Alabama Beach Mouse
Alabama Beach Mouse
Peromyscus polionotus ammobates
|Listed||June 6, 1985|
|Description||A small mouse.|
|Habitat||Sparsely vegetated coastal dunes.|
|Food||Seeds and insects.|
|Reproduction||Gives birth to several generations each year of naked, helpless young, which are raised by the female.|
|Threats||Habitat loss and predation by cats and foxes.|
The Alabama beach mouse has a body length of 2.7-3.4 in (68-88 mm), and a tail that adds another 1.6-2.3 in (42-60 mm). Its back is colored pale gray, with an indistinct mid-dorsal stripe. The tail is white with an incomplete dorsal stripe. The sides and belly are white.
The Alabama beach mouse probably feeds on grass seeds, roots, stems, and insects. It digs tunnel systems and living chambers within the root network of dune vegetation. It gives birth to several generations each year of naked, helpless young, which are raised by the female. Breeding may occur at any time of the year, but peaks during the fall and winter. The litter size ranges from two to seven. Beach mice are monogamous and remain in the same home range until the death of either mate. The average life-span is 180 days. Females reach sexual maturity at six weeks of age.
The Alabama beach mouse inhabits sparsely vegetated, but mature, coastal sand dunes. It prefers areas with varied topography, and high densities of crab burrows as escape cover.
The Alabama beach mouse is only known from the Fort Morgan Peninsula to the Gulf State Park of coastal Alabama.
The Alabama beach mouse is threatened by beach development that decreases the extent and quality of its natural habitat, including residential and commercial developments, the construction of roads, and recreational use of the land. Because of its small abundance and few populations, it is also threatened by extreme events of weather, such as hurricanes. Non-native house cats (Felis catus ) are thought to be a major predator, as are native red foxes (Vulpes vulpes ). Its present range includes only about 22 mi (35 km) of coastline, and there may be fewer than one hundred individuals surviving.
Conservation and Recovery
Some of the habitat of the Alabama beach mouse is conserved within the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and in state lands such as the Gulf State Park. However, these areas are used intensively for recreation, and much of the beach habitat has been badly damaged by hurricanes. Other habitat is privately owned, and is subject to degradation. Even though the Alabama beach mouse is critically endangered, permits have been given allowing the damage of some of its habitat on private land. Conservation of the endangered mouse requires much stronger control over development activities in its habitat, and over the use of all-terrain vehicles and other degrading recreational activities. It may also be necessary to control the abundance of some of its predators, including domestic cats and red foxes. Efforts should be undertaken to reintroduce the endangered mouse into areas of suitable habitat from which it has been extirpated.
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200
Atlanta, Georgia 30345
Conservation Management Institute. 14 March 1996."Alabama Beach Mouse." Virginia Tech Endangered Species Information System. (http://fwie.fw.vt.edu/WWW/esis/lists/e054011.html). Date Accessed: July 6, 2000.
Public Interest Research Groups. 1999. "Alabama Beach Mouse." Public Interest Research Groups: Endangered Species. (http://www.pirg.org/enviro/esa/wildlife/mouse.html). Date Accessed: July 6, 2000.
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1985. "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Determination of Endangered Status and Critical Habitat for Three Beach Mice." Federal Register 50 (109): 23872-23889.