Observations on the Life Histories and Behaviour of some Small Rodents from Tanzania
Although almost all Mrica's mice have probably been collected, typed, measured and their embryos noted, very little is known of their habits. This study is therefore an attempt to fill the gap in our knowledge and was carried out between September 1961 and January 1966 while concurrently studying plague-bearing fleas in Tanzania. Part of the results, that on Beamys and Tatera, was published in 1970 (Hubbard), and since the present paper was written, a study on the South Mrican Mystromys albicaudatus has also appeared (Hallett and Meester 1971).
Total observations covered about 4 sao animals which were captured in small 5 x 5 in.
box traps built about a common snap mouse trap. The traps were baited with quick-cooking rolled oats as common rolled oats will not attract wild mice. Each mouse was lightly anaesthetised with chloroform, as ether is not suitable for flea collection, before removing the ectoparasites and taking body measurements. The animals were then either freed to collect more ectoparasites or turned into study skins. Pregnant females were retained in captivity and allowed to reproduce.
Most of the 500 skins involved in this study have been deposited in the Transvaal
Museum, Pretoria. About 100 were deposited in the Zoological Museum, University of
Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington and the writer's live colonies of Tatera and Beamys are
being maintained (1967) at the University of Utah, Laboratory Mouse Research Center,
In the following pages all pregnant mice detained were provided with two or three weaverbird nests in which to have their families. The young were handled daily and with the exception of coucha rats and four striped grass mice the mothers seemed to accept this routine
and offer little objection.
(All measurements, unless otherwise stated, are given in millimeters, and follow the
customary sequence of: total length (To), length of head and body (H.D.), tai1length (T.),
length of hindfoot (P.), length of ear (E.).)