Northern hopping mouse (Notomys aquilo)

Northern hopping mice foraging on grass seeds
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Northern hopping mouse fact file

Northern hopping mouse description

GenusNotomys (1)

The northern hopping mouse is a nocturnal rodent, native to Australia (3). It is similar in size to a rat and has sandy brown fur, with a pale or white underbelly (2) (3) (4). Its other features are typical of hopping mice; it has large eyes and ears, and a small throat pouch which produces secretions that may be used to mark its territory (2) (4). The hind legs are very long and narrow enabling it to, as its name suggests, hop along the ground in a manner similar to a kangaroo (2); this hopping gait leaves distinctive footprints, indicating the presence of this species (3). The tail can grow to 17 centimetres in length and has a tufted end (2).

Head-body length: up to 11.2 cm (2)
Tail length: up to 17.3 cm (2)
25 – 50 g (3)

Northern hopping mouse biology

The main food source of the northern hopping mouse is seeds, which it forages from a range of grasses, herbs and shrubs (3), although it also eats other vegetable matter as well as insects (2). It is a social species that lives in an elaborate burrow system with many other individuals. The burrow contains a nest chamber, lined with leaves and other plant material, and the entrance to the burrow is obscured with a thin layer of sand. Being nocturnal, the mouse only emerges from the burrow at night (2) (3) (4).

Overall, the northern hopping mouse is a little-known species (3) and its reproductive habits have been observed only in a captive colony. Each litter consists of up to five young which are born after a gestation period of approximately seven weeks (2). The young are born virtually hairless with sealed eyes and ears; their eyes open 21 to 22 days after birth (2).


Northern hopping mouse range

This species is found in central and northeast Arnhem Land, a region of northern Australia, and on the island of Groote Eylandt, which lies 50 kilometres off the coast of Arnhem Land (2).


Northern hopping mouse habitat

The northern hopping mouse is found in a broad range of grassland, shrubland and open forest habitats, typically in coastal areas (5).


Northern hopping mouse status

Classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Northern hopping mouse threats

The threats facing this species are not clear at present. Possible threats include predation by feral cats, as well as habitat degradation caused by strip-mining for manganese (1). The invasion of foreign weed species and grazing by livestock may also threaten the northern hopping mouse by reducing the availability of its preferred plant food (3)


Northern hopping mouse conservation

The northern hopping mouse is not found within any conservation reserves (6); however, the Arnhem Land region is managed for conservation by the Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation (5). In 2004, a recovery plan for this species was created by Australia’s Department of the Environment and Heritage. The plan outlines measures to protect this species, including management to reduce the number of feral cats and protecting Groote Eylandt to limit the chance of any new threat being introduced (3). It also recommended that further research is undertaken on this species to shed more light on its ecological requirements, which will help inform future management plans (3)

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

To find out more about the conservation of the northern hopping mouse and other Australian rodents visit:



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:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


The state of being pregnant; the period from conception to birth.
Active at night.


  1. IUCN Red List (November 2009)
  2. Woinarski, J.C.Z. and Flannery, T.F. (2008) Northern hopping-mouse. In: Van Dyck, S. and Strahan, R. (Eds.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
  3. Woinarski, J.C.Z. (2004) National Multi-species Recovery Plan for the Carpentarian Antechinus Pseudantechinus mimulus, Butler’s Dunnart Sminthopsis butleri and Northern Hopping-mouse Notomys aquilo, 2004 - 2009. Northern Territory Department of Infrastructure Planning and Environment, Darwin.
  4. Breed, B. and Ford, F. (2007) Native Mice and Rats. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
  5. Woinarski, J.C.Z., Gambold, N., Wurst, D., Flannery, T.F., Smith, A.P., Chatto, R. and Fisher, A. (1999) Distribution and habitat of the northern hopping mouse Notomys aquilo. Wildlife Research, 26: 495-511.
  6. Woinarski, J.C.Z., Braithwaite, K.A., Menkhorst, S., Griffin, A. and Preece, N.(1992) Gradient analysis of the distribution of mammals in Stage III of Kakadu National Park, with a review of the distribution patterns of mammals across north-western Australia. Wildlife Research, 19: 233-262.

Image credit

Northern hopping mice foraging on grass seeds  
Northern hopping mice foraging on grass seeds

© Frank Woerle / Auscape International

Auscape International
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Tel: (+61) 2 4885 2245
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