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Jumping-Mouse

JUMPING-MOUSE, the name of a North American mouselike rodent, Zapus hudsonius, belonging to the family Jaculidae (Dipodidae), and the other members of the same genus. Although mouse-like in general appearance, these rodents are distinguished by their elongated hind limbs, and, typically, by the presence of four pairs of cheek-teeth in each jaw. There are five toes to all the feet, but the first in the fore-feet is rudimentary, and furnished with a flat nail. The cheeks are provided with pouches. Jumping-mice were long supposed to be confined to North America, but a species is now known from N.W. China. It is noteworthy that whereas E. Coues in 1877 recognized but a single representative of this genus, ranging over a large area in North America, A. Preble distinguishes no fewer than twenty North American species and sub-species, in addition to the one from Szechuen. Among these, it may be noted that Z. insignis differs from the typical Z. hudsonius by the loss of the premolar, and has accordingly been referred to a sub-genus apart. Moreover, the Szechuen jumping-mouse differs from the typical Zapus by the closer enamel-folds of the molars, the shorter ears, and the white tail-tip, and is therefore made the type of another sub-genus. In America these rodents inhabit forest, pasture, cultivated fields or swamps, but are nowhere numerous. When disturbed, they start off with enormous bounds of eight or ten feet in length, which soon diminish to three or four; and in leaping the feet scarcely seem to touch the ground. The nest is placed in clefts of rocks, among timber or in hollow trees, and there are generally three litters in a season. (See RODENTIA.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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