Woodland jumping mouse (Napaeozapus insignis)

Woodland jumping mouse grooming
Loading more images and videos...

Woodland jumping mouse fact file

Woodland jumping mouse description

GenusNapaeozapus (1)

The only species in its genus (2) (3), the woodland jumping mouse (Napaeozapus insignis) is a small rodent with long hind feet and a distinctly long tail, which makes up more than half of its total length (2) (4) (5) (6). Using the hind limbs for propulsion and the tail for balance, the woodland jumping mouse is able to make large leaps of up to three metres at a time (4) (5) (6), although it more commonly moves with shorter hops (2) (3).

The woodland jumping mouse has rather coarse fur, due to a layer of stiff guard hairs (2) (3) (4). Its fur is quite bright, with yellow-orange to reddish-brown sides, sprinkled with dark hairs. The sides contrast with the brown to black back and top of the head, and with the pure white underparts. The tops of the feet are also white, while the tail is distinctly bi-coloured, being dark brown above and white below, with a white tip (2) (3) (5) (6). The ears of the woodland jumping mouse are of moderate size and are furred on the outside (6). The female woodland jumping mouse is usually slightly larger than the male (2).

Like all jumping mice, the woodland jumping mouse has prominently grooved incisors (2) (3) (4) (5) (6). This species is distinguished from jumping mice in the genus Zapus by its white tail tip and by differences in its teeth, and from Eozapus species by lacking a dark stripe on the belly (2) (3) (5) (6). Across its range, the woodland jumping mouse varies in appearance, with northern populations generally being larger and paler than those in the south (2) (5). Some scientists have recognised up to five subspecies (2).

Although usually silent, the woodland jumping mouse may sometimes utter a low clicking or clucking sound, or squeal if disturbed. It may also drum its tail (2) (3) (6).

Zapus insignis.
Head-body length: 8 - 10 cm (2) (3)
Tail length: 11.5 - 16 cm (2) (3)
17 - 26 g (2) (3)

Woodland jumping mouse biology

The diet of the woodland jumping mouse includes a variety of fungi, seeds, caterpillars, beetles, nuts, fruits and other plant material (2) (3) (5) (6) (8). Fungi often make up over a third of the diet (4) (5) (8), with underground species such as those in the genus Endogone being particularly important (2) (5) (8) (9). The association of the woodland jumping mouse with cool, moist habitats may partly relate to the availability of this food source (7).

Although it may use long leaps to escape danger, the woodland jumping mouse more often walks around on all fours when moving slowly, or uses short hops for greater speed (2) (3). When escaping, it usually makes several leaps before stopping and remaining motionless under nearby cover (2) (4). The woodland jumping mouse climbs well in bushes, but does not ascend trees (2) (3).

The woodland jumping mouse is most active at night, although it may also be active at dawn and dusk, especially in cloudy or rainy weather (2) (3) (6). This species has a long hibernation, usually lasting from September or October until April or May. During the autumn, the woodland jumping mouse starts to accumulate extra body fat in preparation for hibernation, and will sometimes increase to one and a half times its spring weight (1) (2) (3) (6). No extra food is eaten over the winter months, so any individuals without sufficient fat reserves do not survive (1). In the spring, male woodland jumping mice emerge a couple of weeks before the females (2) (3) (10).

This small rodent builds a globular nest of dry grass and leaves, usually in an underground burrow, in a hollow log or fallen tree, or in a pile of brush (1) (2) (3) (4) (5). Burrows may be dug by the mouse itself, or taken over from another small animal. The entrance is concealed during the day (2) (3). The breeding season of the woodland jumping mouse runs from May to early September, although births usually peak in June and August (1) (2) (3) (5) (6). The gestation period is about 21 to 29 days (1) (2) (5), and litter size ranges from 2 to 7 (2) (3). Females sometimes have two litters a year, particularly in more southerly populations (1) (2) (3) (5).

The newborn woodland jumping mice are naked and blind and weigh just 0.9 grams. The young are fully furred by 24 days old and open their eyes at 26 days (2) (3). Weaning takes place by about 34 days old (3). Neither the male nor female woodland jumping mouse breed until after their first hibernation (1) (2) (3) (10). This species may live up to three or four years, but most individuals probably do not survive beyond one or two years (3) (4) (5).


Woodland jumping mouse range

The woodland jumping mouse occurs in the north-eastern United States and south-eastern Canada. In Canada, it has been recorded from southern Labrador, south through Quebec, and east through southern and central Ontario, as far as Manitoba. Its range extends south through the north-eastern United States, along the Appalachian Mountains and as far south as northern Georgia (1) (2) (3) (5) (6). It is also found in northern Michigan and northern Wisconsin (1) (5).

In the southern parts of its range, the woodland jumping mouse is often restricted to mountain peaks (2) (5).


Woodland jumping mouse habitat

As its common name suggests, the woodland jumping mouse is found primarily in wooded habitats. It prefers relatively cool, moist areas with dense vegetation, particularly in spruce-fir and hemlock-hardwood forests (1) (2) (3) (5) (6) (7). This species is often found along streams or around bogs or swamps (1) (2) (3) (5) (6).

The woodland jumping mouse occurs at a range of elevations, from near sea level to around 2,000 metres in the Appalachian Mountains (2) (6).


Woodland jumping mouse status

The woodland jumping mouse is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Woodland jumping mouse threats

The woodland jumping mouse is a common and widespread species and is not currently considered at risk of extinction. Its populations are believed to be stable, and it is not facing any major threats at present (1).

However, residential, agricultural and industrial development may reduce the habitat available to the woodland jumping mouse in some areas, particularly affecting suitable hibernation sites. In future, a more serious threat is likely to come from climate change, which could cause a decline in the southern populations of this species, which are already restricted to cooler environments at high elevations. Climate change may also cause reduced winter snowfall, removing the insulating layer that the woodland jumping mouse needs to survive its hibernation period (1).


Woodland jumping mouse conservation

There are no specific conservation measures currently known to be in place for the woodland jumping mouse. This colourful rodent occurs within a number of protected areas, but there are no conservation efforts targeting its specific needs (1).

The woodland jumping mouse would benefit from further research into its abundance, the extent of its distribution, and the potential impacts of any threats on its populations (1).


Find out more

Find out more about the woodland jumping mouse:

More information on the conservation of North American rodents:

  • Hafner, D.J., Yensen, E. and Kirkland Jr, G.L. (1998) North American Rodents: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Rodent Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. Available at:


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:



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.
The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
Guard hairs
In some mammals, long, coarse hairs that protect the softer layer of fur below.
A winter survival strategy in which an animal’s metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. Whilst hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer.
The front or cutting teeth.
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.


  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2011)
  2. Whitaker Jr, J.O. and Wrigley, R.E. (1972) Napaeozapus insignis. Mammalian Species, 14: 1-6. Available at:
  3. Nowak, R.M. (1991) Walker’s Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore and London.
  4. Macdonald, D.W. (2006) The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Whitaker Jr, J.O. and Hamilton Jr, W.J. (1998) Mammals of the Eastern United States. Cornell University Press, Ithaca.
  6. Reid, F.A. (2006) A Field Guide to Mammals of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York.
  7. Brannon, M.P. (2005) Distribution and microhabitat of the woodland jumping mouse, Napaeozapus insignis, and the white-footed mouse, Peromyscus leucopus, in the Southern Appalachians. Southeastern Naturalist, 4(3): 479-486.
  8. Whitaker Jr, J.O. (1963) Food, habitat and parasites of the woodland jumping mouse in Central New York. Journal of Mammalogy, 44(3): 316-321.
  9. Orrock, J.L., Farley, D. and Pagels, J.F. (2003) Does fungus consumption by the woodland jumping mouse vary with habitat type or the abundance of other small mammals? Canadian Journal of Zoology, 81: 753-756.
  10. Ovaska, K. and Herman, T.B. (1988) Life history characteristics and movements of the woodland jumping mouse, Napaeozapus insignis, in Nova Scotia. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 66: 1752-1762.

Image credit

Woodland jumping mouse grooming  
Woodland jumping mouse grooming

© Michael Patrikeev / Wild Nature Images

Wild Nature Images


Link to this photo

Arkive species - Woodland jumping mouse (Napaeozapus insignis) Embed this Arkive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to Arkive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about



MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite Arkive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

This species is featured in:

This species is featured in:

This species is found in Wisconsin's Northwoods and has been profiled with the support of a Wisconsin-based family who care deeply about the area. To learn more visit our eco-region pages.

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!


Back To Top