Pacific pocket mouse, Perognathus longimembris pacificus, is a federally endangered species of rodent in the United States. It is one of the smallest and lightest animal of the rodent family; measuring 4.25 to 5.2 inches in length, 0.625 inches in height, and 0.25 to 0.33 oz in weight. Its whole body is covered with silky fur. Its dorsal side is usually pinkish and brown while the ventral side is usually white. The dorsal color is an adaptation to predation. It mimics the color of the ground to prevent being seen by predators such as cats and foxes. Pacific pocket mouse feeds on seeds, small insects, and vegetation. It creates underground burrows as shelters in fine-grain or sandy areas close to the Pacific Ocean. It produces one litter a year sizing from about 2 to 8 pups.
Causes of Endangerment of Pacific Pocket Mouse
The Pacific pocket mice are endangered species because only few hundreds of them are surviving. A rough estimate of their population shows that there are only 300 (more or less) of them living in this planet. Sadly, their small population is continuously threatened by the destruction, modification, degradation, and fragmentation of their habitat. Roads, railroads, airports, and other structures destroy the home of these little rodents. Additional threat to Pacific pocket mouse is the conversion of their habitat into urban, agricultural, recreational, and residential areas. Environmental pollution, increased predation, and inadequate government protection are other threats to Pacific pocket mouse.
Conservation Efforts for Pacific Pocket Mouse
The Pacific pocket mouse was believed to be extinct for nearly 20 years until a small population was discovered in 1993. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service immediately put Pacific pocket mouse to its emergency listings of endangered species. In 1994, the mouse was granted full protection by the power of Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the government agency responsible in protecting the pocket mouse. The agency created a recovery plan for the pocket mouse in 1997 with the ultimate goal of removing the “endangered” status of the mouse by the year 2023.
Pacific pocket mouse conservation efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service include stabilization of current population, search for new populations, and establishment of additional populations by reintroducing captive-bred pocket mice in the wild. The agency spearheads the relocation of pocket mice populations that are threatened by development. The agency is also coordinating to other government agencies in creating reserved and protected habitat range for Pacific pocket mice. Nongovernmental and environmental organizations also help in protecting Pacific pocket mouse to save it in the verge of extinction.
Ecological Importance of Pacific Pocket Mouse
Every organism in the planet has an ecological importance. The Pacific pocket mouse is small indeed but it plays a big role in the environment. It helps in the dispersion of seeds – an ecological process that maintains plant diversity. Its feces fertilize the soil which will benefit the plants. It helps aerate the soil by creating extensive underground burrows. It controls the population of certain insect species by feeding on them.[ad#afterpost]
References and Further Reading