Choctawhatchee Beach Mouse: Peromyscus polionotus allophrys
Genus/Species: Peromyscus polionotus
Subspecies: Peromyscus polionotus allophrys
Common Name: Choctawhatchee beach mouse
Federal Status: Endangered
FL Status: Federally-designated Endangered
FNAI Ranks: G5T1/S1 (Globally: Demonstrably Secure, Sub sp. Critically Imperiled/State: Critically Imperiled)
IUCN Status: Not ranked
The Choctawhatchee beach mouse is a small old-field mouse that can reach a length of up to 5.5 inches (14 centimeters). Its dorsal (back) side is a light brown color which extends to around the nostrils, while the belly is white. The tail is usually all white and can reach a length of two inches (5.1 centimeters) (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).
The diet of the Choctawhatchee beach mouse primarily consists of seeds and fruit of dune plants, and insects. Beach mice are nocturnal and disperse out of their burrows at night to forage.
Very little information is available about the life history of the Choctawhatchee beach mouse, so information about the old-field mouse species (Peromyscus polionotus) is generally accepted as the same. Breeding peaks during the winter months, but can occur year around if there is adequate food available. Beach mice are monogamous and will mate with only one partner at a time. The total gestation period for a beach mouse is 23 days, with the female giving birth to four pups per litter. Females are also capable of breeding 24-hours after giving birth (Bird et al. 2009). Pups are weaned 18 days after being born (NatureServe 2011). Beach mice reach sexual maturity at around 30 days of age (Foust 2002).
Habitat and Distribution
The Choctawhatchee beach mouse range is limited to Florida from Choctawhatchee Bay in Okaloosa County to St. Andrew Bay in Bay County. Populations on conservation lands are found in the sand dunes on Shell Island, Grayton Beach, and Topsail Hill (Florida Natural Areas Inventory 2001).
The main threat facing the Choctawhatchee beach mouse is the continued development along beaches. Development along beaches can cause destruction or degradation to sand dunes limiting areas of habitat for the beach mouse, and increasing fragmentation, leading to isolation of populations. Increased human traffic on sand dunes is also a threat for the beach mouse, as the increased traffic damages vegetation on dunes that the beach mice depend on for food and shelter. Hurricanes also pose a risk to the beach mouse as they can cause damage and destruction to their sand dune habitat with the accompanying intense winds and storm surge. Other threats include increased predation from feral and free-ranging cats, foxes, raccoons, and coyotes.
Conservation and Management
The Choctawhatchee beach mouse is protected as an Endangered species by the Federal Endangered Species Act and as a Federally-designated Endangered species by Florida’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule .
Other Informative Links
Animal Diversity Web
Florida Natural Areas Inventory
International Union for Conservation of Nature
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
University of Florida
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Printable version of this page
Bird, B. L., Branch, L. C., & Hostetler, M. E. (n.d.). Beach Mice. Retrieved June 2, 2011, from IFAS Extension: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw173
Florida Natural Areas Inventory. 2001. Field guide to the rare animals of Florida. http://www.fnai.org/FieldGuide/pdf/Peromyscus_polionotus_allophrys.PDF
Foust, D. 2002. "Peromyscus polionotus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed August 10, 2011 http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Peromyscus_polionotus.html .
NatureServe. 2011. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://www.natureserve.org/ . (Accessed: August 10, 2011 ).
Image Credit Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit