A Marsh is a Marsh is a Marsh . . . But not Always to a Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse
Scientific names are often quite illuminating Reithrodontomys raviventris, for example, means the "grooved-toothed mouse with a red belly" but most of us call the animal the salt marsh harvest mouse. These mice, who live only in the salt marshes of the San Francisco Bay, are listed as an endangered species at both the federal and state levels because so much of their habitat has disappeared in the last 150 years. The salt marsh harvest mouse does have grooved upper front teeth, and many of them living in the southern end of their range have reddish bellies. Unusual for land mammals, the salt marsh harvest mouse can tolerate quite salty water and food. Mice of the northern subspecies can survive on sea water but prefer fresh, while those of the southern subspecies prefer water midway between fresh and salt.
This excerpt was from a story by Dr. Howard Shellhammer that was originally published in the 1988/1999 Winter issue of Tideline, the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex newsletter.
Federal Status: Listed endangered in 1970
Size: 2 1/2 " - 3 1/2"
Life Span: Up to 9 months
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Easily identified when in flight by the white rump patch, the Northern Harrier often soars low over marshes and farmlands. Its facial feathers reflect sound, helping this raptor to locate its prey.