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deer mice, woodrats, and relatives


New World deer mice are a large group of rodents, with about 124 species. They are found throughout North and South America. New World deer mice are usually mouse-sized animals, but include woodrats, which can reach 450 grams. They have long, well-furred tails, large, rounded ears, and large eyes.

New World deer mice are found in many kinds of habitats and have become adapted to many kinds of lifestyles. Most live on the ground and in the trees. They climb fairly well and sometimes build "runways" through vegetation on the ground. Some species burrow, but most simply build nests in natural crevices or in the nests or burrows of other animals. Deer mice species can be active at any time, but tend to be nocturnal. They are active throughout the year, but may spend more time sleeping to conserve energy in cold weather.

They eat mainly plant foods, such as fruits, seeds, and vegetation, but also include invertebrates and other animal foods in their diet. In North America some of the most abundant members of this group are the white-footed, or deer mice (genus Peromyscus ).

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Neotominae" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 18, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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