California deermouse

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California deermouse
California mouse 5 Peromyscus californicus.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Cricetidae
Subfamily: Neotominae
Genus: Peromyscus
P. californicus
Binomial name
Peromyscus californicus
(Gambel, 1848)

The California deermouse or California mouse (Peromyscus californicus) is a species of rodent in the subfamily Neotominae in the family Cricetidae. It is the only species in the Peromyscus californicus species group. It is found in northwestern Mexico and central to southern California. It is the largest Peromyscus species in the United States.[2][3]

While most rodents are polygamous, the California deermouse is monogamous and forms pair bonds,[4] making it a model organism for researchers studying the genetics and neurobiology of partner fidelity[5] and paternal care.


The California deermouse has very large ears, and its tail is longer than the head and body combined. Including the tail, which is about 117 to 156 mm (4.6 to 6.1 in) long, the mouse ranges in length from 220 to 285 mm (8.7 to 11.2 in).[6] The coat is overall orange, mixed with black and brown hairs. This dorsal colour shades to a creamy-white belly colour.[7] The manus and feet are white.[2][8][9] Adults are large enough that they can be confused with juvenile Neotoma fuscipes, a close relative in the subfamily Neotominae. The dental formula is 1003/1003.[10]


The California deermouse is semiarboreal, but tends to nest on the ground, under debris such as fallen logs, and they will also move into Neotoma fuscipes nests as seasonal residents.[11] Nests are insulated with coarse, dry grasses, weeds, and sticks, and fine grass is used as bedding in the center chamber.[12][13] The California mouse forms pair bonds and the males help raise the young.[4][13][14][15] A litter usually consists of only two pups, but a pair may produce as many as six litters in a year. Gestation ranges from 21 to 25 days. Weaning occurs when the offspring are five to six weeks of age.[13][16]

Map of Peromyscus californicus distribution in the state of California, United States


P. californicus is more strongly territorial than P. maniculatus, with both sexes defending the nest site. Males are also aggressive toward one another; their fighting techniques involve jumping, avoidance, and a characteristic mewing cry.[17] This male aggression often is a trade-off between parental care, for males that spend more time engaging in territorial aggression consequently spend less time providing food for offspring.[18] The mouse communicates with other members of its species via ultrasound. The manner in which a male and female communicate changes from a more aggressive style to a more affiliative style during the development of a pair bond, and the characteristics of their vocalizations can be used to predict the stability of the pair bond.[19] California mice are mostly active at night.[20]


The mouse's diet consists of shrub fruits, seeds, and flowers, such as of Rhus integrifolia, Lotus scoparius, and Salvia apiana.[21] They also consume grasses, forbs, fungi, and arthropods.[22]


Their main predators are weasels and barn owls.[23][24]


  1. ^ Álvarez-Castañeda, S.T.; Lacher, T. (2016). "Peromyscus californicus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T16654A22361553. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T16654A22361553.en. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b Grinnell, J & Orr, RT 1934 (1934). "Systematic review of the californicus group of the rodent genus Peromyscus". Journal of Mammalogy. 15 (3): 210–220. doi:10.2307/1373853. JSTOR 1373853.
  3. ^ Musser, G. G. and M. D. Carleton. (2005). Superfamily Muroidea. pp. 894–1531 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
  4. ^ a b CANTONI, DEBORA; BROWN, RICHARD E (1997). "Paternal investment and reproductive success in the California mouse,Peromyscus californicus". Animal Behaviour. 54 (2): 377–386. doi:10.1006/anbe.1996.0583. PMID 9268470. S2CID 7797715.
  5. ^ Crossland, J.; Lewandowski, A. (2006). "Peromyscus – A fascinating laboratory animal model" (PDF). Techtalk. 11: 1–2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
  6. ^ Kalcounis-Rüppell, Matina C.; Millar, John S. (2002). "Partitioning of Space, Food, and Time by Syntopic Peromyscus Boylii and P. Californicus". Journal of Mammalogy. 83 (2): 614–625. doi:10.1644/1545-1542(2002)083<0614:POSFAT>2.0.CO;2. S2CID 62900746.
  7. ^ Meserve, Peter L. (1976). "Food Relationships of a Rodent Fauna in a California Coastal Sage Scrub Community". Journal of Mammalogy. 57 (2): 300–319. doi:10.2307/1379690. ISSN 0022-2372. JSTOR 1379690.
  8. ^ Osgood, WH (1908). "Revision of the mice of the American genus Peromyscus". North American Fauna. 28: 1–285. doi:10.3996/nafa.28.0001.
  9. ^ Allen, JA (1896). "On mammals from the Santa Cruz Mountains, California". Bull. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist. 8: 263–270. hdl:2246/752.
  10. ^ Merritt, Joseph F. (1978-01-06). "Peromyscus californicus". Mammalian Species (85): 1–6. doi:10.2307/3503909. ISSN 0076-3519. JSTOR 3503909.
  11. ^ M'Closkey, Robert T. (1976-07-01). "Community Structure in Sympatric Rodents". Ecology. 57 (4): 728–739. doi:10.2307/1936186. ISSN 1939-9170. JSTOR 1936186.
  12. ^ Clark, FH (1936). "Geotropic behavior on a sloping plane of arboreal and non-arboreal races of mice of the genus Peromyscus". Journal of Mammalogy. 17 (1): 44–47. doi:10.2307/1374549. JSTOR 1374549.
  13. ^ a b c McCabe, TT and BD Blanchard. 1950. Three Species of Peromyscus. Rood Associates, Santa Barbara, California.
  14. ^ Dudley, D. 1973. [ Paternal behavior in the California mouse] (P. californicus) (Thesis) University of California.
  15. ^ Eisenberg, JF (1962). "Studies on the behavior of Peromyscus maniculatus gambelii and Peromyscus californicus parasiticus". Behaviour. 19 (3): 177–207. doi:10.1163/156853962X00014.
  16. ^ Svihla, A (1932). "A comparative life history study of the mice of the genus Peromyscus" (PDF). Misc. Publ. Mus. Zool. Univ. Michigan. 24: 1–39.
  17. ^ Eisenberg, JF (1963). "The intraspecific social behavior of some Cricetine rodents of the genus Peromyscus". American Midland Naturalist. 69 (1): 240–246. doi:10.2307/2422858. JSTOR 2422858.
  18. ^ Trainor, Brian C.; Marler, Catherine A. (2001). "Testosterone, Paternal Behavior, and Aggression in the Monogamous California Mouse (Peromyscus californicus)". Hormones and Behavior. 40 (1): 32–42. doi:10.1006/hbeh.2001.1652. PMID 11467882. S2CID 1409147.
  19. ^ Pultorak, J. D.; Alger, S. J.; Loria, S. O.; Johnson, A. M.; Marler, C. A. (2018). "Changes in Behavior and Ultrasonic Vocalizations During Pair Bonding and in Response to an Infidelity Challenge in Monogamous California Mice". Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 6. doi:10.3389/fevo.2018.00125.
  20. ^ Marten, GG (1973). "Time patterns of Peromyscus activity and their correlations with weather". Journal of Mammalogy. 54 (1): 169–188. doi:10.2307/1378878. JSTOR 1378878.
  21. ^ Meserve, PL (1972) Resource and habitat utilization by rodents of the coastal sage scrub community (Thesis) University of California, Irvine.
  22. ^ Merritt, JF (1974). "Factors influencing the local distribution of Peromyscus californicus in northern California". Journal of Mammalogy. 55 (1): 102–114. doi:10.2307/1379260. JSTOR 1379260.
  23. ^ Vestal, EH (1937). "Activities of a weasel at a woodrat colony". Journal of Mammalogy. 18 (3): 364. doi:10.1093/jmammal/18.3.364.
  24. ^ Von Bloeker, JC (1937). "Mammal remains from detritus of raptorial birds in California". Journal of Mammalogy. 18 (3): 360–361. doi:10.1093/jmammal/18.3.360.