Rock pocket mouse

Rock Pocket Mouse

Rock pocket mouse

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The rock pocket mouse, C. intermedius, is one of 19 species of pocket mice in the genus Chaetodipus. (It is sometimes grouped in the genus Perognathus.)

Found mainly in rocky outcrops in the deserts of the southwestern United States and Mexico, the rock pocket mouse is medium-sized (length ~18 cm, weight ~12–18g) and nocturnal. It eats mainly plant seeds and makes small burrows in soil close to or under rocks to evade owls, its main predator. The breeding season spans a few months, starting in February or March, and the litter size is typically between three and six. As with most pocket mice, the tail is longer than the body (~10 cm).

Historically, rock pocket mice have been subdivided into as many as ten subspecies (Benson 1933; Dice and Blossom 1937) based on geographical distribution and coat colour. Most rock pocket mouse populations have light, tawny fur consistent with the colour of the desert rocks on which they live. However, darker coloured rock pocket mice are found living amid black, basaltic rock formations.

In 2003, scientists sampled DNA from both light- and dark-coloured rock pocket mice from areas in Pinacate Peaks, Mexico and New Mexico, USA. In the Pinacate mice, they discovered a perfect association between different versions of the Melanocortin-1 receptor (Mc1r) gene and coat colour . Subsequent studies demonstrated that there is strong selective pressure maintaining Mc1r allele and coat...
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