Asia Minor spiny mouse (Acomys cilicicus)

Also known as: Turkish spiny mouse
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderRodentia
FamilyMuridae
GenusAcomys (1)
SizeHead to base of tail: Approximately 10 cm (2)

Classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List (1). This species was previously listed as Critically Endangered but is now considered Data Deficient as it may belong to the same species as the widespread and common northeast African spiny mouse, Acomys cahirinus (1).

The Asia Minor or Turkish spiny mouse is so-called as the back of both males and females are covered in coarse, inflexible spine-like hairs (3). The scientific name Acomys also refers to this feature; the word is derived from the Greek akoke meaning sharp point and mus, meaning mouse (4). The ears are large and erect, and the tail appears to be naked, and its scales are easily visible (3). Although spiny mice have traditionally been thought to belong to the same subfamily as rats and mice (Murinae), recent genetic studies have shown that they are, in fact, more closely related to gerbils (Gerbillinae) (5).

Found only in Turkey, where it occurs in one dry area on the southern coast (1) (4).

Inhabits a dry, rocky desert area (4) (2) in temperate forest (1).

Most species of spiny mice are nocturnal, but they may also be active during the morning and late afternoon (3). They are omnivorous, taking seeds, grass and insects (4). They live in groups, and females that have given birth tend to help other mothers by cleaning them and biting the umbilical cords (3). Reproduction occurs continuously throughout the year, with a gestation period of five to six weeks (3). Two to three young are typically produced per litter (4), with older mothers producing larger litters (3). Young spiny mice are highly developed at birth, their eyes tend to be open and they have a full coat of fur (4). They are fully weaned at two weeks after birth. Two to three months later the young reach sexual maturity, and average life expectancy is around three years (3).

The threats facing this highly endangered spiny mouse are unknown at present (1).

Very little is know of this species and research into the threats facing this mouse is required desperately. A number of zoos support breeding groups of the species (4) (2), which provide a last-ditch redoubt against the total extinction of the species. Hopefully the wild habitat of the Asia Minor spiny mouse can be protected and reintroduction programmes may be possible in the future when more has been discovered of the wild populations of the species and the threats facing it.

For more on spiny mice see:

Spiny Mice- Walker's Mammals of the World:
http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/rodentia/rodentia.muridae.acomys.html

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2009)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Bristol Zoo Gardens (January, 2006)
    http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk
  3. Spiny Mice- Walker’s Mammals of the World (March, 2004)
    http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/rodentia/rodentia.muridae.acomys.html
  4. Chester Zoo (March, 2004)
    http://www.chesterzoo.org/animals.asp?ID=31
  5. Chevret, P., Denys, C., Jaeger, J.J., Michaux, J. and Catzeflis, F.M. (1993) Molecular evidence that the spiny mouse (Acomys) is more closely related to gerbils (Gerbillinae) than to true mice (Murinae). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 90(8): 3433 - 3436.