The Deer Mouse can live for 5-7 years, compared to a field mouse who only live 2-3 years. They are nocturnal, and omnivorous, meaning they only come out at night and they eat everything from beetles to grass seeds. They store their food in ‘caches’ in order to survive the winter. Deer mice are highly adaptable and are found in a variety of different terrestrial habitats at all elevations ranging from prairies, forests, and occasionally human dwellings. Deer Mice are semi-arboreal, they climb well, they can swim, and may forage in shallow water They are quite accomplished runners an jumpers, which is why they are called “deer” mice.
Hispid pocket mice inhabit a variety of upland habitats, but are most abundant in areas with sandy soils and patches of bare ground. They are also found all over Texas, except in the far south. Essentially granivores, the diet of the hispid pocket mouse consists primarily of seeds it selectively gathers, though these mice do consume some insects and leaves. Hispid pocket mice are solitary. Our Hispid Pocket Mouse is named Squeezy. He was rescued and hand raised by Wichita Falls Reptile Rescue after his mother was discovered deceased. He is very friendly and enjoys being petted and absolutely loves sweet stuff!
Black-tailed prairie dogs are tough, social animals that live in and around burrows deep within the prairie soil. They grow to between 14 and 17 inches long and weigh about 2 to 3 pounds. They’re a burrowing rodent related to ground squirrels, and they live from three to five years. Black-tailed prairie dogs live in complex communities, called “towns” or “colonies.” The colony is an underground tunnel system leading to various chambers. Prairie dogs play a very important role in sustaining other prairie life. Biologists count more than 170 vertebrate species that are affected by the prairie dogs’ existence. They represent the primary diet for a number of species including: Black-Footed Ferrets (federally endangered), Swift foxes, Ferruginous Hawks, Burrowing Owls, Golden Eagles, Badgers, Prairie Falcons, Mountain Plovers, and many more. Prairie dog populations are directly linked to the success or failure of all of these other species.
The prairie dog is well adapted to predators. Using its excellent vision, it can detect predators from a far distance and then alert other prairie dogs with different calls. Each call contains specific information as to what the predator is, how big it is, and how fast it is approaching. These calls have been described as a form of grammar.
The Black Tailed Prairie dog used to be the most numerous mammal in North America. The loss of open prairie has dramatically reduced their population. Since the arrival of European settlers, North America’s prairie dog population has plummeted by 98 percent. Prairie dogs have been exterminated because of the perceived competition with grazing cattle and bison for grasses. New studies indicate that prairie dogs do not drastically affect the amount of vegetation available for cattle, and cattle actually prefer the grass that grows near their burrows.
Our prairie dogs are named Meeka and Mika, they are both female and very friendly. They used to be pets, but now they’re a part of the River Bend Family! We are currently working with TPWD on plans to build them a larger enclosure. Come and see them soon!