common golden mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli aureolus)
the golden mouse is a small rodent with soft fur that is a rich golden color above and a creamy white below. The pelage is slightly more brownish than the piedmont-coastal plain subspecies O. n. nuttalli. The total length is 127-180 mm, and the weight is 20-26 grams. The breeding season normally extends from mid-March through early October with several litters being produced per year (as many as 17 litters in 18 months.) They are fairly social and up to 8 mice have been found in same nest. This species constructs 2 types of arboreal structures, the nest and the feeding platform. The nest is a globular mass of leaves, shredded bark and grass and serves as the home site. The feeding platform is a structure similar to but not as bulky as the nest and serves as the place where the mice carry their seeds and consume them. The nest may be located from near the ground up to 10 meters, and most are found between 1.5-4.5 meters high. A study of aggressive behavior showed that this species is dominant over white-footed mice though this species exhibits no territoriality. The average life span is approximately 6.5 months.
This subspecies is found in the western half of the state except for the most northerly counties. This species occurs from densely forested lowlands and flood plains to pine uplands on sandy soils with high amounts of understory. They seem to be most common at forest edges where they are associated with cane brakes, moist thickets, and the shrubby edges of forests.
The most numerous seeds eaten are sumac, wild cherry, dogwood, and greenbrier.