Endangered mice born at Brevard Zoo
photo courtesy of Brevard Zoo
Just a few weeks into the new year, Brevard Zoo welcomed two endangered Perdido Key beach mouse pups as part of a conservation program that aims to maintain a healthy captive population. Many beach mice born at the Zoo have been released in their natural habitat.
The pups’ parents, known internally as Hillary and Donald, were first paired in the heat of election season. The exact date of birth is unknown as beach mouse pups emerge from their underground burrows at 13-16 days of age, but staff speculate they were born in early January. The sex of each pup has not yet been identified.
“These mice are really important because they store seeds inside dunes. The seeds they don’t eat sometimes grow into large plants that help maintain the dune’s structure,” said conservation coordinator Amanda Sanford. “Stronger dunes mean more protection for nearby buildings during hurricanes.”
This subspecies of oilfield mouse is only found on Perdido Key, a small island off the Florida Panhandle. They are threatened by habitat loss, feral cats and a population decline caused by 2004’s Hurricane Ivan.
The breeding and reintroduction program is a collaboration between the Zoo, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Park Service, Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division, Palm Beach Zoo and Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo.