Alabama Beach Mouse
(Peromyscus polionotus ammobates)
The Alabama beach mouse (ABM) is one of several subspecies of old field mice living only in coastal sand dune areas. The range of the Alabama beach mouse historically extended from Ono Island to Fort Morgan and included much of the Fort Morgan Peninsula on the Alabama Gulf coast.
These small light-colored mice burrow and excavate nests in dunes and are primarily active at night. Their diet consists of various plant seeds and insects. They prefer sand-covered slopes with patches of sea oats, beach grass, other grasses and herbs, as well as interior sand dune ridges.
Coastal development, including residential, commercial, and roadway construction, has fragmented and destroyed habitat used by this species. Hurricanes and tropical storms have also damaged or destroyed sand dunes and related habitats, and dune use by pedestrians has further degraded the habitat. Stalking by domestic and feral cats as well as other animals plus competition from other rodents have contributed to Alabama beach mouse declines and losses. Exotic vegetation also poses a threat to the ABM.
Further studies are needed to better understand the Alabama beach mouse and the sand dune ecosystem. Such information is vital for protecting, conserving and recovering this unique animal and the habitat crucial to its survival.
Ways to help Alabama beach mouse populations recover include:
- Install snow fences to aid in rebuilding dunes.
- Plant sea oats, bluestem, and other native coastal vegetation to restore dunes. Do not plant species of vegetation that are not naturally found in the coastal dunes.
- Maintain habitat character and connections during construction and land development.
- Limit impacts to dune areas and provide dune walkovers for beach access.
- Control outdoor and feral cats in beach mouse habitat to reduce their hunting of beach mice.
- Properly dispose of garbage in rodent-proof cans with tight fitting lids to prevent house mice or other rodent populations from becoming established and competing with beach mice.
- Avoid using poisons, snap traps, glue boards and similar techniques outdoors in beach mouse habitat.