pocket mouse

any of numerous burrowing rodents, esp. of the genus Perognathus, chiefly inhabiting arid regions of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, having fur-lined cheek pouches and a long tail.
[1880-85, Amer.]

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Any of about 30 species of nocturnal North American rodents constituting the genus Perognathus (family Heteromyidae), having fur-lined, external cheek pouches that open alongside the mouth.

Pocket mice are yellowish brown to dark gray and are 2.5–5 in. (6–13 cm) long, excluding a tail of about the same length. They are usually solitary and inhabit dry and desert regions. They carry food (mainly seeds) in their pouches and store it in their burrows. Spiny pocket mice (most in the genera Liomys and Heteromys; family Heteromyidae), found from Mexico through Central America, are gray, brown, or black nocturnal burrowers that inhabit wet, forested regions as well as dry country.

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rodent
Introduction

      any of 36 species of American rodents having fur-lined external cheek pouches that open alongside the mouth. The pouches are used for storing food, particularly seeds, as the animal forages. Like “true” mice and rats (family Muridae), pocket mice travel on all four limbs along the ground, as opposed to hopping like their relative, the kangaroo mouse. Pocket mice are nocturnal and usually solitary. They eat seeds, succulent plant parts, and nuts, carrying food (mainly seeds) in their cheek pouches to hoard in burrows. Most are active all year, even some of those living at northern latitudes. Others remain in burrows during winter or on hot days in summer; they may become torpid but do not hibernate (hibernation).

Natural history
      The nine species of silky pocket mice (genus Perognathus) are very small, weighing from 5 to 30 grams (0.2 to 1.1 ounces) and having a body length of 6 to 9 cm (2.4 to 3.5 inches) and hairy tails 5 to 10 cm long. Silky pocket mice have soft fur ranging from yellowish to gray on the upperparts and white to buff on the underparts; soles of the hind feet are furry, but in all other pocket mice the soles are hairless.

      The 15 species of coarse-haired pocket mice (genus Chaetodipus) are larger on average, weighing 15 to 47 grams and having a body length of 8 to 13 cm and hairy, tufted tails as long as or much longer than the body (up to 15 cm). Coarse-haired pocket mice are similar in colour to silky pocket mice, but the fur is harsh and the rump has spiny bristles. Silky and coarse-haired pocket mice range from western Canada and the United States into southern Mexico, where they inhabit open desert country.

      The five species of spiny pocket mice (genus Liomys) are found in extreme southern Texas, but they live mostly in Mexico southward to Panama in semiarid brushy and rocky habitats. These pocket mice weigh 34 to 50 grams and have a body length of 10 to 14 cm and long tails of up to 16 cm.

      The seven species of forest spiny pocket mice (genus Heteromys) are the largest, weighing from 37 to 85 grams and having 11- to 18-cm bodies and long scantily haired tails. Forest pocket mice range from southern Mexico to northern South America, where they live from sea level upward into mountains. All the spiny pocket mice have harsh fur made up of stiff, bristly hairs that may be gray, reddish brown, dark brown, or glossy black. In some species a rust-coloured strip separates upperparts and underparts.

Classification and paleontology
      Pocket mice are classified in the family Heteromyidae, meaning “different mouse,” or “other mouse,” in Greek. This family also includes kangaroo rats (kangaroo rat) and kangaroo mice (kangaroo mouse). Within Heteromyidae, the silky and coarse-haired pocket mice constitute the subfamily Perognathinae, and the spiny pocket mice constitute the subfamily Heteromyinae. Spiny pocket mice are more ratlike and probably bear a closer structural resemblance to the family's extinct fossil ancestors than do any other living members.

Subfamily Perognathinae
 24 in 2 genera.
      Genus Chaetodipus (coarse-haired pocket mice)
 15 species.

      Genus Perognathus (silky pocket mice)
 9 species.

Subfamily Heteromyinae
 12 species in 2 genera.
      Genus Heteromys (forest spiny pocket mice)
 7 species.

      Genus Liomys (spiny pocket mice)
 5 species.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pocket mouse — Pocket Pock et (p[o^]k [e^]t), n. [OE. poket, Prov. F. & OF. poquette, F. pochette, dim. fr. poque, pouque, F. poche; probably of Teutonic origin. See {Poke} a pocket, and cf. {Poach} to cook eggs, to plunder, and {Pouch}.] 1. A bag or pouch;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Pocket mouse — may refer to:* Perognathus sp. * Chaetodipus sp …   Wikipedia

  • pocket mouse — ☆ pocket mouse n. any of various small, nocturnal, long tailed mice (family Heteromyidae) with fur lined cheek pouches for carrying food to their burrows: found in W and SW North America …   English World dictionary

  • pocket mouse — noun any of various small nocturnal burrowing desert rodents with cheek pouches and long hind legs and tail • Hypernyms: ↑pocket rat • Hyponyms: ↑silky pocket mouse, ↑Perognathus flavus, ↑plains pocket mouse, ↑Perognathus flavescens, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • pocket mouse — pock′et mouse n. mam any burrowing rodent of the family Heteromyidae, esp. of the genus Perognathus, of arid regions of W North America, having fur lined cheek pouches and a long tail • Etymology: 1880–85, amer …   From formal English to slang

  • pocket mouse — noun Date: 1884 any of various nocturnal burrowing rodents (family Heteromyidae) that resemble mice, live in arid parts of western North America, and have long hind legs and tail and fur lined cheek pouches …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Rock pocket mouse — Conservation status Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Little Desert Pocket Mouse — Conservation status Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Narrow-skulled Pocket Mouse — Conservation status Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Bailey's Pocket Mouse — Conservation status Least Concern ( …   Wikipedia

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