Federally Listed Perdido Key Wildlife
Perdido Key Beach Mouse
The Perdido Key Beach Mouse is a small subspecies of old field mouse, found only on Perdido Key. Able to fit in the palm of your hand and light colored to blend in with the sand, these tiny rodents are nocturnal herbivores, feeding mainly on seeds and insects. They’re found in beach dunes and coastal scrub habitats, where they dig extensive burrows to rest, raise young and store food. They are a prey item for many animals including foxes, raccoons, owls and coyotes. While not a natural predator, domestic house cats commonly hunt them, especially where human developments align with beach mouse habitats.
The single largest threat facing the Perdido Key Beach Mouse is habitat fragmentation from human development. As homes and businesses are built and roads crisscross the island, the Perdido Key Beach Mouse is faced with smaller and smaller pieces of habitat. This causes problems when foraging for food and finding a mate. It also makes it harder for populations to recover from natural pressures like predation and storm events.
Four species of sea turtles nest on Perdido Key, May through October. The loggerhead is most common, accounting for 99 percent of all nests in Northwest Florida, but is also joined by green, leatherback and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. They too face threats from loss of habitat and an excess of artificial light—all four are listed as endangered or threatened. For more information on sea turtles in our area, click here.
Piping Plover and Other Shorebirds
Perdido Key and its surrounding area are home to many species of wintering shorebirds. The piping plover is a small, sand-colored shorebird, often seen feeding at the water’s edge. They roost in the dune vegetation and often retreat there if intruders are spotted.
But the piping plover isn’t the only shorebird the Perdido Key Habitat Conservation Plan protects. Red knots, snowy plovers, least terns, black skimmers and American oystercatchers all benefit under the plan.