The mouse in this house was not a house mouse! Our so called house mouse, Mus musculus, aka "fancy mouse" came across the big pond from Europe with early explorers, probably originating in India, before having reached Europe around 100 B.C and North America with the British in the later 1600s. They are more adapted to living with humans than almost any animal with the exception of college graduates moving back in with their parents. Their greatest importance is in our research laboratories and to the exterminator industry.
The tremendous jumps of my new friend led me into a rabbit hole of researching like Alice in Wonderland (actually more of a mouse hole). There are 12 species of mice in Missouri in addition to the common house mouse. The dramatic leaps of my mouse immediately brought to mind the jumping meadow mouse (JMM), Zapus hudsonius pallidus, which has been reported scattered throughout Missouri although Christian County has never had a confirmed sighting. They are noted for their extremely long tail, 150% of their body length, and their long hind feet measuring 28 to 35 mm long.
|A whale of a tail|
|Click to enlarge - Photo Debbie Fantz MDC|
I have finally decided that this was a particularly athletic specimen of a fulvous harvest mouse based on a single trait. My mouse was housed in the bottom of a bluebird nest box wired 4' up on a metal fence T-post. The box had two small triangular openings in the wooden floor.
"Perhaps the most fascinating habit of the fulvous harvest mouse is its ability to build large, above-ground "penthouses" in grasses, low shrubs, or small trees (Davis and Schmidly 1994). These may be constructed of the materials in the animal's habitat or may be converted bird's nests. The solid, globe-shaped nest has one or two exits near the bottom end which can be clogged up." AnimalDiversity.org
Thanks to Debbie Fantz and Ashley Schnake of MDC
Wild Mammals of Missouri lists 13 mouse species.