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Desert Diary
Mammals/The Mouse


And then there is the mouse. THE mouse? That's what some people think, literally lumping hundreds of kinds of mice into "The Mouse".

In our Chihuahuan Desert, we're blessed with many of those kinds, along with numerous other rodents. Blessed? Yep! One of the things that make the desert a fascinating place to live is its diversity. As every creature interacts with its physical environment and with other living things, it all comes together to form our dynamic ecosystem.

White-footed mice, harvest mice, pygmy mice, pocket mice, house mice. The desert has them all, and many have multiple species. Among the white-footed mice in the El Paso area, for example, we have the Cactus Mouse, the White-footed Mouse, the Rock Mouse, the Deer Mouse, and the Brush Mouse—each with its own way of life, its own ecological niche. And we haven't even mentioned those larger mice that we call rats.

Most people, however, experience only the introduced House Mouse, whose niche revolves around humans, who kindly provide shelter, food, and—who knows—maybe even unwilling companionship.
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Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

harvest mouse image

A Harvest Mouse (Reithrodontomys megalotis), one of the many kinds of mice in the Chihuahuan Desert. Study specimen, Laboratory for Environmental Biology.



Anderson, S. 1972. Mammals of Chihuahua, taxonomy and distribution. Bulletin, American Museum of Natural History, 148 (Art. 2):149-410.

Findley, J. S. 1987. The natural history of New Mexican mammals. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 164 pp.