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Volume 72—1992

{Page 67}

Occurrence of the Cotton Mouse, Peromyscus gossypinus, in Northcentral Oklahoma

Toni Payne and William Caire

Department of Biology, University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond, OK 73034
Received: 1992 May 01; Revised: 1992 June 05

Occurrence of the cotton mouse, Peromyscus gossypinus, has been documented in Bryan, Haskell, Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain, and Pushmataha County in southeast Oklahoma (1). The northernmost Oklahoma record of occurrence was in Haskell County, 10.5 km E, 3.2 km S of Stigler, Oklahoma (1).

Ten cotton mice (six males and four females) were trapped in Sherman live-traps in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, Osage County, Oklahoma, 200 km northwest of the Haskell County location. This represents the northwesternmost occurrence of cotton mice in the United States. Mean measurements (in mm) were: total length, 177.3; length of tail, 79.9; length of body, 97.4; length of hind foot, 22.2; length of ear, 15.8; weight, 28.3 g; greatest length of skull, 28.1; and breadth of zygomatic, 13.7. All measurements were within the range proposed for P. gossypinus by Wolfe and Linzey (2) and Schmidly (3). As described for P. gossypinus (2), each had a distinct dusky middorsal stripe from the shoulder to the base of the tail and each tail was bicolored (2).

These cotton mice were caught in a lowland oak-hickory-elm forest along Sand Creek containing the following species: Quercus spp., Ulmus rubra, Bumelia lanuginosa, Carya sp., Staphylea trifolia, Celtis occidentalis, Cercis canadensis, Cornus sp., Symphoricarpos orbiculatus, and Parthenocissus quinquefolia. Peromyscus gossypinus has been reported in similar habitats (2).

In areas where both P. leucopus and P. gossypinus occur, P. leucopus usually inhabits upland woods and P. gossypinus lowland woods (4,5). However, P. leucopus was taken in the same trap lines with P. gossypinus in the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. McCarley (5) suggested that P. gossypinus might ecologically displace P. leucopus from lowland riparian woods.

It is probable that P. gossypinus has dispersed to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve along forested river valleys of the Arkansas River, Bird Creek, and Sand Creek from southern and eastern provenances.


This project was funded in part by a grant from The Nature Conservancy to survey the mammals on the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, and by a University of Central Oklahoma faculty research grant to W. Caire. We thank the many students from the University of Central Oklahoma who helped in the trapping and Terry Harrison and Gloria Caddell for identification of the plants.


1.   Caire, W., Tyler, J.D., Glass, B.P., and Mares, M.A., Mammals of Oklahoma. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman (1989), p. 567.

2.   Wolfe, J.L., and Linzey, A.V., Peromyscus gossypinus. Mamm. Species 70, 1-5 (1977)

3.   Schmidly, D.J., Texas Mammals East of the Balcones Fault Zone. Texas A&M University Press, College Station (1983), p. 400.

4.   Taylor, R.J., and McCarley, H., Vertical Distribution of Peromyscus leucopus and P. gossypinus Under Experimental Conditions. Southwest. Nat. 8, 107-108 (1963).

5.   McCarley, H., Distributional Relationships of Sympatric Populations of Peromyscus leucopus and P. gossypinus. Ecology 44, 784-788 (1963).