Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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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

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.


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