Signup for our emails
New Mexico meadow jumping mouse Zapus hudsonius luteus
ESA status: endangered
The New Mexico meadow jumping mouse is a unique subspecies of meadow jumping mouse; it is a water-loving animal that lives only along the banks of southwestern streams. It is semi-aquatic, and its large back feet may assist it with swimming as well as jumping. Unlike other subspecies of meadow jumping mouse, it is never found in meadows or grasslands without suitable perennial water and riparian habitat. It is rarely found more than a few feet (1.8 m) from running water.
These small creatures are not called jumping mice for nothing; they can make leaps of up to three feet, ten times the length of their bodies. They are also unique because of the amount of sleep they need. New Mexico meadow jumping mice that live in the mountainous areas of their range may hibernate for 10 months out of the year. Valley jumping mice have longer active periods, but still sleep from early November to late April. Because they spend so much time in hibernation, the preparations they make for their long sleep are crucial to their overwinter survival. And that is part of the key to their water-loving nature – it is along the banks of streams that these mice can most easily and quickly find the rich food sources they need to fatten up for hibernation. They spend their nights foraging in territories that stretch for up to 300 feet along stream banks (sometimes overlapping the territories of other New Mexico meadow jumping mice), eating fruits, the seeds of grasses and forbs, insects, snails, slugs, and millipedes. Moist habitats provide the mouse with a cornucopia of options, as well as dense vegetation that hides them from predators and regulates the moisture and temperature of their environment.
These mice are naturally rare and scattered across isolated population centers, and no wonder; riparian areas make up less than 1 percent of the landmass in the Southwest. But these precious arteries of life are in decline, and the jumping mouse along with them. The mouse has been extirpated from 70 to 80 percent of its historic range, which extended from the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado into the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico and the White Mountains in Arizona. These days, they are found only in 5 isolated mountain ranges in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, and in the Rio Grande Valley. In all historical locations surveyed since 2000, populations have undergone large declines and in some cases may have completely disappeared. Overgrazing by livestock is the primary driver of this decline; cattle grazing, even with low numbers of cows, destroys sensitive streamside habitat through loss of vegetation, alteration of the vegetative community by selective grazing of certain species, soil compaction, and general destruction from trampling. A mouse in grazed habitat generally cannot collect enough food during its short active period to make it through the winter. During surveys in 2005 and 2006, every population of New Mexico meadow jumping mice was found in areas inaccessible to livestock.
In addition, the removal of beaver from the southwest has had terrible repercussions for the jumping mouse. Beaver dams create complex wetland habitats with saturated soils and dense vegetation, perfect habitat for the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse. But trapping nearly eliminated beaver from New Mexico during the 1890s. Despite their role as ecosystem engineers, beaver are often deemed a pest species and continue to be removed and persecuted by humans, further reducing potential jumping mouse habitat. In addition, off-road vehicle recreation, camping, fire and subsequent erosion, flooding, water diversion for agricultural and urban use, ongoing drought, and climate change all contribute to degradation of the mouse’s habitat, turning the situation from bad to worse. The mouse became a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act in December 2007, and was listed in June 2014.
- Significant Actions
- March 2008 - WildEarth Guardians requests that the U.S. Forest Service reduce livestock grazing in jumping mouse's range
- October 2008 - WildEarth Guardians submits petition to list the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse
- July 2010 - WildEarth Guardians files lawsuit challenging U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to list the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse
- May 2011- New Mexico meadow jumping mouse included in landmark settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- June 2013 - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to list the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse as “endangered”
- June 2013 - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes critical habitat designation for the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse
- June 2014 - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse as "endangered"
- July 11, 2014 - WildEarth Guardians warns the U.S. Forest Service that it will sue the federal agency to require greater protection of the streamside habitat of the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse
- Press Releases
- March 19, 2008 - "Rare New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse Needs More Grass"
- October 9, 2008 - "Group Launches 'Western Ark'"
- July 15, 2010 - "Safeguards Sought for Endangered Jumping Mouse"
- November 10, 2010 - "Federal Endangered Species Listing Program Still Lags"
- May 10, 2011- “Hope for Endangered Species Act Candidates”
- September 9, 2011 - “Federal Court Approves Historic Species Agreement”
- June 20, 2013 - “Rare New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse Proposed for Endangered Species Act Listing”
- June 10, 2014 - "Extremely Rare New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse Listed as Endangered"
- July 11, 2014 - "Advocates Say Streams Must be Protected to Recover Jumping Mouse"
- Species Factsheet
- Related Campaigns