage that is brown above and orange on the cheeks, shoulders, and lower sides. Underparts are white. The young are gray. Florida mice have relatively large, nearly naked ears, a relatively short tail approximately 80% of total body length, and large hind feet. There is no difference in appearance between males and females.
Florida mice are found in North America. It is the only mammal genus endemic only to Florida. The species occurs from north-central Florida south to Highlands County and Sarasota County. It is found along the Atlantic coast from St. Johns County south to Miami-Dade County. An isolated population is found in the Florida panhandle at Franklin County, Florida. These mice inhabit sand pine scrub and the high pinelands of turkey oak and longleaf pine. They are also found in the slash pine and turkey oak habitat of the southern ridge sandhills, in scrubby flatlands, and in coastal scrub associations. Populations are greater in the scrub and flatlands than in the highlands. Florida mice largest populations may occur within Ocala National Forest and the scrubs along Lake Wales Ridge.
Florida mice are nocturnal rodents. They are active throughout the year except on especially cold nights. These mice can climb, but they are primarily terrestrial. Florida mice like to share long, deep burrows of the Gopher tortoise. Mice make nest chambers, small side passages, sometimes a pad of oak leaves and wiregrasses for chamber floors, and small chimney openings in the roof of the burrow. They use these openings, the main entrance, and side passages for entrance to and exit from the burrow. In the absence of Gopher tortoise burrows, Florida mice will use burrows of the Oldfield mouse or will make their own. Florida mice communicate with the help of shrills and high pitched squeaks. When excited, they thump the ground rapidly and make a drumming noise with their front feet.
Little is known about the mating habits of Florida mice. They breed throughout the year with a peak between July and December and a lesser peak in January and February. Gestation lasts around 23-24 days. Females produce 2 litters on average with 2-4 pups. The young are born in nests in the burrow. These mice dig side burrows off the main burrow of the Gopher tortoise, line them with shredded plant material, and use them as nurseries. Newborn weigh 1.9-2.9 g (0.067–0.102 oz). Teeth begin appearing on the fourth day. The young become active and agile by the 10th day, and the eyes open by the 16th day. Mothers nurse their young non-stop for the first two weeks of life. Weaning occurs at 3-4 weeks, and the young display adult behavior at this time.
One of the main the main treats to Florida mice is the destruction of their habitat. These mice occur in a restricted habitat in the United States and that habitat is threatened not only by agricultural and real estate development but by wildfire suppression. Habitat decline is expected to continue into the future. Florida mice are also dependent upon Gopher tortoise burrows, but disease and habitat loss are responsible for decline in the tortoise population. Red imported fire ants are another potential threat to Florida mice as they threaten both tortoise and mouse populations.
According to IUCN, the Florida mouse is locally common and widespread throughout its range but no overall population estimate is available. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.