Published on February 9, 2013 by Amy
Jumping mouse is a small animal that usually moves by hopping. Jumping mice have long hind legs and unusually long tails. They use their hind legs to hop and their tails for balance. A jumping mouse is about 4 inches (10 centimeters) long, excluding its 5-inch (13-centimeter) tail. The animal’s fur is dark on the back and yellowish-brown on the belly. Most species (kinds) have a line along the sides of their bodies where the dark-colored and the lighter-colored fur meet.
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Jumping mice are rodents that live in Asia, Europe, and North America. Scientists have identified several species of the mice. Most North American kinds live in meadows and thickets along the edges of woods in the northern United States and in Canada. They are found most often in damp places. They are closely related to the dormouse and jerboa.
Jumping mice eat insects, leaves and stems, and berries and seeds. The female jumping mouse gives birth to a litter of about five young twice a year. Unlike most other mice, jumping mice hibernate (sleep through the winter).
Scientific Classification. Jumping mice belong to the jumping mouse family, Zapodidae. North American jumping mice are in either of two genera, Zapus or Napaeozapus.
The woodland jumping mouse is the champion jumper of all North American rodents. The easiest way to tell it apart from the meadow jumping mouse is by the white-tipped tail and orange sides. When frightened, it drums its long tail on the ground to warn other mice.
The meadow jumping mouse is one of the most interesting of the mice found in North America. Half their length is made up of being tail. The upper parts of the body are black with pale yellow hairs showing through. The sides are pale yellow with a scattering of black hairs. The underparts and feet are white. The long tail is white below and greyish on top. If the mouse stays still in a field, it is difficult to see. This is because of its colour pattern.
If an enemy tries to catch the meadow jumping mouse, it will make two or three long jumps of about a metre each. Then it will take shorter jumps and stay still. This is its best way of avoiding capture. Also, the meadow jumping mouse can run at nearly two metres per second. This is not a slow mouse.
One species of jumping mouse, Prebles meadow jumping mouse, is considered a threatened species.