Mus spicilegus 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Muridae

Scientific Name: Mus spicilegus
Species Authority: Petényi, 1882
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Mound-building Mouse, Steppe Mouse
French Souris Des Steppes
Spanish Ratón De Las Estepas

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Coroiu, I., Kryštufek, B. & Vohralík, V.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Temple, H. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
M. spicilegus is widespread in its range and can be common in suitable habitat. It is declining in some parts of its range owing to habitat loss, but not at a rate that meets the threatened criteria. Likewise in parts of the Mediterranean there are local declines; it may be in direct competition with M. musculus. Currently assessed as Least Concern, but population declines should be monitored.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Mus spicilegus is endemic to Europe, occurring from Lake Neusiedl on the Austro-Hungarian border through Slovakia, Hungary, Moldova, and Ukraine, extending eastwards to as far as Rostov in the extreme south-west of Russia. In the Mediterranean region, it occurs in Serbia and Bulgaria, with an isolated subpopulation occurring in Montenegro, Greece and Albania. This subpopulation has a fragmented range within a very narrow strip of coastal habitat, and there are only three known localities (B. Kryštufek pers. comm. 2006). It typically occurs from sea level to 200 m (Macholán 1999).
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Austria; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Greece; Hungary; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Montenegro; Romania; Russian Federation; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Ukraine
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It remains common in suitable habitats, but is suspected to be undergoing population decline in some areas. Densities of 1-20 mounds per hectare are typical, but densities of up to 60-100 mounds per hectare may be reached in particularly favourable habitat. On average, each mound is inhabited by five to six individuals (Macholán 1999). In Slovakia the range appears to be expanding.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It occurs in a variety of open habitats including natural steppe grasslands, pastures and cereal fields, orchards, open woodland, woodland edges and clearings. It avoids forests and human settlements. It feeds on grain and seeds, which it hoards in the winter in a soil-covered mound built above its nest chamber; a single mound may be up to 400 cm in diameter (although 100-200 cm is more typical) and contain up to 10 kg of grain (Macdonald and Barrett 1993, Sokolov et al. 1998). Groups of 4-14 mice cooperate to build these mounds (Sokolov et al. 1998).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is feared that loss of steppe grassland and agricultural intensification may cause population declines (Macholán 1999). However, in Romania at least, this species is considered an agricultural pest (Popescu and Murariu 2001).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It occurs in some protected area within its range. The population may be declining and this should be monitored.

Classifications [top]

4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.3. Agro-industry grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

IUCN. 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Macdonald, D.W. and Barrett, P. 1993. Mammals of Britain and Europe. Collins, London, UK.

Macholán, M. 1999. Mus spicilegus. In: A. J. Mitchell-Jones, G. Amori, W. Bogdanowicz, B. Kryštufek, P. J. H. Reijnders, F. Spitzenberger, M. Stubbe, J. B. M. Thissen, V. Vohralík and J. Zima (eds), The Atlas of European Mammals, pp. 288-289. Academic Press, London, UK.

Popescu, A. and Murariu, D. 2001. Fauna Romaniei. Academia Romana.

Sokolov, V. E., Kotenkova, E. V. and Michailenko, A. G. 1998. Mus spicilegus. Mammalian Species 592: 1-6.

Citation: Coroiu, I., Kryštufek, B. & Vohralík, V. 2008. Mus spicilegus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T13984A4378403. . Downloaded on 05 December 2016.
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