jumping mouse, rodent slightly larger than the common mouse, found in North America and N Asia, also called the kangaroo mouse. Its long hind legs and tail enable it to leap distances up to 12 ft (3.7 m). Jumping mice have gray to brown fur and are white underneath. They can scurry as well as leap and are good swimmers. Solitary, nocturnal animals, they are found in marshes and on stream banks in coniferous and deciduous forests of both coasts of North America and also in fields and pastures. Two genera, Zapus and Napaeozapus, are North American, ranging from the Arctic Circle S to New Mexico and Tennessee; a related genus, with one species, Eozapus setchuanus, the Szechuan jumping mouse, is native to China. Jumping mice feed on a diet of grass seeds, fruit, and insect larvae. They gain weight in autumn and hibernate in fur-lined burrows during winter. Litters, containing from three to six young, are born in late spring. Jumping mice are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Zapodidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.