Friday, November 5, 2010

{NYC Encounter} The White-Footed Mouse

Look what I nearly stepped on while walking down 56th street and Columbus Ave.  

 White-footed Mouse - Peromyscus leucopus

Incredible, right? I can hear many of you asking yourself what is so incredible about seeing a mouse in New York City. Apart from the fact that for once I managed to take a picture of a Nature Sighting without it being dead or sessile by design. You see, this mouse is special, this isn't your standard city mouse, this, I dare say, is a country mouse. 
"White-footed mice live in wooded, brushy areas or open areas next to woods, such as marshes. They are active year-round, but mostly come out at night.White-footed Mice are good swimmers and excellent climbers. They often climb shrubs and trees looking for food. Their tails give them good balance. Mice build nests in burrows, stumps, brush piles, buildings, hollow trees, old birds' nests, old squirrels' nests and under logs. Nests are made with grasses, leaves, hair, feathers, milkweed silk, shredded bark, moss, and cloth. " via

The habitat description does not fit the location I saw this mouse. So how do I know that I saw a White-footed Mouse instead of a House Mouse (Mus musculus)? What struck me first was it's long tail, long white hind feet, and white belly. Not your average House Mouse. Why would I even consider this a possibility? I just read a book call Red-Tails in Love by Marie Winn. In this book, which I will review by next week, Mrs Winn finds an owl pellet in central park and brings it to the Natural History Museum to have the bones identified. (An owl pellet is what an owl regurgitates after it has swallowed its meal whole and digested the good stuff. You can find bones, hairs, exoskeletons, feathers and/or beaks depending on what it has eaten.) This particular pellet contained the skeleton of a White-footed Mouse. So they are here, you just have to look carefully. Just as you can see many different sparrows amongst the hoards of House Sparrows, rats and mice also hold their fair share of wonder.

Take care!

1. Winn, Marie. Red-tails in Love: a Wildlife Drama in Central Park. New York: Random House, 1998 


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