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  The Mammals of Texas - Online Edition

Golden Mouse
Order Rodentia : Family Muridae : Ochrotomys nuttalli (Harlan)

Golden Mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli).  Photo by John L. Tveten, courtesy of Texas A&M University Press.Description. A medium-sized, golden-colored (rich ochraceous tawny), white-footed mouse with soft, thick pelage; larger than Reithrodontomys fulvescens and without grooves on upper incisors; feet white; underparts pale cinnamon buff; tail brownish, darker above than below. External measurements average: total length, 176 mm; tail, 78 mm; hind foot, 19 mm. Weight, 15-25 g.

Species distribution mapDistribution in Texas. Woodlands of extreme eastern Texas.

Habits. These small, arboreal mice are adapted to, and occur chiefly in, forested areas. Tangles of trees, vines, and brush seem to be a preferred habitat. Specimens have been trapped on dark, wooded slopes where the mice lived in nests in tangles of grapevines; others were taken in an old pasture overgrown with blackberry, wild grape and a few small trees. Near Bowie, a pair of mice was taken in a hollow, fallen tree in river bottom lands, while near Lufkin, one specimen was trapped in a pile of brush in hammock territory near the edge of the Angelina River bottom.

Their nests are constructed of grasses, Spanish moss, or leaves; lined with shredded plant fibers, or occasionally feathers; and vary in size from the small brood nest about the size of a baseball to the large "communal" nests as big as 20 by 30 cm that may house a half-dozen or more mice. One such nest housed eight mice, all males. Usually the nests are placed in trees or bushes from a few centimeters to 3 m above the ground; occasionally they are on the ground under some protective cover such as a log, a stump, a pile of brush, or they may be in cavities in standing trees.

Invertebrates make up about 50% of their diet. They also eat a variety of seeds including sumac, wild cherry, dogwood, greenbriar, poison ivy, and blackberry.

The breeding season begins in September and extends through winter and spring, with little reproductive activity during summer. The peak breeding season is in winter. Adult females may produce up to three litters annually. The young, ranging in number from two to five (average, three), are born following a gestation period of 25-30 days.

Newborn golden mice weigh about 2.7 g and are reddish with relatively smooth skin. The eyes and ears are closed at birth, but open between 11 and 14 days of age. Weaning is completed at 3 weeks and adult size is attained between the eighth and tenth weeks. The young mice are sexually mature 1-2 months after birth.

Photo credit: John L. Tveten, courtesy of Texas A&M University Press.