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Rock Pocket Mouse

Rock Pocket Mouse (chaetodipus intermedius) Rock Pocket Mice dwell in rocky habitats, and only rarely live in areas with sandy or silty soils. Their inconspicuous burrows are located near or under rocks, in rocky gulches or canyons, or near boulders.


Rock Pocket Mouse

The mouse pictured is sitting on a lava rock, probably in New Mexico, and the color of its fur blends with the dark rock. This is typical of pocket mice - their color often matches the background color of their habitat. Rock Pocket Mice breed from February or March through July, and young have been seen from April through August.

The rock pocket mouse, Chaetodipus intermedius, is a small, nocturnal animal found in the deserts of the southwestern United States. Most rock pocket mice have a sandy, light-colored coat that enables them to blend in with the light color of the desert rocks and sand on which they live. However, populations of primarily dark-colored rock pocket mice have been found living in areas where the ground is covered in a dark rock called basalt caused by geologic lava flows thousands of years ago.

Today there are two forms of pocket mice: light-colored mice that live on sandy soil, and dark-colored mice that live on black lava rock. The dark mice came about through the process of evolution. Naturally occurring mutations to coat-color genes produced mice with dark fur. On black rocks, dark mice had an advantage over light mice: they were better-hidden from predators. They survived and reproduced, passing their dark-fur genes to their offspring, which still survive today.


Rock Pocket Mouse

Habits: This species inhabits chiefly rocky situations, often where boulders are large and jumbled. At the eastern base of the Guadalupe Mountains in western Texas they have been found inhabiting rocky canyons, and in the Wylie Mountains they lived among huge boulders. Occasionally, they may be found on shrubby desert slopes on pebbly soils, rarely on silt soils. Vernon Bailey reported finding them on sandy soils among rocks. It is our impression that they rarely occur in areas of loose, alluvial, and windborne sands.

They are strictly nocturnal and little is known of their habits. Their food is chiefly weed seeds, the species of plants utilized depending on availability. Judging from the meager data, breeding begins in February or March and continues for several months. Gravid females have been captured in May, June, and July. The litter varies from three to six. Nearly halfgrown young in juvenile pelage have been taken in April, May, June, and August. Their general habitat is such that they seldom conflict with man’s interests.

Once a favorable variation occurs, it can quickly become the major form in a population. Each year, mice produce more offspring than will reach adulthood. Thanks to natural selection, the offspring with favorable characteristics are more likely to survive and reproduce.

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