Rock Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus intermedius)


Rock Pocket Mouse on rocks
THP-Creative / Envato

The Rock pocket mouse, scientifically known as Chaetodipus intermedius, is a medium-sized mammal belonging to the genus Chaetodipus. This species is characterized by its distinctive physical attributes and remarkable adaptations to its environment. The Rock pocket mouse possesses a unique pelage with rather harsh fur, featuring weak spines on its rump. It exhibits a slender build and a notably long tail, which contributes to its agility and balance in its rocky habitat.


Closeup of Rock Pocket Mouse
wirestock / Envato

This species is easily distinguishable by its coarse fur and the presence of weak spines on its rump, setting it apart from other pocket mice species. The Rock pocket mouse typically ranges from 157 to 188mm in total length, with a tail length of 84 to 112mm. Its coloration varies, with individuals displaying shades of light to dark, providing effective camouflage in their rocky surroundings.


Tiny Rock Pocket Mouse
wirestock / Envato

The Rock pocket mouse is primarily found in the southwestern regions of the United States, including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. Its distribution also extends into northern Mexico. This species exhibits a preference for arid and semi-arid environments, thriving in rocky outcrops, canyons, and desert scrublands. Notably, the Rock pocket mouse has adapted to diverse microhabitats within its range, showcasing its resilience in varied ecological settings.

Habitat Preferences

The Rock pocket mouse is well-adapted to xeric ecosystems, where it inhabits rocky terrains and arid landscapes. Its ability to navigate and forage in rocky habitats is facilitated by its long tail, enhancing balance and agility. These environments provide the necessary cover and shelter for the Rock pocket mouse, enabling it to evade predators and regulate body temperature in the extreme desert climate. The species’ survival is intricately linked to the availability of suitable rocky habitats and sparse vegetation, which offer both refuge and sustenance.

In conclusion, the Rock pocket mouse, with its unique adaptations and distribution, exemplifies the remarkable resilience of wildlife in arid environments. Understanding and conserving the habitats essential to this species are fundamental in ensuring the preservation of its biodiversity and ecological significance.

Facts About Rock pocket mouse

  1. The rock pocket mouse (Chaetodipus intermedius) is found in desert habitats and is particularly associated with rocky areas (Animal Diversity Web).
  2. This species exhibits weak rump spines and has coarse fur, growing to be approximately 18 centimeters in length (iNaturalist).
  3. Rock pocket mice rely on saltation, a form of locomotion involving hopping or leaping, to move through their environment (Encyclopedia of Life).
  4. The average home range size for rock pocket mice is approximately 400 meters (Animal Diversity Web).
  5. Chaetodipus intermedius is one of 19 species of pocket mice in the genus Chaetodipus and is sometimes grouped in the genus Perognathus (Wikipedia).
  6. This species provides an excellent system to study geographic variation in phenotype within a single species, making it valuable for research on local adaptation (Nature).
  7. The genetic basis of adaptive melanism in pocket mice, including the rock pocket mouse, has been studied, making it a useful system for genetics research (NCBI).
  8. Rock pocket mice are native to the Nearctic region and are part of the rodent family Heteromyidae (Encyclopedia of Life).
  9. At White Sands National Park, the rock pocket mouse is one of the species found in the area, highlighting its presence in specific regions (National Park Service).
  10. The rock pocket mouse is known for its ability to adapt to its rocky desert habitat, making it an intriguing subject for ecological and evolutionary studies.

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