Pocket Mice Arrive

A Pacific pocket mouse explores a tube in the new facility.

They’re here! On July 20, we transferred the first critically endangered pocket mice to the new Pacific Pocket Mouse Conservation Breeding Facility, located in an off-exhibit area at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The first group of 10 was taken in June from the Dana Point Headlands and had been in quarantine for 30 days in the Safari Park’s Harter Veterinary Medical Center.

Our new Pacific Pocket Mouse Conservation Breeding Facility features “social” cages.

They are doing quite well so far. While in quarantine, all of the 10 gained weight and looked bright eyed. On Friday, after being transferred to their new cages, these Dana Point animals were extremely active, sand bathing and getting to know their new neighbors by standing right against the divider to the adjacent cage and digging.

We have them housed in what I call “social cages,” which are multiple individual mouse cages in one larger housing (see picture below). There are dividers that are clear and slotted to allow the mice to be able to see and smell each other. We house them in this way because they are solitary in the wild and are aggressive with each other unless they are breeding, but this socialization reduces aggression and keeps females reproductive.

The field crew finishes trapping PPM from the Dana Point Headlands (left to right: the author, Maryke Swartz, and Rachel Chock. Not pictured: Lee Ann Caranza, Center for Natural Lands Management reserve manager.)

The 10 founders from the Santa Margarita population were in quarantine at our veterinary center and were transferred to the pocket mouse facility on August 3. Meanwhile, Maryke and Rachel are out in the field each night trying to trap founders from the last extant population in San Mateo South.

Debra Shier is the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research Brown Endowed Scientist. Read her previous post, Bringing in the Pacific Pocket Mouse.

2 Responses to Pocket Mice Arrive

  1. Are they also breeding Laotian rock rats?

    Moderator’s note: No.

  2. They look a whole lot like gerbils. Are they distant cousins or in the same genus?