Beach mice are small, pale mice with large ears and dark eyes. Although pale, beach mice exhibit a hint of brownish or grayish coloration across their backs. Beach mice are difficult to tell apart from other Florida mice. However, beach mice are normally much whiter than other mice. The amount and hue of coloration varies among subspecies, with the Santa Rosa beach mouse being the palest and the Alabama beach mouse having the most pigmentation. Subspecies also may be distinguished by the extent to which coat coloration extends onto their faces and down their sides, and by the presence or absence of a tail stripe.
Beach mice have a monogamous mating system. A male mates with one female. Monogamy appears in less than 3% of all mammals. Mating among beach mice peaks in the winter but continues year-round. Beach mice live 9 months to a year in the wild.
The beach mouse survives in dunes and open scrub along the
beach and feeds primarily on seeds and insects. Habitat
loss is due mostly to coastal development and hurricanes.
There are four beach mice in the Florida Panhandle. Three are endangered; the Perdido Key beach mouse (PKBM), the Choctawhatchee beach mouse (CBM) and the St. Andrew beach mouse. The fourth, the Santa Rosa beach mouse, is not listed.
Other species that share the same habitat with beach mice include four state and federally listed sea turtles (Loggerhead, Green, Leatherback, and Kemps Ridley) and several species of shorebirds including the federally listed Piping Plover and State listed Snowy Plover. The sea turtles lay their nests along the many miles of flat beach along the Florida shoreline. Nesting season is May 1st through October 31 or until the last nest hatches. Most nests are marked off and monitored by permitted volunteers, this provides a good indicator for beach goers to know where these nests are and avoid them. Shorebirds nest along our Florida beaches mostly in lesser disturbed areas such as State Parks. Their nests can be found along the flat beach or in the dunes. Shorebirds nesting season runs from February 15 to September 15. These nests are monitored as well and roped off to prevent accidental crushing by beach goers. If you are lucky enough to see one of these cryptic nests, please do not stay in the vicinity long. A nest with eggs and no adult bird means the eggs are vulnerable to predation or heat stress.
Use common sense and awareness when at the beach and enjoy the areas where natural Florida beaches have been protected, but please stay out of the dunes as this habitat is needed for the survival of numerous endangered and imperiled species in Florida.