Pocket Mouse

Pocket Mouse, small, jumping rodent of the North American family Heteromyidae.

Pocket Mouse, small, jumping rodent of the North American family Heteromyidae. The 75 species of Heteromyidae are adapted to desert and semidesert environments. Three live in Canada: olive-backed and Great Basin pocket mice (Perognathus fasciatus, P. parvus respectively) and Ord's kangaroo rat. They occur in the dry western plains and the basin between the Rocky Mountains and the BC coastal range.


Pocket mice are greyish above with white underparts. Pocket mice have large hind limbs and smaller front limbs, all 4 used in jumping. The tail, almost as long as the head and body together, serves as a prop, particularly when the animal feeds in its characteristic sitting position. Food is carried to the burrow in external, fur-lined cheek "pockets."

Stored food enables pocket mice to survive winter, alternating between dormant and feeding periods. Insects and plants complement the primarily granivorous diet. Pocket mice can survive long periods without water and are nocturnal. Mating occurs in April; the gestation period is 3-4 weeks; 2 litters are produced, each averaging 4-5 young.

Relationship with Humans

The relatively scarce olive-backed pocket mouse measures 10-14 cm. Except for killing weeds, it has little economic value. The much larger and more common Great Basin pocket mouse may cause damage to cereal crops.

Interested in wildlife?

External Links

Little Brown Bat

Help students and educators this school year!

The Canadian Encyclopedia is a project of Historica Canada, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization devoted to teaching Canadians more about our shared country. Last school year, over 13 million people used The Canadian Encyclopedia as a trusted resource. Nearly 5 million of those users were students and teachers. Please donate today to help even more Canadians access free, impartial, fact-checked, regularly updated information about Canada’s history and culture in both official languages. All donations above $3 will receive a tax receipt.