Eastern puna mouse (Punomys kofordi)

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Punomys kofordi
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Eastern puna mouse fact file

Eastern puna mouse description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderRodentia
FamilyCricetidae
GenusPunomys (1)

A stocky, vole-like rodent, the eastern puna mouse (Punomys kofordi) takes its scientific name from the American naturalist and conservationist Dr Karl B. Kofordi (2) (3). Its common name is derived from the puna grassland region it inhabits in the eastern Andes, where it is unusual in being one of the only mammals that is found entirely at such high elevations (2).

The long, soft, loose fur of the eastern puna mouse is generally dull buffy-brown or greyish-brown on the upperparts, and white or greyish on the underparts, with a buffy wash. The tail is usually dusky above and white below, and the hands and feet are dusky on the top and black below, with small claws (2).

Size
Head-body length: 13 - 15 cm (2)
Tail length: 4.6 - 7.7 cm (2)
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Eastern puna mouse biology

A small, agile species, the eastern puna mouse feeds primarily on plants, particularly Senecio adenophylloides and Werneria digitata. It is a remarkably dextrous rodent, able to manipulate and cut twigs as long as 50 centimetres with its stout incisors. The eastern puna mouse usually stores the cut twigs in a cache under a rock, sometimes storing as many as 30 twigs in one cache (2).

The eastern puna mouse is active during the day, when it will scurry from place to place in the shelter of rocks. This species is thought to breed during the dry season, possibly between June and September (2)

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Eastern puna mouse range

The eastern puna mouse is restricted to the Cordillera Carabaya region of the eastern Andes in southern Peru. It is generally found between elevations of 4,500 to 4,800 metres (1) (4), although it is sometimes recorded at lower elevations of around 3,200 metres (2).

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Eastern puna mouse habitat

Found only in the moist habitats of the puna grassland in Peru, the eastern puna mouse generally inhabits barren, rocky areas, particularly where plants of the genus Senecio are abundant (1) (2). It may also be found in areas of traditional pasture (1).

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Eastern puna mouse status

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

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Eastern puna mouse threats

The eastern puna mouse has a very restricted distribution and has been recorded in only five locations. Although there are currently no major threats to the eastern puna mouse, its limited range means that it is vulnerable to changes in its habitat, such as the drainage of suitable wet areas (1).

Climate change is also a potential threat to this species, due to its restricted elevational range. Climate change may cause some areas of currently suitable habitat to be lost as conditions change, which may threaten the small population of the eastern puna mouse if it is unable to adapt quickly enough (1).

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Eastern puna mouse conservation

The eastern puna mouse is not known from any protected areas. This species would greatly benefit from further research into its habitat, ecology and threats (1)

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Find out more

Find out more about conservation in Peru:

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Authentication

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

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Glossary

Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Incisors
The front or cutting teeth.
Puna grassland
A region of montane grassland and shrubland found above the treeline and below the permanent snowline in the central Andes Mountains of South America.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (April, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  3. Beolens, B., Watkins, M. and Grayson, M. (2009) The eponym dictionary of mammals. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
  4. Wilson, D.E. and Reeder, D.M. (2005) Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference, Volume 1. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland.
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Image credit

Punomys kofordi  
Punomys kofordi

© Horacio Zeballos

Horacio Zeballos
Centro de Estudios y Promoción del Desarrollo (desco)
Peru
horaciozeballos@gmail.com

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