Asiatic Long-tailed Climbing Mouse (Vandeleuria oleracea)
HB: 68; T: 105; HF: 17; E:13; W: 10g
Adapted to a life high in the canopy, the long-tailed climbing mouse (Vandeleuria nilagirica) has a long prehensile tail that acts as a balancing aid, and an opposable digit on the hands and feet that is used to grasp to branches whilst climbing. In common with other Vandeleuria climbing mice, the fur is soft and silky, and highly variable in colour, ranging from pale, dull brown to dark, reddish brown. The long-tailed climbing mouse is very similar in appearance to the Asiatic long-tailed climbing mouse (V. oleracea), and indeed was once considered a subspecies of its more widespread congener, but is distinguished by a substantially longer tail and greyer underparts
This species is widespread in South Asia, Southern China and
mainland Southeast Asia. In South Asia, this species has a wide distribution in
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, occurring in elevation from 200
to 1,500 m asl (Molur et al. 2005). In China, it is limited to Western and
Southern Yunnan (Smith and Xie 2008). In Southeast Asia, the species ranges from
Myanmar in the west into Thailand (north of the Isthmus of Kra),
south-western Cambodia, possibly Lao PDR, and Northern and Southern Vietnam
(Musser and Carleton, 2005).
Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Myanmar; Nepal; Sri Lanka; Thailand; Vietnam
It is widespread, but never very abundant.
Population Trend: Stable
A highly arboreal and active species, at night the long-tailed climbing mouse runs along branches and twigs, even climbing vertical shoots, to forage for a variety of fruits and buds Whilst feeding, this diminutive species may loosely wind its long tail around a branch as a balancing aid, or hang from it to reach food sources on fragile twigs. During the day the long-tailed climbing mouse seeks shelter in tree holes or nests high up in the canopy. Pairs nest between October and February and will descend to the ground to collect grass and leaves to construct a shallow, oval shaped nest in the fork of a tree As is typical of many small mice species, three or four young are born after a gestation period of 20 to 30 days, with a life expectancy of little more than one year.
Occupying an area no more than 500 square kilometres, the long-tailed climbing mouse is threatened by the loss and degradation of its habitat Changes in forestry management, with the increasing use of pesticides and native tree canopy species being replaced with exotics, has resulted in forest fragmentation and gaps in the canopy. Coffee plantations have also been felled and replaced with ginger cultivation. Consequently, many populations of the long-tailed climbing mouse have been left isolated, greatly increasing the species extinction risk.
It is present in several protected areas across its Southeast Asian range. In South Asia, it has been recorded from the Indian protected areas of Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, Gundla Brahmeshwaram Metta Wildlife Sanctuary, Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve, Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh; Banneraghatta National Park in Karnataka; Eravikulam National Park in Kerala and Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Maharshtra. In Sri Lanka it is known from Knuckles Forest Reserve in Central Province (Molur et al. 2005). It is listed in the Schedule V (considered as vermin) of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. There is a need for further research to elucidate the taxonomic status of this species complex.