Published on February 6, 2013 by Amy
The white-footed mouse is very similar to the deer mouse.. It is 16 to 20 cm long including a six to nearly ten cm long tail, and weighs 10 to 43 g. It is greyish to dull orange-brown above and white below with large ears. Young mice are more grey than their parents. White-footed mice live in wooded or brushy areas in all parts of Southern Ontario and southern Quebec, and American states south to Texas and northern Georgia.
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White-tailed mice are active all year round. They remain in their nests during very wet or very cold weather. Recent studies show that, although they do not hibernate, they do go into a deep sleep during very cold weather. Their nests are build in any well-hidden place. They burrow under logs or tree trunks. They may use birds’ nests, abandoned burrows of other small mammals, and buildings. White-tailed mice find other nests even in winter when the present nest becomes dirty with droppings or leftover foods. They are good climbers.
Like the deer mouse, the white-footed mouse has several litters of two to seven young each year. White-footed mice pair up to raise their young. Females and males build nests in stumps, hollow trees or burrow underground. Blind and hairless young are born about three weeks after the mating. Each baby is about the size of a jellybean. They immediately start to take milk from their mother and grow rapidly. During the warm months, female white-footed mice are ready to mate very soon after giving birth to a litter.
After three weeks, the young develop hair, open their eyes, and no longer take milk from their mother. They follow their mother or father on nightly trips to find food. If the female is already pregnant, she will leave this litter to have the new litter. Females born in the spring can mate when only seven weeks old and have their own families at ten weeks. Even though a female can have from 12 to 20 young in a year, at the end of a year only two white-footed mice will survive, on average, to replace the pair.
The white-tailed mouse eats seeds from many kinds of grasses, acorns, beechnuts, hickory, chestnuts, basswood, pine seeds, and cherry seeds from inside the pits. The last is a real favourite. It also eats berries, insects, mammals smaller than itself, young birds in their nests, caterpillars, and snails.
The white-footed mouse is active during the winter. The white-footed mouse gathers any food that it does not need to eat during the warm months. It hides the food under logs, rocks, or underground for the winter months.
To help it chew its food, the white-footed mouse has a double row of points, called cusps, on its back teeth, or molars. The enemies of the white-footed mouse include coyotes, foxes, owls, weasels and snakes. It is an important food for many of these carnivores.