Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
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Chaetodipus californicus

California Pocket Mouse

Order: Rodentia
Family: Heteromyidae

Image of Chaetodipus californicus
Chaetodipus californicus is on the left, and Chaetodipus fallax (San Diego pocket mouse) is on the right
Click to enlarge. (82 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

California Pocket Mice eat seeds, insects, and sometimes green leaves. Like other pocket mice in the genus Chaetodipus, they scurry around on all four feet (unlike kangaroo rats, which are in the same family of rodents, and which hop on their hind feet). They are good climbers, and prefer dense, shrubby habitat, especially chaparral. Periodically, wildfires kill most of the California Pocket Mice in an area, but within a year, others move in. Significant population fluctuations are normal.

Sexual Dimorphism:

Average: 216.1 mm
Range: 190-235 mm

Average: 23 g
Range: 18-29 g


Merriam, C.H., 1889.  Preliminary revision of the North American pocket mice (genera Perognathus et Cricetodipus auct.) with descriptions of new species and subspecies and a key to the known forms, p. 26.  North American Fauna, 1:1-36.


Mammal Species of the World

Distribution of Chaetodipus californicus

Image of Chaetodipus californicus
Click to enlarge. (83kb)