English Names: southern grasshopper mouse
Scientific Name: Onychomys torridus
Spanish Names: ratón-saltamontes sureño
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Southern grasshopper mouse (Onychomys torridus)
The southern grasshopper mouse is a medium sized gray-brown- to cinnamon-colored mouse with a short, white-tipped tail.
The southern grasshopper mouse lives in grassland and desertscrub communities in southern and western Arizona.
• Diet: Grasshopper mice are predators, hunting insects, beetles, grasshoppers, and scorpions, but they also hunt and kill other mice.
• Behavior: The grasshopper mouse is an efficient predator, killing other mice with a bite to the back of the neck, and biting the stingers off scorpions before consuming them. Pinacate beetles emit a toxic spray from their rear ends, deterring most predators, but grasshopper mice catch them and shove the defensive ends of the beetles into the sand, then bite off the good parts, leaving beetle bottoms embedded in the sand.
Grasshopper mice not only hunt prey, they also have lifestyles reminiscent of canid hunters. They form family packs with both parents feeding and caring for the young and teaching them how to hunt. They defend a territory, but will range widely in search of food.
The grasshopper mouse even vocalizes like a tiny wolf, standing on its hind legs, throwing back its head and howling. These eerie, high pitched calls may be used to communicate with other family members.
Muridae: Mice & Rats
The rats and mice are among the most sucessful mammal groups on Earth. They are adaptable creatures that can inhabit almost any environment. The Sonoran Desert, with its great diversity of habitats, is blessed with an abundance and a wide variety of these fascinating creatures. Here we have predatory grasshopper mice that hunt and kill other mice, and packrat builders that construct houses of sticks and debris up to 2 or 3 feet (1 m) high and 8 feet (2.4 m) wide. The desert woodrat lives in the most xeric (arid or dry) environments, while Merriam's mouse fills a niche in mesquite bosques.
These little rodents are at the bottom of the vertebrate food chain, preyed upon by everything from coyotes and snakes to hawks and bobcats. In response, they breed prolifically, with some species, like the cotton rats, able to produce 8 to 10 litters a year. Populations still fluctuate with drought and predation, but the mice and rats are able to respond to good conditions by rapidly rebuilding their numbers.
All rodents, including the mice and rats, are gnawers. Their teeth are ever-growing and must be kept trimmed down by constant gnawing. A layer of hard orange enamel covers the front surface of the teeth. The rest of the tooth is softer and wears down quicker than the enamel as the rodent gnaws, thus creating a chisel-like shape to the front teeth that is unique to the rodent family.