• Lower Cliff Dwelling

    Tonto

    National Monument Arizona

Cactus Mouse

cactus mouse

Cactus Mouse

NPS Photo

Cactus Mouse
Peromyscus eremicus

Body length: 3 1/5 - 3 3/5"
Diet: Seeds, insects, and possibly green vegetation

To most people, all mice and rats look alike. Still, if we had to identify the most mouse-like of Tonto's small mammals, it would have to be the cactus mouse, with its Mickey Mouse ears and scampering habits.

The cactus mouse is one species of a closely related group of common mice often referred to as "deer mice". All are potential carriers of a virus known as Hantavirus, which can be deadly to humans but does not appear to harm the mice themselves. Outbreaks of Hantavirus in Arizona and New Mexico may be related to periodic population explosions of mice. Under ideal conditions, which seem to coincide with extremely wet winters, female cactus mice can give birth at approximately 29-day intervals for two years or more. Cactus mice occur throughout Tonto National Monument.

Did You Know?

snow in the desert

Tonto National Monument averages 15" of rain annually. Snow is a rare occurrence, but as long as temperatures remain above freezing, the saguaros don't seem to mind!