The Northern Grasshopper Mouse (Onychomys
leucogaster) is a rodent about the size of a small hamster with
grayish fur on his back and white fur on its belly. It has a short
tail, about a third as long as the rest of its body. Grasshopper
mice are found in arid and semiarid regions from Mexico through
central and western United States and into Canada.
As their name
suggests, grasshopper mice eat grasshoppers. They also eat
other insects, lizards, spiders, and
even other mice. This mouse is more carnivorous than other mice. In fact, about 90 percent of what they
eat is animal material. They are aggressive predators. They
will stalk their prey, grasp it with their unusually long claws, and
kill with a bite of their long, sharp teeth at the base of the
prey's neck. They have enlarged jaw muscles for biting and chewing.
They get most of the water they need from eating animal tissue.
Grasshopper mice are very
territorial. They have large territories (about six acres)
that they mark with scent glands. They may emit a shrill
whistle to warn others from entering their territory.
Sometimes they will stand on their hind legs, throw their head back
and "howl," much like a wolf. The shrill, eerie call is
audible to human ears for 100 yards or more.
rodents, male and female grasshopper mice cooperate to raise their
young. This may be because, like all predators, the young mice need
to be taught how to hunt and kill prey.
Because of their
strong, social bonds, their aggressive hunting skills and their
territorial behavior, these small rodents are often compared to a