By Rueben Gay
Did you know the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse, Zapus hudsonius luteus (NMMJM) can jump up to ten times its body length? These fascinating creatures are not called jumping mice for nothing. They are capable of making leaps of up to three feet; an incredible ten times their body length.
The NMMJM is a very unique water-loving animal that lives along the south-western rivers and streams. What makes this mouse so unique is its large back feet, which aid in jumping from grass to grass and also swimming around riparian areas. The NMMJM is a semi-aquatic animal, but unlike the other subspecies of mead jumping mouse, it is only found in areas that have year-round water flow, and it is rarely found away from running water.
Another characteristic which makes them unique is the amount of sleep they need. For instance, the NMMJM found in the Sacramento Mountains may hibernate ten months of the year. These little mice forage along the banks and edge of streams to fatten up for their long hibernation period. Ultimately, perennial moist or wet habitats provide the mouse with an abundant food source and an ideal living environment. They forage in areas up to 300 feet in size, eating fruits, seeds, insects, snails, slugs, and millipedes.
The Sacramento Ranger District is currently gathering data on the NMMJM to study its population density, preferred habitat, and how it responds to the current drought conditions.