A tiny mouse, Dendromus melanotis (Grey climbing mouse), found its way into a home in Beacon Bay (EL) this past week. They weigh less than 7 grams! One of the distuiguishing features of identifying these mammals is to look at the shape of the feet. The hindfeet have the fifth digit expressed as a stub and not a claw (see photo below) and the forefeet have a hollow tubercle as the fifth digit and not a claw.
They are a widespread species found in tall stands of grass (especially if mixed with bushes). They are mostly nocturnal and use the burrows of other rodents and holes dug by dung beetles. A speciality climber, using a long tail to twine around grass stems, it moves with agility up and down twigs and stems.
Litters of up to 4 are born in summer and they feed in insects and seeds.
The smallest mammal in South Africa is the Least Dwarf Shrew Suncus infinitesimus, which also occurs in the East London region. These animals weigh about 3 grams and are less than the length of a human thumb!
Reference: Smithers’ Mammals of southern Africa – A Field Guide (2000). Edited by Peter Apps