Gulf of Mexico
An Alabama beach mouse peeks out from behind vegetation. Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Alabama beach mouse helped build the dunes that protect our coast

Alabamians love their beaches, but the relationship with tiny mammals that helped make the state’s coastal ecosystems has been somewhat more complicated.

Developers initially complained about having to obtain permits from the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect a rodent, but over time the beach mouse’s role in creating one of Alabama’s favorite ecosystems has earned this tiny mammal a bit more respect.

Where do they live?

Both the Alabama beach mouse and the Perdido Key beach mouse species inhabit the oat-covered sand dunes of Alabama’s barrier islands, building burrow complexes beneath the sand. These mice are distant relatives of the common mice that enter human dwellings, instead preferring to stay in their burrows during the day and forage for food, mostly vegetation and insects.

The Alabama beach mouse was historically found throughout the dunes of Fort Morgan to Alabama Point, though its range is greatly reduced. The Perdido Key beach mouse is genetically distinct from the Alabama beach mouse but shares many of the same traits. It inhabits Perdido Key, a barrier island shared by Alabama and Florida.

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