Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Jump Around! Jump Around!

One last photo to share from my recent trip to the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy's Quigley Creek Natural Area in Mecosta County. 

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.

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