The breeding season for our Pacific pocket mice is coming to a close. This is a bittersweet realization. No more late nights, but no more new pups. When breeding endangered species, it is incredibly important to understand the reproductive limitations, such as short breeding seasons, or male/female reproductive cycles. However, this information is not always known, as with the Pacific pocket mouse. Since this is the first time this subspecies has been bred in captivity, a lot of the information needs to be uncovered.
We had a successful summer, to say the least, at our off-exhibit pocket mouse breeding facility. Thus far a total of four litters have been born into managed care, with 11 new individuals added to the wild-caught population. We have a fifth litter expected at the end of this week. A sixth female was paired recently, but it’s too early to tell whether breeding was successful and she will have pups.
We didn’t know if we would even have a single pup born, so 11+ is pretty darn exciting! Little by little, we are starting to unravel the mysteries of the Pacific pocket mouse. Next breeding season, we’ll be welcoming even more new babies.
Amaranta Kozuch is a senior research technician at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read her previous post, Pocket Mouse Night Life.