A Few Common Mice

According to Gordon Kricher, writing in the marvelous Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Forests, mice are the most common mammal in the great forests of Northeastern North America. The little Deer Mice and the White Footed Mice actually outnumber the bolder and more conspicuous forest rodents such as squirrels or chipmunks. Secretive fellows, these mice often forage at night. Omnivores a with tilt towards plant-eating, they form an important link in forest food chains. When mice populations are not held in check by predators such as owls, foxes, weasels, or bobcats, they can consume so many tree seeds and newly sprouted saplings that forest regeneration is measurably slowed. A rise in their numbers (often seen when oaks produce lots of acorns – as in good mast years) is often associated with increased tick populations. This is especially troublesome when the ticks themselves are infected with disease-causing organisms such the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferia – which causes Lyme disease in us humans.

This coloring page will also familiarize students with the outer appearance of the Jumping Mouse who tends to eat mostly insects, and hibernates through the winter when her favorite treats become less available. Youngsters will find the most common mouse of fields and open areas: the vole. They should be able to notice his very small eyes and ears, chunky shape, and stubby tail. This kind of a mouse is a favorite menu item for hawks. His intricate paths under the snow, where he nibbles on dry grass, are often revealed in early spring as the snow cover melts away. They’ll also see a drawing of the common House Mouse (who is actually not at all native to the Americas)!

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