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Sunday, December 4, 2011
Salvin´s Spiny Pocket Mouse II
Among the biodiversity in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, Nicaragua, are some little creatures that are often overlooked. Under cover of darkness, while others sleep, the forest floor becomes the scene of activity of rodents and other creatures. The most common of the small rodents in the tropical dry forest ecosystem of our reserve is Salvin´s Spiny Pocket Mouse (Liomys salvini). We have been monitoring rodent populations on the forest floor for a few years, and the most common rodent in most areas we have surveyed is this one.
The Salvin's Spiny Pocket Mouse lives in tiny burrows, often under rocks. There are several subspecies which vary slightly in size and coloration. Like all Liomys mice, its belly is white, and its characteristic pouches in the jaws facilitate food gathering for later consumption. When we capture them, they often drop small seeds such as of grasses from their jaws. They may be important vectors in seed dispersal for some plants, thus acting directly on the biodiversity of their habitat.
The variety found in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve , subspecies vulcani, shows a distinct reddish margin on the brown upper parts.
Volunteers on our monitoring project use Sherman traps to capture the animals, measure and note their condition, and then release them where they were found, without harm. Most of the mice we capture in our studies are Liomys salvini.
The mice are most easily handled inside a ziplock bag with a few holes to permit access to air. The mouse gives a few minutes of his time to our volunteers, then they go back to the forest floor.
The hindfoot of this mouse is poking through a hole in the plastic bag, facilitating hindfoot measurement and analysis of the callouses. The callous arrangement is unique to each species.
We recently learned that this species is quite sensitive to pesticide use, as a neighbor sprayed some pesticide and the blowover reached two nests of this species, which promptly abandoned the location!
Nature and wildlife lovers take note. We need more assistance in gathering information about the rodents and other fauna of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. If you would like to help, whether as a scientist, student or volunteer, please let us know.