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Montana Field Guides

Meadow Jumping Mouse - Zapus hudsonius

Potential Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S3S4
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Species is found across much of southeast Montana in mesic habitats. It may be common within range and habitat but faces threats from overgrazing impacting vegetation density in riparian areas. Information on trend and impact of threats is unavailable. Future baseline surveys may clarify the species status.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Meadow Jumping Mouse (Zapus hudsonius) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 05/03/2018
    Range Extent

    ScoreF - 20,000-200,000 km squared (about 8,000-80,000 square miles)

    Comment78,534 square Kilometers from Natural Heritage Program range maps

    Long-term Trend

    ScoreE - Relatively Stable (±25% change)

    CommentHabitat is likely stable within +/- 25% since European settlement

    Short-term Trend

    ScoreU - Unknown. Short-term trend in population, range, area occupied, and number and condition of occurrences unknown.

    CommentNo data on trends available


    ScoreU - Unknown. The available information is not sufficient to assign degree of threat as above. (Severity, scope, and immediacy are all unknown, or mostly [two of three] unknown or not assessed [null].)


    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    ScoreC - Not Intrinsically Vulnerable. Species matures quickly, reproduces frequently, and/or has high fecundity such that populations recover quickly (< 5 years or 2 generations) from decreases in abundance; or species has high dispersal capability such that extirpated populations soon become reestablished through natural recolonization (unaided by humans).

    CommentNot Intrinsically Vulnerable. Species matures quickly, reproduces frequently, and/or has a high fecundity such that populations recover quickly (< 5 years or 2 generations) from decreases in abundance. Species has good dispersal capabilities such that e

    Environmental Specificity

    ScoreB - Narrow. Specialist. Specific habitat(s) or other abiotic and/or biotic factors (see above) are used or required by the Element, but these key requirements are common and within the generalized range of the species within the area of interest.

    CommentSpecies is found in a variety of habitats, but within these habitats is usually restricted to areas of dense cover in mesic habitats such as along streams and marshes or in wet meadows.

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 3.5 + 0 (geographic distribution) + 0 (environmental specificity) + 0 (long-term trend) + 0 (intrinsic vulnerability) = NA

General Description
The Meadow Jumping Mouse has coarse yellowish-brown upperparts, a broad dark dorsal stripe, a white venter, and yellowish-brown sides paler than the back. The young have softer, paler pelage. The tail is longer than the head and body, is round, sparsely haired, and bicolored (dark above, light below); the hind legs are much longer than the forelegs. The preorbital foramen of the skull is large and oval, and the nasals extend noticeably beyond the incisors. There are 18 teeth in the skull (dental formula: I 1/1, C 0/0, P 1/0, M 3/3). The upper incisors are grooved on the anterior surface, and the single upper premolar is quite small. Body measurements are: total length 187 to 255 millimeters, tail 108 to 155 millimeters, hind foot 28 to 35 millimeters, ear 11 to 16 millimeters and mass 12 to 22 grams (Whitaker 1972).

Diagnostic Characteristics
The only species with which the Meadow Jumping Mouse might be confused is the Western Jumping Mouse (Zapus princeps) where their ranges overlap. The Meadow Jumping Mouse is smaller and darker in color, with more yellowish-brown on the sides. The tail is sharply bicolored, unlike the bicolored tail of the Western Jumping Mouse. The premolar is small, and the maxillary tooth row is less than 3.7 millimeters in length (Clark and Stromberg 1987, Foresman 2012a, 2001b). Jumping mice lack the external fur-lined cheek pouches present in pocket mice.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 32

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

This species is non-migratory. No information is available specific to Montana.
Elsewhere, home ranges were determined to vary from 0.14 to more than 4.0 acres (Jones et al. 1983), and location shifts of up to 0.8 kilometer were observed (Whitaker 1972).

In Montana, Meadow Jumping Mice have been found in dense, tall and lush grass and forbs in marshy areas (sometimes with standing water), riparian areas, woody draws, and grassy upland slopes, sometimes within or near forested sites of ponderosa pine (Lampe et al. 1974, Matthews 1980, Matthews and Swenson 1982).

The Meadow Jumping Mouse is generally described as a species which occupies moist lowland habitats rather than drier uplands, preferring relatively dense vegetation in open grassy and brushy areas of marshes, meadows, swamps, open conifer forest, and often favor sites bordered by small streams. On the Northern Great Plains this usually results in its restriction primarily to riparian habitats. When inactive, they occupy underground burrows, usually in banks or hills (winter), or under logs or grass clumps. Young are born in an underground nest or under other cover (Krutzsch 1954, Whitaker 1972, Jones et al. 1983).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2012.  Mammals of Montana.  Second edition.  Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana.  429 pp.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
The diet of the Meadow Jumping Mouse includes a wide variety of invertebrates (especially insects), seeds, leaves, buds, fruits, and subterranean fungi (Krutzsch 1954). They forage mostly on the surface, but sometimes dig. In one New York study, animal matter composed close to half the diet in spring, and seeds about 20%. As the season progressed more seeds and less animal matter were consumed, and fungi (Endogone) became more important. Seeds, particularly grass seeds, were the basic food in general, used in sequence as they appeared in the field. The most important animal foods were lepidopteran larvae, and beetles in the ground beetle and weevil families. Available evidence indicates the Meadow Jumping Mouse does not store food (Whitaker 1972). The diet in Montana has not been studied or reported.

Meadow Jumping Mice are basically solitary and docile, and usually nocturnal. They hibernate in winter, beginning in late September in the east, but more often in October, and emerge in late April and early May (Krutzsch 1954, Whitaker 1972). The inactive period in Montana may be longer; all individuals have been captured during June to August (June 2 to August 29), and none have been taken in the same areas during spring trapping sessions (Lampe et al. 1974, Matthews 1980). They may shift their activity area in response to seasonal drying of habitat. Neither runways nor burrows are used extensively during the active period, other than the burrow leading directly to nests or hibernacula. Summer nests are usually on the surface of the ground in globular balls of grass. Winter burrows are placed underground or under logs and lined with leaves or grass, and placed approximately 0.3 to 0.5 meter below the ground surface, using moist locations (Krutzsch 1954, Whitaker 1972). Predators include Barn and Long-eared Owls, Red-tailed Hawk, weasels, American Mink, skunks, foxes, Coyotes, frogs and rattlesnakes (Krutzsch 1954, Whitaker 1972, Jones et al. 1983). Predators of Meadow Jumping Mice in Montana have not been reported. Winter mortality is probably the most important cause of death in Meadow Jumping Mice less than one year old, and possibly adults as well (Jones et al. 1983).

Population density varies considerably from year to year and with site quality. Estimates in Minnesota ranged from 48.3 per hectare at one site to monthly estimates of 7.4 to 14.4 per hectare at a second site (Whitaker 1972). There is no information on population density or trends in Montana.

Reproductive Characteristics
Little information is available on reproduction in Montana. Six of 14 females captured in July in Carter County were carrying embryos; mean number of embryos was 6.0. Three adult and five juvenile females were neither pregnant nor lactating (Lampe et al. 1974).

In general, the Meadow Jumping Mouse is known to breed from late April to early September. Gestation lasts 17 to 21 days. Litters were born in every 10-day period in New York from May 11 to September 20; most litters in Minnesota were born between mid-June and the end of August. Litter size is 2 to 9 (averages from different studies ranged from 4.5 to 5.7); individual females may produce up to 2 or 3 litters per year (Whitaker 1972). Young are weaned and independent in about 4 weeks. Most first breed in the summer following their birth. Maximum longevity is 2 to 3 years.

No special management activities have been developed or implemented for this species in Montana. Alteration of natural surface water sources for livestock, especially free-flowing springs and seeps, could have negative impacts on populations, given the preference of Meadow Jumping Mice for grassland sites whose structure is influenced by the nearby presence of water (Lampe et al. 1974, Matthews 1980, Matthews and Swenson 1982). A thorough small mammal survey of appropriate mesic grassland, shrub-grassland, and meadow habitats in eastern and southeastern Montana is desirable to define the distribution and relative abundance of this species in the state.

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Clark, S.G. and M.R. Stromberg. 1987. Mammals in Wyoming. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Public Education Series Number 10. xii + 314 pp.
    • Foresman, K.R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. American Society of Mammalogists, Special Publication Number 12. Lawrence, KS. 278 pp.
    • Foresman, K.R. 2012. Mammals of Montana. Second edition. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. 429 pp.
    • Jones, J.K., D.M. Armstrong, R.S. Hoffmann and C. Jones. 1983. Mammals of the northern Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 379 pp.
    • Krutzsch, P.H. 1954. North American jumping mice (Zapus hudsonius). University of Kansas Publications, Museum of Natural History 7:349-472.
    • Lampe, R.P., J.K. Jones Jr., R.S. Hoffmann, and E.C. Birney. 1974. The mammals of Carter County, southeastern Montana. Occa. Pap. Mus. Nat. Hist. Univ. Kan. 25:1-39.
    • Matthews, W.L. 1980. Note: the meadow jumping mouse in southeastern Montana. Prairie Nat. 12(2):63-64.
    • Matthews, W.L. and J.E. Swenson. 1982. The mammals of east-central Montana. Proc. Mont. Acad. Sci. 39: 1-13.
    • Whitaker, J.O., and R.E. Wrigley. 1972. (Zapus hudsonius). Mammalian Species No. 11 7 pp.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Buck, C.L. 1939. Pattern correlation of mammalian teeth as a means of identification. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 55 p.
    • Douglass, R.J., and McNaughton, A.E.L. 1977. A recent record of the meadow jumping mouse, Zapus hudsonius, in the Northwest Territories. Can. Field Nat. 91: 96-97.
    • Federal Register 63: 1998. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Final Rule to List the Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse as a Threatened Species. May 13, 1998. 50 CFR Part 17 RIN 1018-AE06. pp. 26517-26530.
    • Flath, D. L. 1984. Vertebrate species of special interest or concern. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes. Spec. Publ. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Helena. 76 pp.
    • Flath, D.L. 1979. Nongame species of special interest or concern: Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes. Wildlife Division, Montana Department of Fish and Game. Helena, MT.
    • Foresman, K. R. 2001. Key to the mammals of Montana. University of Montana Bookstore, Missoula, Montana. 92 pp.
    • Frey, J. K. 1992. Response of a mammalian faunal element to climatic changes. J. Mamm. 73:43-50.
    • Hafner, D.J., K.E. Petersen, and T.L. Yates. 1981. Evolutionary relationships of jumping mice (genus Zapus) of the southwestern United States. Journal of Mammalogy. 62:501-512.
    • Hoffmann, R.S. and D.L. Pattie. 1968. A guide to Montana mammals: identification, habitat, distribution, and abundance. Missoula, MT: University of Montana. 133 p.
    • Hoffmeister, D.F. 1986. Mammals of Arizona. Univ. Arizona Press and Arizona Game and Fish Dept. 602 pp.
    • Hoyle, J.A. and R. Boonstra. 1986. Life history traits of the meadow jumping mouse, Zapus hudsonius, in southern Ontario. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 100:537-544.
    • Joslin, Gayle, and Heidi B. Youmans. 1999. Effects of recreation on Rocky Mountain wildlife: a review for Montana. [Montana]: Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society.
    • LaVelle, Darlene. 1988. 1988 Nongame surveys in Region 5 and Region 7.' MTFWP. 40pp.
    • Matthews, W.L. 1980a. Wibaux-Beach comparison study: Sydney, Glendive and Plevna Study Areas. Bureau of Land Management, Miles City, MT. 50 p.
    • Pefaur, J. E., and R. S. Hoffmann. 1975. Studies of small mammal populations at three sites on the Northern Great Plains. Occasional Papers of the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, Lawrence. No. 37:1-27.
    • Pefaur, J.E. and R.S. Hoffmann. 1971. Merriam's shrew and hispid pocket mouse in Montana. American Midland Naturalist 86(1):247-248.
    • Quimby, D.C. 1951. Life history and ecology of the jumping mouse, Zapus hudsonicus. Ecol. Monogr. 21(1):61-95.
    • Reid, F. 2006. Peterson Field Guide to Mammals of North America, 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston and New York, 608 pp.
    • Scow, K.L. 1981. Ecological distribution of small mammals at Sarpy Creek, Montana, with special consideration of the Deer Mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 73 p.
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Meadow Jumping Mouse — Zapus hudsonius.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from