Meadow Jumping Mouse - Behavior


The most interesting characteristic of the meadow jumping mouse is its saltatorial powers. Quimby states that there is large disagreement, dating back to 1899, as to how high the jumping mouse can actually jump. In 1899 Preble documented that the meadow jumping mouse can jump six to eight feet when disturbed, and in some instances it may be able to jump further. Then in 1909 Seton stated that it can creep through the grass without hopping, and then suddenly can leap out a distance of ten to twelve feet. Later in 1926 Bailey says that there are no standards as to how long or far Z. hudsonius can leap. He states that it is capable of long leaps, short hops, and also it can creep through the grass on all fours without having to leap at all and without any difficulty at all. Finally in 1935, Townsend was able to witness a leap of two feet, and many more studies afterwards and to the date have concluded that the meadow jumping mouse is capable of jumping anywhere from two to three feet depending on the situation. Under less than normal situations the jumping mouse has been measured to jump a few inches longer than three feet, again this was during a study, and not at all under normal conditions. What is clear is that the meadow jumping mouse is capable of leaping a good sized distance compared to its body size. The initial leap of the jumping mouse when startled from a squatting position is long; the following hops are shorter but much more rapid. When not alarmed the normal locomotion method is little hops of one to six inches.

The meadow jumping mouse is a decent swimmer, it usually will jump in when retreating from danger, or it was noticed as well to jump in when being set free. Its method of aquatic locomotion is very similar to its locomotion on land. At first it pushes off with long thrusts using only its hind feet simultaneously, mimicking its long jumps on land. Afterwards, the jumping is followed by movement of all four limbs, in an almost doggy-paddle-like form, with its head held high above the water. The meadow jumping mouse is also capable of diving, and a maximum distance of four feet was recorded.

The jumping mouse is an excellent digger; it usually burrows in a depression, and begins to dig horizontally with its front limbs, once inside it also uses its powerful hind feet to throw out the loose soil. The meadow jumping mouse is primarily nocturnal, but has been captured in the late evening of a cloudy moist day. This could be because they are coming out to feed a bit earlier because of the conditions, but for the most part all activities occur during the night. The jumping mouse is a docile creature when handled; amongst its kind it is also pretty calm. There is very little territorial strife amongst them, but by no means are they social creatures. They are solitary animals, rarely if ever seen in pairs, but to contrast that, they are not aggressive towards each other either.

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