The fur of this grey-brown rodent is flecked with dark guard hairs that make the heath mouse look fluffy. It is paler underneath, has a blunt face, bulging eyes and short rounded ears.
Heath mice look similar to bush rats, but are distinguished by their tails. The tails of heath mice are dark above and light underneath while rats have ringed tails.
Diet and habitat
Heath mice eat leaf and stem material supplemented with fungus and insects. Diet can vary from season to season.
They construct multiple shallow burrows, usually under a low bush. Although generally nocturnal, heath mice are sometimes active during the day.
max 6 yrs
The heath mouse breeds during late spring andsummer, with females giving birth between December and January. Females begin breeding at 10 to 12 months of age and can produce two litters of three youngper year. Young develop quickly and growth is rapid, juveniles reaching adult size in 3-4 months.
Heath mice occur in south-west Victoria, southern SA and southern WA. They were thought to be extinct in WA until rediscovered in 1987, although they have not been found during recent surveys. They are proposed for reintroduction to Dirk Hartog Island as part of the Return to 1616 project.
Numbers of heath mice are declining and are threatened by feral predators, habitat loss and fragmentation.