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Photo Credit: Angelina Trombley
Scientific Name: Ochrotomys nuttalli
Description: The golden mouse is a medium sized (5 – 8 inches long), tawny or golden colored mouse, with the underside of the body’s fur ranging from a creamy, white color to a cinnamon-orange color. They are a very docile animal that use their prehensile tail to grasp onto a tree limb or vine while traveling or feeding.
Distribution: This small mouse is found in the southeastern United States ranging from the Ohio River Valley, to the Mississippi River Valley and down to east Texas, and ranging east down through Florida.
Habitat: They are very diverse in their habitat selection, including forests, swamps, scrublands and brushlands, but generally are found around some type of brush, vines, and trees. They typically build nests in vines, Spanish moss, and trees from 2 to 25 feet off the ground. Their nests are made up of leaves, shredded bark, and grasses with a soft inner area typically made out of milkweed, feathers, fur, or cotton. The golden mouse will either build its own nest from scratch or remodel an old bird’s nest for its own use. They occasionally build a nest on the ground under a log or other overhead structure. Ground nests can be damaged if it floods or the ground is too wet, causing the mouse to relocate to the trees. However, ground nests can also be beneficial in that they are much less labor intensive to build, they can be more easily hidden, and the mouse has a better opportunity of escaping its predator on the ground.
Feeding Habits: Golden mice typically eat seeds of sumac, honeysuckle, cherry, dogwood, and greenbrier vines. In addition to seeds and vines, they also eat small insects.
Life History and Ecology: Golden mice are a nocturnal and social creature. There have been as many as eight individuals observed in a single nest. They are active in all seasons and typically breed from mid-March to early October with peaks in the spring and fall.
· Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2012. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed at http://animaldiversity.org.
Author: Rick Garrett, Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, December 2011