Pseudomys novaehollandiaeNew Holland mouse

Geographic Range

Only found in coastal south-eastern Australia. Wilson's Promontory, Providence Ponds, near Loch Sport, and Angelsea.

Habitat

Lives in areas with soft, deep soil for burrowing. Mostly heathlands, sand dunes, open forest, and woodlands. Areas must contain a fair amount of vegetation to support their food needs.

Physical Description

Easily confused with the house mouse. However, New Holland mice are slightly larger and heavier. Their fur is a dark grey color. The tail is 10-15% longer than the rest of the body with a dusky-grey color on top and white on the bottom. Feet are also white. New Holland mice have fairly large eyes.

Reproduction

Most young are born between August and January, but sometimes breeding extends into Autumn. This breeding pattern is related to food abundance which fluctuates with rainfall patterns. Females in their first year of reproduction can produce one litter per season. Second year females can produce up to three or four litters. Litter size is generally one to six young, the average being 4.6 young. Births take place during the day in the mother's nest. The lactation period is three to four weeks. It takes thirteen weeks for females to reach sexual maturity, while it takes males twenty weeks. Females may mature earlier if population density is low.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual

Behavior

New Holland mice are nocturnal and terrestrial rodents. For refuge, they burrow deep in sand and soft soils.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Diet consists mostly of plant seeds from various species(particularly legumes). However, New Holland mice also eat leaves and flowers, fungi, and some invertebrates.

Conservation Status

Listed as a threatened species in the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. Under threat initially due to habitat loss and alteration caused by clearing. More recently, inappropriate prescribed fire frequencies have created unsuitable habitat for New Holland mice. Introduced predators such as red fox, domestic cat, and domestic dog are important causes of mortality. Conservation efforts are being made by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment in Australia, Deakin University, and the Melbourne Zoo. Efforts include formation of a state-wide recovery team, habitat evaluation and protection, genetic research, and surveying/monitoring of populations.

Contributors

Mark Irwin (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Glossary

Australian

Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5? N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

March 1998. "Threatened Species-New Holland Mouse" (On-line). Accessed November 16, 1999 at http://www.dce.vic.gov.au/plntanml/native/threaten/mouse.

Pye, T., 1991. The New Holland Mouse in Tasmania; a field study. Wildlife Research, 18: 521-531.