At one point, while walking along the boundary between a wooded upland area and the swamp that can be found along Quigley Creek, I saw something jump away from me. My first instinct was to think that it was a Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus). I was expecting to see Wood Frogs in this habitat.
After the animal's second jump, I could see it peeking out from under a fallen branch. It was definitely not a Wood Frog. This animal had fur!
|Woodland Jumping Mouse - note dark strip down back, orange sides, and long tail|
I believe this to be a Woodland Jumping Mouse (Napaeozapus insignis). It is hard to distinguish between this species and the similar Meadow Jumping Mouse without counting its teeth. I based my identification on its habitat (woods/swamp) and its tri-colored appearance with a dark strip down its back, orangish flanks, and pale belly. It lacks the white-tip on its tail that is (supposedly) characteristic of the species, but based on my readings this is not a reliable field mark. Most range maps show Mecosta County well out of its range, but the Michigan DNR has a map showing range this far south in the state.
I was only able to get two pictures of this mouse before it scurried under a log. Still it was an exciting find for me. This is the first time I have found any species of jumping mouse.