Kangaroo Mice and Deer
Nature Bulletin No. 53 February 16, 1946
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Clayton F. Smith, President
Roberts Mann, Superintendent of Conservation
KANGAROO MICE AND DEER
The kangaroo mouse, or jumping mouse, is not common here and is
rarely seen. It has a very long slender tapering tail, tiny ears, short
forelegs, and greatly elongated hind legs which enable it to travel in
long leaps. The underparts and feet are white; the upperparts yellow-
brown, with a dark stripe down the back.
The kangaroo mouse lives in open fields, as does the vole (or meadow
mouse), but not in low, moist ground. They have the same enemies and
about the same food habits. Neither sings.
The deer mouse, or white-footed mouse, differs from the vole in having
a hairy tail as long as its body, large "bug" eyes, large ears, dark brown
upperparts, with white underparts and feet. Further, it is strictly
nocturnal, frequently nests in shrubs and trees, and eats dry vegetable
food such as seeds, grains and small nuts; whereas the vole prefers
green food. Therefore, deer mice are not such an economic problem.
They are not 80 prolific. Being nocturnal, they have fewer enemies.
Some sub-species live in open country but others nest in fallen logs,
rock piles, or in shrubs and low trees where they may live in old bird
nests or build a small ball of leaves. They are gentle, tame quickly, and
make good pets. Rarely, one may be found that will not only squeak,
but can "sing" in a fine high-pitched trill, higher and more staccato than
that of a canary.
One of our naturalists caught a deer mouse the other day, one of a pair
with a nest beneath the sloping door covering the outside entrance to
the basement of his home. He stroked it and it was quiet. As an
experiment, he tossed it onto the snow In front of his cocker spaniel.
The dog, trained to retrieve birds, tossed it in the air. The mouse
dropped back on the snow unhurt. Instead of running, it reared up on its
hind legs, bared its teeth, and made rapid boxing motions with its front
paws at the barking dog.
MOUSE FIGHTS DOG!
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Update: June 2012