Camiguin forest mouse (Apomys camiguinensis)

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderRodentia
FamilyMuridae
GenusApomys (1)
SizeTotal length: 24 - 26 cm (2)
Tail length: 14 - 16 cm (2)
Weight34 - 42 g (2)

The Camiguin forest mouse is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The Camiguin forest mouse (Apomys camiguinensis) is one of two mammals endemic to the tiny island of Camiguin in the Philippines (3). The Camiguin forest mouse has dark brownish-russet upperparts, sparsely speckled with pale dots, giving it a subtle salt-and-pepper effect. The throat is whitish and the rest of the underparts are pale grey (4). It has a long, narrow snout (4), and particularly large ears and eyes relative to other species of mouse (2).

The Camiguin forest mouse can be distinguished from its close relatives, the Mindanao montane forest mouse (Apomys insignis) and the Mindanao mossy forest mouse (Apomys hylocoetes), by a number of subtle features. The Camiguin forest mouse is greater in size than these other species and has longer, broader hind feet. Its coat is also slightly less russet in colour, and the separation between the brown back and pale underside is more distinct (5).

Known only from the central highlands of Camiguin Island in the Philippines, the Camiguin forest mouse has been documented at elevations between 1,000 and 1,400 metres (1) (2). 

The Camiguin forest mouse occurs in steep, cold, wet montane and mossy forests (1) (4). 

The nocturnal Camiguin forest mouse forages on the ground (2). Although its diet is not known, it is likely to be similar to that of the closely related Mindanao montane forest mouse (Apomys insignis) and the Mindanao mossy forest mouse (Apomys hylocoetes), which feed on seeds and invertebrates (6).

Little is known about the breeding biology of the Camiguin forest mouse (1), although one pregnant female was found to be carrying one embryo (4), indicating that, like the Mindanao montane forest mouse (Apomys insignis), it probably gives birth to a single young at a time (6). 

Although the Camiguin forest mouse is locally common and the population is believed to be stable, it is only present in the very small forested area of Camiguin, and hence is vulnerable to extinction (1). The remaining forest on Camiguin is shrinking due to commercial logging, which takes place even on steep slopes (7) (8). Agriculture is also expanding into the Camiguin forest mouse‚Äôs habitat, as farmers move to higher elevations in search of better soils and away from the expanding tourist areas on the coast (1). 

As very little is known about the abundance of the Camiguin forest mouse (1), no specific conservation strategy has yet been formulated. However, the area of Camiguin where the forest mouse resides has been proposed as a protected area by the National Integrated Protected Areas System (8).

The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office of the Philippines has established a Forest Protection Committee on Camiguin to control illegal logging. This committee is vigilant in its policing, prosecuting those who illegally extract forest products. The committee is also strongly supported by local mayors, who encourage forest conservation due to the growing ecotourism industry on the island. Furthermore, reforestation schemes are underway on the island, and a reported 1,500 hectares of forest have already been restored (8).

Learn more about conservation in the Philippines:

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  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Heaney, L.R., Balete, D.S., Dolar, M.L., Alcala, A.C., Dans, A.T.L., Gonzales, P.C., Ingle, N.R., Lepiten, M.V., Oliver, W.L.R., Ong, P.S., Rickart, E.A., Tabaranza Jr, B.R. and Utzurrum, R.C.B. (1998) A synopsis of the mammalian fauna of the Philippine Islands. Fieldiana Zoology, 88: 1-61. Available at:
    http://www.fieldmuseum.org/philippine_mammals
  3. Heaney, L.R., Tabaranza Jr, B.R., Balete, D.S. and Rigertas, N. (2006) Synopsis and biogeography of the mammals of Camiguin Island, Philippines. Fieldiana Zoology, 106: 28-48.
  4. Heaney, L.R. and Tabaranza Jr, B.R. (2006) Mammal and land bird studies on Camiguin Island, Philippines: Background and conservation priorities. Fieldiana: Zoology, New Series, 106: 1-13.
  5. Heaney, L.R. and Tabaranza Jr, B.R. (2006) A new species of forest mouse, genus Apomys (Mammalia, Rodentia, Muridae) from Camiguin Island, Philippines. Fieldiana: Zoology, New Series, 106: 14-27.
  6. Musser, G.G. and Heaney, L.R. (1992) Philippine rodents: definitions of Tarsomys and Limnomys plus a preliminary assessment of phylogenetic patterns among native Philippine murines (Murinae, Muridae). Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 211: 1-138.
  7. Heaney, L.R. and Tabaranza Jr, B.R. (1995) Preliminary report on mammalian diversity and conservation status in Camiguin Island, Philippines. Sylvatrop, 5: 57-64.
  8. BirdLife International - Timpoong and Hibok-hibok Natural Monument (November, 2010)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sitefactsheet.php?id=9790