Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse  LbNA # 26362

Placed DateOct 8 2006
CountyEl Paso
LocationColorado Springs, CO
Found By Music Lover
Last Found Mar 18 2010
Hike Distance?

Description: Approximately 1.5 miles round trip, the last quarter mile to the box is through the undeveloped terrain of the park and without a trail. Though essentially treeless and grass covered, the area is peppered with some small cactus and spiny weeds. Long pants and sturdy shoes are recommended, and mind where you step. Your leashed pet is welcome, but please be responsible and clean up after your pet.

Directions: From I-25 in Colorado Springs, take exit 151 Briargate Parkway. Get into the right hand driving lane as soon as you can. At the first light (Hgy 83), turn right. Turn left onto Research Parkway. Turn left onto Union Blvd. At the first light, turn left into the parking lot of the shopping center and park here.

This is the story of the not-so little mouse that could...

The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei), a relatively small rodent with an extremely long tail, large hind feet and long hind legs, inhabits the foothills in southeastern Wyoming, southward along the eastern edge of the front range of Colorado to Colorado Springs. Total length of an adult Preble’s mouse is approximately 8-10 inches with over 60 percent of its length in its tail.

The habitat for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is comprised of well-developed plains riparian vegetation with adjacent, relatively undisturbed grassland communities and a nearby water source. These riparian areas include a relatively dense combination of grasses, forbs, and shrubs.

Found in Colorado in 1899 by Edward A. Preble, it was listed in 1998 as a threatened species. The Preble’s is long-lived for a small mammal, though it has a long list of predators that includes garter snakes, rattlesnakes, bullfrogs, foxes, house cats, long-tailed weasels, hawks (an impressive pair regularly patrol the openspace), owls, and others (incidentally, my dog numbers among the "others", particularly at dusk when the mice are jumping in the grass; he tries to catch them on the fly-- ICK!). The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse is primarily nocturnal, but may be active some during the day.

The Preble’s mouse enters hibernation in September or October and doesn’t emerge until May. It puts on extra fat prior to hibernation and does not store food underground for the winter.

The Preble's confirmation in July 2006 as a genetically distinct species of jumping mouse presents a barrier to eastward expansion in it's habitat area and has resulted in the creation of many openspace areas. The 110 acre Venezia Park and Openspace is one such area; 80 acres will be left undeveloped to protect the little mouse and it's habitat.

Clues: To reach the letterbox, return to the sidewalk on Union and continue to head roughly north until the sidewalk ends. You have reached Venezia Openspace. Walk along the fences on the levelled area roughly west. Gradually curve west. A fenced schoolyard playground will become visible ahead. About 6 or so houses before the schoolyard, a bit down the slope is a lone long needled pine. Preble's mouse is hiding at its base, nestled among the needles.

There is a pen and inkpad in the box. Please rehide the box well. Return the way you came (there is no gap between the schoolyard and the housing). Happy hunting!